The Leimert Park health store expanded their location to deliver more healthy products designed for their Black customer base.
By Tracy Edwards
Husband and wife Umaar Norwood and Sharon Williams-Norwood founded Nappily Naturals in Leimert Park Village in 2018 because there were not enough culturally inspired natural beauty and health stores in their community.
“Back in the day there was Good Life (Crenshaw Boulevard and Exposition Boulevard), but it was on a different level. It was awesome,” Norwood said. “Simply Wholesome is another one. But if we can only name one or two, then that’s not enough. Not while on every street in a Black community you have a liquor store and a fast-food restaurant.”
Nappily Naturals has formed a strong customer base, and its positive impact has been recognized by local leaders.
"Nappily Naturals' products and services are unsurpassed and bring tremendous value to the health and wellness of our community,” said Robert Sausedo, CEO of Community Build.
Their customer base allowed them to expand the store on Degnan Boulevard to the adjacent unit, where they have opened Nnaked, which is a zero waste refill store. Customers bring in their own bags and glass bottles that they can reuse, opposed to the store providing the containers. Stores like these lessen the amount of containers that need to be created, and also lessen the amount of waste that a person creates.
The Nappily Naturals side features skin care products that are specifically made for Black people, while the Nnaked side features whole foods.
“We follow the pattern of African holistic health,” Norwood said.
Black communities are hit the hardest by preventable diseases such as heart disease, various types of cancer, and diabetes. And the obesity rate is higher among Black people than other races. Nappily Naturals has products that help people lead a healthier lifestyle. But it’s important that people make the decision to take an active role in managing their health.
“Health and wellness is a participation sport,” Norwood said. “You can’t sit on the sideline and wait for the doctor to tell you to do something for self. If a person is taking a more active role, they can assist their physician, and they can assist their body in performing at its optimum level.”
Heavily processed foods can cause health problems, so Nappily Naturals’ whole food side has rice, grains, beans, spelt flour, coconut flour, and other products that are minimally processed.
“It’s one generation away from its original source,” Norwood said. “Say for instance you get French fries. That can be three or four generations. It’s a potato, you have to cut it, and then you have to fry it. It has to go through that process. A more holistic lifestyle is trying to keep it on the first generation. Like a salad. Out of the ground, cut, into your mouth.
“Everything should be simple, raw ingredients. Lemon peel, orange peel, orange powder, lemon powder. We’re getting you back to nature. Especially if you’re African. You have a high concentration of melanin. Generally what works well for us is when all things are natural.”
Mainstream grocery stores can be more convenient because of the large volume of products that they have, but shopping at a health-food store like Nappily Naturals is healthier because it will put itst customer’s health over its profits.
“Any time you deal with natural foods, you have to understand, it has a somewhat low shelf life because there are no preservatives,” Norwood said. “It requires special handling, airtight jars, low light, stuff like that. In the big box stores, it’s about profit. So how long can they keep the product on the shelf? So the industry isn’t geared toward self health.”
“They’re going to make sure that the product has (chemicals such as) stabilizers, parabens, and all kinds of bonding agents to keep the product fresh and smelling fruity and as minty as possible. The only way to do that is to add chemicals. So everything you get from a big box store, it has to have a form of preservative. Because before it gets to the store, it’s in the warehouse for six or seven months.”
Nappily Naturals has teas that boost the immune system and assist with blood purification, relaxation, and sleep.
“We assemble and source either wild crafted or organic teas,” Norwood said. “We deal a lot with the roots, because you get more nutrients from that and the green leaves. Most teas that you buy from the store is not actual tea. It’s dust. A tea should be a leaf. You have flower, roots, berries, and teas. Eighty percent of what people consume is either a flower or a leaf, not a tea.”
The Norwoods make custom products at the store to fit people’s needs.
“Because we have the herbs, we’re always making tonics or extracts,” Norwood said. “We’ll get elderberry and let it steep in the refrigerator for like a week. Then we can add ginger root and make a tonic for optimum health. We can also do that with hair products. We have food-grade essential oils; carrier oils; floral waters like lavender water, rose water, and chamomile water.”
Nappily Naturals has products for facial and body care.
“Your skin is the largest organ on your body, so you definitely want to watch what you put on your skin,” Norwood said.
Nappily Naturals is in Leimert Park Village, and like the rest of the stores along Degnan Boulevard, it has an Afrocentric environment.
“Our primary goal is to serve primarily Black people,” Norwood said. “Period point blank. Our primary target market is African Americans and people from the African Diaspora. Anyone else is always welcomed. But our primary focus, the sourcing for all of our ingredients, to our herbs, everything is geared for our consumers.”
Nappily Naturals is located at 4342 Degnan Boulevard. Contact them at (323) 903-6655. Visit their website at www.nappilynaturals.com and follow them on Facebook and Instagram.