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The Rise of Natural Hair Events - Cocktails, Conversation and Curls

By: Shannon Shelton Miller

From ‘fro expos to “hair affairs,” natural hair gatherings are sprouting up as quickly as the new coils on many transitioner’s heads.

No longer confined to major North American cities like New York, Toronto or Los Angeles, one can often find natural hair meet-ups in the continent’s mid-sized cities and smaller towns. All that’s needed is a group of women looking to meet in person to talk about hair and a gathering place, and a get-together is born.

What’s different today from many of those earlier, more organic meetings is the magnitude and planning involved in such functions. While plenty of women still go to a local restaurant or other intimate place to talk hair over lunch or coffee, events in the last year or so have truly become events, complete with slick advertising, company sponsorship and a presence at larger venues built to hold a crowd.

Magazines such as Essence even maintain a calendar of such events – some are free, and others charge a small fee for entry. Events can feature booths with products for sale and appearances and demonstrations from hairstylists and product makers, or function more as social gatherings, where women munch on hors d’ oeuvres and sip cocktails while admiring other kinky/curly heads of hair. Some even serve as fundraisers, with ticket revenue going to local charities.

“There has been a steady increase since last year of natural hair meets across North America, especially in some of the southern states,” said Ashley Guy, Director of Sales at Curly Hair Solutions. “Women are beginning to realize the damage that chemical treatments and relaxers are causing their hair and decide to either “transition” their hair (stop the chemical treatments and grow it out) or shave it all off and start from scratch.”

When women make that transition, however, they can often find a lack of information and support for managing their natural hair. Online communities and instructional YouTube videos are helpful, but they don’t provide opportunities for women to see directly others with the same type of hair and ask for advice.

That’s where the natural hair events come in.

Guy said Curly Hair Solutions gets approached by natural hair event planners asking for product samples and brochures for gift bags. Companies that offer curl-friendly products, many of which have natural ingredients that promote hair health, are popular choices for sponsorship.

Both the hair care companies and the attendees find these collaborations beneficial.

“We not only give products and brochures, but also the education needed to manage their natural hair, and in return we become a part of their marketing campaign,” Guy said. “We plug into their social media platforms, like Facebook and Twitter, and they plug into ours and we do cross promotion.”

Guy says she requests a copy of the event flyer to post it on the Curly Hair Solutions Facebook and Pinterest pages. The event organizers then mention the company’s name at the function, and place the brand name and log in the event program.

“We get a good amount of marketing out of these events, which is what we need, but more importantly we have become part of the Natural Hair culture which is a growing movement of woman who are dedicated to having natural hair.” she said.

Curly Hair Solutions will continue to support Natural Hair events and work with many organizations to bring what started as an underground movement to the mainstream.