My Natural Meet Up at Africa Utopia

When wearing our natural hair was in its infancy, The Natural hair meet up, was simply that.  A group of like minded women, meeting up to stop, chat and talk hair. Believe you me, we can fill up a whole afternoon with hair talk. These women would often make friends and great number of hair care tips on products, salons, routines, they were informative, fun and gave everyone a sense of belonging

Slowly the humble meet up has evolved, now we have major events, where women can go to, shop, listen to seminars, watch fashion shows, the community is huge.

So when I was asked to host a Natural Meet up at the Africa Utopia festival in Southbank I was delighted. A meet up it was going to be.

With the help of Elle and Neecie from Natural Hair Daily and only an hour to fill, we decided that the best format was to have the attendees sit in a circle (no matter the size). We went around the room and everyone introduced themselves, and then it was time for hair talk. Someone would ask a question and the whole group would answer, it was lovely.

Some of the questions were…“Where can I go to the hairdresser?” “I am scared to put colour on my hair, what advice would you give?” “I don’t know how to style” “I work in a corporate environment and I just don’t have time” “what products should I use?”

The answers that people gave were very informative and people had great ideas. Through our own hair journeys we have become experts. Afterwards we even had time for a little networking

Here are some pics by  Natural Hair Daily and Abiodun Photography

DSC_1482

Me with Neecie Gold (on the Mic) and Elle Jourdainne of Natural Hair Daily. That bow is from the Swap Meet event I had last year

DSC_1486

Yes men attended, and this guy always had long natural hair but he recently big chopped

DSC_1502

This stunning creature in the middle described her hair at being in the awkward stange…WOW if that is awkward then cant we all be?

DSC_1510

Seriously? Awkward? I think more like HOT TO TROT – don’t be afraid of the big chop peeps!

DSC_1582

Elle giving advice, this lady wanted help with her daughters hair – I respect that!

DSC_1584

That head wrap was killing it!

 

Africa Utopia was a great day for me, the shopping was fantastic and as I previously mentioned the seminar I attended was really good. Perhaps you might check it out next year, and if I host another meet up stop by 🙂

Check out Natural Hair Daily, my wonderful co-hosts at Instagram: NaturalHairDaily | Twitter: @DailyNatural | Facebook: NaturalHairDaily | Youtube: NaturalHairDaily

Signature

My Day at the Women of the World Festival!

On Saturday the 8th March the sun was shining and it was a beautiful day. It was also International Woman’s Day where thousands of events are held throughout the world to inspire women and celebrate their achievements.

This was the day I headed down the Southbank where the Woman of the World Festival was taking place. My role was to take part in the panel talk entitled ‘Weaves vs Natural? The Politics of Afro Hair’. Afterwards I was to co-host a Natural Hair Meet up alongside Crystal Afro.

Styling my hair was a challenge that morning, I decided to do an updo, it didn’t quite come out as I had planned but this was it in the end.

Hair on the Day

Hair on the Day

The Audience Arriving for the meet up

The Audience Arriving for the meet up

Panel

The Panel: from the Left Crystal Afro, Natalie Clue , Hannah Pool, me and Sandie Okoro

The speakers on the panel were Crystal Afro of  The United Kinkdom, Natalie Clue of Beauty Pulse London, Hannah Pool, Journalist and Author, Sandie Okoro Chief Legal Counsel at HSBC and myself. I was honoured to be in such company. I will admit I wasn’t fond of the title, when I heard it was Weaves Vs Natural I was at home wondering how the debate would turn out.  My true feelings on that are it’s not about one verses the other, it’s about personal choice. However when I got there, the discussion wasn’t really focussed on that although it did come up. We talked about our hair experiences, good and bad, Hannah admitted to the geri curl haha. Natalie had very different views to hair than me, she sees her hair as just an accessory, like shoes or a bag and she can change it at anytime, weave, braids, relaxer. Never natural though, when she went to a natural event we wore a curly wig.  Sandie, was great, she said that we shouldn’t over think hair, if we go to an interview and we have all our qualifications, if our hair is neat why on earth would that be a factor in us getting a job or not, and being such a senior natural black woman in the corporate world, she should know.  Crystal also pointed out that we can’t avoid history or politics when it comes to our hair, an important point I think as we all know why straightening our hair was invented. I was asked if I thought hair could ever be healthy in relaxer. I said, very politically that for me it wasn’t. Like I said, interesting conversation, it should be online soon.

Angel Speaking

Me Speaking…Who knows what I was saying haha

When the panel had finished we headed on to the next location to set up for the meet up. This was my favourite part of the day.

Booklet Meet Up

We laid it out so all attendees would sit around in a big circle. It kicked off with Shaherah Jordan owner of Balanced Busy Bodies and qualified nutritionist  sharing her story with us, she has recently combed out her waist length locs (interview coming soon). It was interesting to hear how and why. Then Belinda Raji founder and owner of BeUnique Hair Care (she also has a Youtube Channel) shared hair story. Then since we were in a circle, it gave people the opportunity to share and the whole thing just naturally turned into a wonderful discussion where we shared styling tips, hair care advice, frustrations, myths and more. Everyone took part and everyone felt comfortable in adding something.  We even had a little giveaway at the end.

Sharing

People were happy to share their experiences

The Prize Giving

The Prize Giving

You probably had to be there, but it was so uplifting. If I were to sit here and try and explain to you why I think the meet up was so great I would say that it’s because women are so busy nowadays perhaps we no longer get the time to sit down and just talk. Our friend networks are smaller and perhaps we don’t always feel comfortable sharing problems that we are having. Having an opportunity to do this is important and you can learn so much. Here is what I learnt from the meet up.

* We are all beautiful!

* Natural Hair styling may indeed take a long time when you are new to it, but as you get the hang of it things will be easier

* However, there is nothing wrong with taking that time we owe it to ourselves, call it self love, pampering etc, we deserve to treat ourselves nicely.

*Find your quick ‘go to’styles so that when you need to do your hair for work in the morning it’s a five minute process.

*Relearning the hair care skills we have lost is important now more than ever so that our daughters will grow up able to take care of their hair

*If you gym, never go with your hair loose (for some sweat = crazy shrinkage) braid it or twist it and put on a head tie when it is dry you should have a nice twist out.

There was much more and the feedback was brilliant, with people asking ‘when is the next one’ and when is my next swap meet up? I don’t have the answer to that but I do know that I hope those of you that came will stay in touch.

Attendees to the meet up included

www.valleyfontaine.wordpress.com
www.manedivas.co.uk
www.naturalhairdaily.com

I know I am missing a few links so shout me if you want to be added.

Thank you so much Crystal and Hannah for getting be involved and Shaherah for taking these wonderful pictures and Belinda for sharing her hair story and giving a product for the giveaway.

Signature

What happened at the Swap Meet and Photos

IMG_1563

Me getting my nails done

The Natural Lounge Swap/meet happened on 6th July 2013 and it took place at Yager Bar in St Pauls. I am so glad I organised it as we all had a great time. The weather was perfect and the bar had three sets of doors which opened up to the outside giving us a beautiful  breeze on such a hot day.

Apart from the guests, the event was attended by UK Product Company Afrocenchix, Author Kandace Chimbiri, Nutritionist Shaherah Jordon and nail technicians from bjouxbeauty.

IMG_1519

Looking hot to trot ladies

IMG_1486

and this is why we use their products!

The first part of the day I divided the room into two and did a Natural Hair Quiz to get people started and warmed up. I found it broke the ice and got people chatting.  One of the questions was the photo below who is this?

Emeli Sandé

Who is this singer?

The winning team had to then answer a tie breaker question and the top three answers won;

A copy of the book ‘Secrets of the Afro Comb’ a £30 voucher from bjouxbeauty and a Kinky Girls essential kit by Shea Decedance,

After the quiz, Rachel and Jocelyn from Afrocenchix gave us a talk on Hair care during the summer (how timely)  it was interesting and interactive and many people commented on how they learnt a few things.

When the beautiful ladies had finished Shaherah Jordon introduced herself to the audience and gave a brief talk about the services she provides, she also reminded us to sample her delicious raw chocolate truffles and chickpea peanut butter cookies.

IMG_1462

raw chocolate truffle anyone? Yum Ym

After Shaherah, Kandance Chimbiri told us all about her work and gave the listeners a chance to win a free print from her latest book.

IMG_1503

Then it was swapping time recognize anyone?

IMG_1456IMG_1515 IMG_1514

IMG_1523IMG_1516 IMG_1560 IMG_1547 IMG_1553 IMG_1546 IMG_1537 IMG_1511 IMG_1468

 

Afterwards people relaxed, drunk cocktails, listened to the music and chit chatted for so long, when I left people were still there. This is what I managed to get from the swap, a hair bow and some curlformers and some other really lovely accessories.

IMG_20130706_201057 Hair x 2

 

Thank you for all of you that came and made it a success. The only problem is, people came with far more than they took, I guess I am going to have to organise another one.  Haha

Oh and the answer to the question above on who the celebrity was, well it was Emeli Sandé.

emeli-sande-before-famous

Signature