Embracing curls

Claire Fermo, creator of Aussie Curls. Picture: Angela Brushe Photography

By Melissa Grant

Curly hair on kids is adorable but can be a nightmare to manage.

Brushing is generally a no-no and parents need to be mindful of how they use products on their child’s hair.

Most importantly though, parents need to “embrace the curls”, according to Tewantin mum and Aussie Curls founder Claire Fermo.

Claire straightened her for years before she embraced her curls, a move which ultimately led to her business venture.

It was only after becoming a mum that Claire realised her hair was beautiful and she was wasting time straightening it.

“I straightened my hair for 15 years,” Claire said.

“It’s because I listened to what a guy said to me in a bar once – that I would be better looking if I had straight hair!”

Claire was married for four years before her husband, Andy, even saw her curls.

He saw them for the first time when the couple and their son, Phoenix, were on a cruise as Claire couldn’t straighten her hair every day.

Andy fell in love with the curls – and so did Claire. She was no longer worried about getting her hair wet and constantly checking to see if any hair was out of place.

After the cruise, Claire decided to learn everything she could about curls.

“I found the curly girl method. I started to learn about that,” she explained.

“Then I realised there were some great things I could take from that, but there were too many rules. Some women stopped embracing their curls because it was too hard. I thought there has to be a way that’s in between.”

Claire had her light-bulb moment and Aussie Curls was born.

Five years on, Claire has a shampoo and conditioner range and is launching her styling range, which includes moisturising and beach sprays.

Claire is so passionate about her products, which are made from organic and natural Australian ingredients, that her children, Phoenix, now 8, and Havana, 5, use them – even though they don’t have curls.

“My husband is Filipino so they’ve got his dead-straight hair, but they still have to use Aussie Curls – it’s the only hair product allowed in the house,” the mum of Indigenous and Moroccan heritage said.

Although her kids have straight hair, Claire knows all about the battles parents of curly-haired children face and she even does home visits to give advice.

The number one rule, she says, is not to brush dry curls.

“Don’t brush your child’s hair when it’s dry as it causes the curl to lose its memory and it will create more knots,” Claire explained.

She advises to finger comb hair when wet, or to carefully chose a brush to detangle wet curls in the shower/bath.

Claire also advises not to wash curls every day and to invest in a moisture spray or make your own by putting some conditioner in a spray bottle.

Aussie Curls products are sold online and are starting to appear in hairdressing salons, and Claire’s particularly keen to get them into hairdressers on the Coast.

Claire, who has a background in finance, says the business is a full-time job but one she has fitted around her two kids and helping her husband run Invisible Injuries, a not-for-profit dedicated to support veterans experiencing effects of PTSD.

“I wanted to create my own business because I’m passionate about it, but so I could be around the kids,” she said.

Aussie Curls is growing, with Claire recently employing her first staff member.

“She’s a stay-at-home mum and does my packing and sends all my orders.

“My goal is to employ mums who can work from home and to work around their schedule.”

You can find Claire online at https://www.aussiecurls.com.au/ or follow her on Instagram at aussie_curls

Claire’s top tips for managing curls:
Don’t brush when dry: If you brush dry hair it causes the curl to lose its memory and it will create more knots. Instead, finger comb the hair when it is wet. The only brush I use in the shower is called the Denman brush.
Washing: Don’t wash curls every day as it’s good to get natural oil through them. Washing frequency depends on thickness. A lot of kids have fine curls, which are best washed every 3-4 days. My hair is thicker – I wash my hair every 6-7 days and do a refresh between that with a water spray bottle and moisture product. Washing curls too often can also dry out your child’s scalp.
Use a moisturising spray: In between washes, use a moisturising spray. You can even just put a bit of conditioner in a spray bottle. Then finger comb the hair. Moisture spray works fine with both thick and thin curls, you just need to adjust the moisture level. It’s not an exact science – just fill with water, put the conditioner in and shake it up.
Apply products when wet: Curls love moisture. I apply all my hair products while I’m in the shower.