It’s that time of year again! May Bank Holiday weekend; the weekend of two huge Afro hair events – Curlvolution and Afro Hair and Beauty Live. Last year’s Curlvolution was the first natural hair event I had ever gone to, having only set the blog up a few weeks before! Now one year on, and with my blogger pals around me, it was time to come together again to celebrate the beauty of Afro hair. However, none of us were prepared for how eye-opening and empowering the event would be. Read on to see what we got up to at Curlvolution 2015!
On Saturday 23rd May, I made my way to the Hilton in Canary Wharf to the 4th Annual Curlvolution Natural Hair and Beauty Show. There was no time to take pics, for as soon as I arrived I was whisked into a conference room to watch the lovely Laila aka @NeffyFroFro and Pelumi (creator of http://www.cfyh.co.uk/) give a conference on the ‘Business of Blogging.’ The talk was really energetic and fun, but also incredibly informative, as the pair explained their own experiences and tips on how to become successful in blogging/vlogging.
After the first talk, I then went on to see natural hair guru Felicia Leatherwood give her talk on how to care for natural hair.
Finally, we had a moment to take a quick snap before the ’50 Shades of Brown’ panel discussion.
The panel consisted of Fashion Fair Brand Manager Connie Jackson, beauty blogger Kluermoi, Apprentice 2014 finalist and Entrepreneur Bianca Miller, Felicia Leatherwood and Natural hair blogger Jenell Stewart. At first I found it interesting that Bianca Miller was the only British panelist whereas everyone else was from the states. However it soon became clear that women of colour face many of the same struggles on both sides of the Atlantic.
The panelists discussed the lack of products catering to women of colour in commercial retail stores. In the Apprentice, Bianca’s business plan was to create a hosiery line to match all skin colours rather than just lighter skin tones. Even though the show was watched by 10 million people every week, Bianca has found it difficult to convince any large UK retailers to sell her product, as they refuse to see that there is a demand in the market. She went on to say that it is ridiculous that living in a multicultural borough in London, there are only four darker shades of foundation to choose from in her local Superdrug. This echoed Thandie Newton’s thoughts at the Pretty White Female event in Selfridges (which I attended last year), where she stated ‘‘There’s this ghettoisation of make-up right now. The right shade is there for everybody but you can only get it at specialised shops.”
But how can we make a change?
As Jenell Stewart put it, “the power is in our pocket.” In the US, a large retailing company called Target has responded to the high demand for afro hair products by increasing the range of products on offer. Why? Because so many black women went in stores and bought products, such as Shea Moisture, that they felt the need to supply for the demand.
Fashion Fair Brand Manager Connie Jackson supported this by stating, “if you don’t like how your community looks, its because of how you spend your money.” The answer is simple. If you dislike a product because it doesn’t suit your skin tone, or help your hair, or even support your moral values DO NOT BUY IT. Use social media to make it clear to the companies and others around you that you are not satisfied with how under-represented you are and don’t stop until you see a change. Likewise, we women of colour are not crabs in a barrel: we should support each other, not try and make other’s journey to success more difficult. Support black women who create their own products so that black people can reclaim the Afro hair industry which is currently owned by other people who do not even have Afro hair!
It’s safe to say that we were all feeling empowered after such an inspiring discussion. Myself and my fellow bloggers took to social media to spread the word, and after sending a tweet to a handful of retailers – confronting them about not representing people of colour sufficiently – I received a tweet back from Boots saying they would pass the message on to their relevant team. Small steps, but if we all work together we can make a change!
After leaving the conference hall, I managed to get a few snaps with some of the lovely ladies I saw there. Enjoy!
Myself and Zainab (@Naturally_Zeze)
Myself and Rene (@OwnByFemme)
Melissa, creator of Big Hair, myself and former London Curls blogger, my friend Gloria.
The beautiful Tia (@TiaMarieTaylor) representing the fantastic ACLT
Myself and Winter (@ACurlysthoughts)
It is so important that we all become proactive. Not only by showing large companies that we are not OK with how under-represented we are, but by also supporting others around us. Overall, it was an amazing day at Curlvolution, and I look forward to returning next year!
With love from London,