Meet the Friends Behind Nuele Hair, Philly’s 100 Percent Natural Beauty Line

Anne Cheatham and Christine Martey-Ochola brought their scientific backgrounds to non-toxic, sustainable products that benefit woman farmers.

Anne Cheatham, left, and Christine Martey-Ochola with their heat-protecting Nuele Hair serum and hydrating hair mask, available at / Photograph by Jauhien Sasnou

Chester County-based Nuele Hair‘s slate of products has it all: brains, beauty, and the uninhibited power of the pure ingredients you’re paying for. Launched in 2020, Nuele has won both a Refinery29 Innovator Award and a Harper’s Bazaar Hair Award for its treatments that will leave even the most brittle locks soft yet durable. Philly Mag caught up with Nuele founders Anne Cheatham and Christine Martey-Ochola to discuss their path to creating their 100 percent natural beauty products.

What we make

Martey-Ochola: “Ultra-clean hair products. They’re paraben-free, sulfate-free, alcohol-free and fragrance-free.”

How we met

Cheatham: “We met at West Chester SDA Church and became friends. We felt an affiliation since we’re both from Africa; Christine is from Kenya, and I’m from Zambia. Later, we decided to become business partners when Christine made a product specifically for needs that I was looking for. I was looking to get out of using a lot of chemical relaxers and keratin treatments, which were very expensive and filled with chemicals. Christine came up with the Nuele serum, and we absolutely loved it. Then there came the idea that hey, if we love it, surely other people will also love it. Being a Black-woman-owned business, we noticed a big gap in 100 percent organic natural hair-care products designed for all hair types.”

Before Nuele

Cheatham: “I worked on research into plant-based diseases before becoming  a nurse anesthetist.”

Martey-Ochola: “My background was in food science and technology. That got me more interested in the field of biochemistry, which is what I ended up studying, as well as pharmaceutical chemistry. I got my doctorate in that and did a lot of research in cancer of all sorts, specifically driven by toxic products. The research and discovery, as well as the health aspects of our careers, play a big role in the values of our company.” 

What drives us

Martey-Ochola: “Sustainability as well as food, health, and economic security for the communities that we engage with. We value working with local female farmers in Ghana and Morocco. Having grown up in communities where we saw such amazing robustness with natural products, that drives us: to be able to say that because of the work we’re doing, there are communities that are benefiting.” 

Published as “The Brains Beneath the Hair” in the February 2022 issue of Philadelphia magazine.