WErise: Andolepe Diya-Sand: Restoring Love for Natural Hair


Back in the day, in the mid-to-late 90’s, her love for hairstyling was becoming quite popular that often she’d get herself in trouble at the all-girls catholic high school where she was attending, breaking the school rules sporting the wrong hairstyle.

Born and raised in Port Moresby, Andolepe hails from the small village of Oiyarip in the Southern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea (PNG). Her late father was a career diplomat and whilst growing up, Andolepe and her family travelled a lot due to her father’s job. At one stage this journey brought them to live in the Philippines where Andolepe did part of her primary schooling at the International School of Manilla.

Commonly known to her peers and teachers at school as Ando; Andolepe attended high school at Marianville in Port Moresby, and after completing her grade 10 in 1997 she was among other top students from Port Moresby and the surrounding Central Province to further their grades 11 and 12 education at the then newly established Port Moresby National High School in 1998 and 1999.

From a young age her parents have always emphasized the importance of attaining a degree, so when Andolepe completed grade 12, she was determined to accomplish this goal and make her parents proud. Andolepe enrolled into the University of Papua New Guinea – School of Social Sciences – where she majored in Public Policy Management and International Relations. After four years of fully committing to her studies, Andolepe graduated successfully with a bachelor’s degree; just how she had envisioned.

My late dad was an inspiration to me. He believed in the importance of girls getting educated and building successful careers and families. My dad wanted his girls to have it all…I guess that’s the result of having a blended family with nine daughters and wanting only the best for his girls.

Recalling her Christmas holidays growing up; Andolepe enjoyed travelling with her family along the Highlands highway from Mendi to Madang to visit relatives in Madang. Andolepe’s mother is part Bundi in the Madang Province. They would go swimming at the Kalibobo beach and have lunch at the Kranget fish market. Andolepe loved the experience of different food and cultures every time she travelled. All these experiences were the highlights of Andolepe’s life growing up in her home country of Papua New Guinea.

Now living in Brisbane Australia, Andolepe is the woman behind the natural haircare brand: ‘Amyblu Island Essentials’ which is creating a natural haircare movement and growing a trend in the community with people of curly, natural and afro-hair, and now spreading rapidly beyond Australia to countries including New Zealand, United States of America, Switzerland, Sweden, China, of course Papua New Guinea.

The birth of the brand: Amyblu Island Essentials

One afternoon, after Andolepe’s daughter returned home from school, she asked her mum if she could chemically relax her hair. This raised concern for Andolepe and prompted her to research tips and ideas into natural hair care. As a result of what initially seemed like an ordinary google search, turned into an inspiring light-bulb moment when ‘Amyblu Island Essentials’ was born; essentially to help her daughter embrace her beautiful, natural Melanesian hair.

Andolepe with some of her Amyblu Island Essentials products

She was the only one in her grade with a Melanesian afro and her perception of beauty around her was associated with long straight hair. This view from my daughter started our natural hair love and journey in 2018. Initially we formulated oils together. In fact, our Aloe Vera and Moringa Multitasking Hair and Body Oil is her formulation.  I encouraged her to formulate this oil so she could enjoy applying the product she made for her own hair. 

With the support of family members, this mother and daughter team launched their small-scale natural hair and skincare start-up in 2018 when they introduced their first products through their social media pages on Facebook and Instagram. What started with only the multitasking hair and body oil have now expanded into a range of natural leave-in conditioners, moisturizing butters, hair growth oils and their very own paraben-free and sulphate-free shampoo and conditioner.

All Amyblu Island Essentials Haircare products are formulated with the best quality of organic moringa, vanilla beans and noni oil; grown and shipped from PNG to later being infused with A-grade organic butters; ethically sourced from West Africa and South America, including the acclaimed Ayurvedic medicinal herbs to accentuate the Melanesian crowns and curls without the nasty chemicals, and to help promote the growth of healthy hair and skin. Aloe vera is also another medicinal plant ingredient that is used to make these natural hair and skincare products.

I absolutely love the powerful healing properties of aloe vera, moringa and virgin coconut oil when they come together. We refer to them as our Island essential and are present in all our products. My love for Aloe vera started when I was in primary school, I experienced the healing properties when my aunt would rub aloe vera on my fresh cuts that healed within 24 hours.

Currently studying a Diploma in Hair and Skincare Formula, Andolepe is applying her freshly obtained knowledge to formulate new products and grow her Natural Hair and Skincare line. Her awareness and appreciation of locally handmade products have since grown, not to mention the realisation she now has to buy these products for what they’re earnestly worth.

During the initial height of the covid-19 pandemic, Andolepe was laid off from her job as a Researcher for Mine impacted Projects in PNG at the University of Queensland – Sustainable Minerals Institute, Centre for Social Responsibility. This has enabled Andolepe to focus more on her passion for researching and formulating natural hair and skincare products, as well as allowing her time to spend on growing her home-based business in Brisbane Australia.

In her downtime, apart from researching botanical plant properties, Andolepe loves creating social media marketing content as well as networking with other PNG Women in Business within Australia and Papua New Guinea. She would love to see more networking events and showcases of locally made products and services from PNG Women in Brisbane. 

I like to network and promote what other entrepreneurs particularly in the cottage industry are doing not only in Australia but in Papua New Guinea as well. I would like to see more Papua New Guinean pure organic oils and seed-based butters with health benefits available in Australia and worldwide because I believe our soils are blessed with a uniquely diverse array of flora and fauna to create high grade potent blends.

It’s challenging but when we network, we are creating awareness of our product and services within our PNG communities living in Australia and promoting our reach. I like to think I am an advocate for Melanesian Crowns, and I love receiving messages from our Blubirds who decided to begin their natural hair journey because of our products.

Andolepe’s message to young Girls and Women:

Set goals, get a qualification or more, start a side hustle, save money, travel the world (once covid is under control) and, always remember that God’s plans for you are great; always have faith and pray. Life is what you make of it with God as your centre, nothing is impossible.

Andolepe Diya-Sand

To find out more about these beautiful Amyblu Island Essentials Haircare products, you can go to their Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn or make a purchase through their website at: www.amybluislandessentials.com.au

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