Tuesday, 26 June 2012

Afro Hair & Beauty (continued): June Jubilee Event Reviews

AFRO HAIR & BEAUTY (...continued)
Last year was my first time attending AHB Live and despite the many critical reviews, I sat pretty much on the fence with no previous experiences to compare it to. 1 year later, and it would be ridiculous to deny the shifting trend towards natural hair in both the USA and the UK; consequently the AHB 2012 Press Release prepared us for a new day of natural hair inclusion, with what they described as
"The Natural Zone"
So What Did I Think?

In all honesty I was hoping to not ever have to see this stand again...
The Fair & White stall at Afro Hair & Beauty Live 2012, selling skin whitening products
But there it was, I imagine, strategically placed on the the other side of the Expo Centre along the weavealicious/ make-up isle. Am I the only one who's SO over this stand being at an event to celebrate Black beauty?
A few things I'd like to ask the Organisers:
For the sake of credibility and ethics, I would like to know why you feel it's appropriate to have this stand at AHB Live? I'm aware that without the demand you probably wouldn't supply it, so I'd just like to understand how big the demand for the Fair & White stand is? I would also like to ask if you, as Organisers of an event made to acknowledge and (I imagine) celebrate Black aesthetics, feel it's appropriate to have a stall selling skin whitening products?
Without having a wealth of facts as regards Fair & White or their value to AHB I'm writing this based purely on face value, and my initial reaction to seeing skin whitening products being sold at a Black beauty event, is that it's wrong, so if I could get a few of those questions answered, maybe I could view the stall from a different perspective and with a bit more understanding, as opposed to feeling so disappointed that I'm strongly put off returning next year.
Ok, so with that out the way, let me move on to the good stuff, and in all fairness with the exception of the Fair & White stall irritating the hell out of me, I had a really good time. 
Monday seemed to be a lot busier than the day before but it's likely that the Jubilee and the miserable weather had a part to play in that. 
If you've been to the AHB at Islington before, you'll know there are two levels and the majority of the action takes place on the 1st floor, with fashion/ hair shows and performances on the main stage. I didn't really spend any time watching the stage but I did glimpse over every now and then and I quite enjoyed seeing the elaborate hair designs inspired by both the Jubilee and the Olympics.
I'd spoken to quite a few ladies, prior to AHB 2012 and I wasn't the only one curious to see what exactly this "Natural Zone" had in store. I was quite glad that it wasn't a specifically sectioned off area for "Naturals". Although most of the "natural" stalls were in one area on the 1st floor, the overall layout of the vendors felt organised as opposed to segregated, and I think that most people felt comfortable walking around all areas of the Expo regardless of how the chose to wear their hair.
We all know the Afro Hair & Beauty Show is a big deal and at one point I'm sure I heard it was Europe's largest Black hair show, so with that in mind I was really excited to know that this year some of my favourite UK brands would be showcasing their products to the masses. 
Root 2 Tip
Mahogany Naturals
Having met many of these entrepreneurial women, and being a strong supporter of their work as independent brands, I definitely felt a mixture of happiness, excitement and pride, seeing so many familiar brands at the show. I've spoken on a number of occasions about how important I believe it is to support home-grown talent, so I really hope the exposure of being at AHB helps propel their success.
Mmm Hair
Nature's Parlour
It also seems the Americans are very aware of the growing popularity of natural hair in the UK and there were a number of US brands for natural hair, most noticeably the massive Miss Jessie's stage in the middle of the 1st floor which was giving away loads of goody bags.
Miss Jessie's
Jane Carter
Taliah Waajid
Beautiful Textures

Last year I read a lot of people complaining that there weren't enough free samples. This year I've heard a few similar grumbles but personally I received more freebies this year than the year before. I felt a bit sorry for the independent brands who were less able to provide samples after the cost of hiring a stall - which is about the same price as a months rent in a 1 bedroom flat in Zone 3 London!! #BigMoney

There was some fun stuff happening that I planned to do but didnt get around to, like having henna done on my hands and trying eyelash extensions but in all honesty I think what really made the difference this year was the people.
Last year I didn't know anyone at the show, but this year having attended a lot of the natural hair meet ups that have been happening, and having connected with so many ladies via social networking (especially Twitter) it feels as though a community has formed. Consequently I spent the day bumping into friends and virtual neighbours, sharing our thoughts on the day, our experiences with the products and generally being happy to see each other. (At least this is how I felt. I cant guarantee the feeling was mutual but I like to hope so.)
Overall, I enjoyed both days and I think it was a good thing they told people there would be a "Natural Zone". I dont know if there'll be a need for anything as specific in the future. I think just having more stalls for natural hair gave the event the balance it lacked previously, which I appreciated.
I've posted a few pics below but check out my Facebook Page for a whole lot more, and check out the video to see what exactly I gathered over the weekend.
On a side-note, I actually heard one young lady complain that it was "all about natural hair this year." What d'you make of that statement?  
Arise & Shine Cosmetics - I LOVE this style!
A live Big Chop at the Officially Natural stand
A transitioning hair model at the Black Hair Magazine Stand.
With Keysha Davis - Editor of BHM



  1. In response the the 'all about natural hair this year' comment. I think that whoever said that may have noticed the amount of naturals that attended or the amount of natural hair vendors and made a quick judgement. Surely there were products for all types of hair and vendors aimed at all types of hair...

  2. I agree with your comment about the bleaching cream. It. Makes. No. Sense being there!

    I love your coverage - you really got all the pieces I wished to see but couldn't!

    I think there was no need for a 'Natural Zone'. The name in itself makes it seem like it wasn't a show for naturals in the first place... Plus I could't even tell where it started or ended! I was just glad they had more products for afros this year.

  3. Great post Crystal! I agree that one of the best parts was bumping into so many familiar faces. Hopefully the organisers do read this and answer some of your questions because I'd like to hear their responses!

  4. Great coverage of this year's Afro Hair and Beauty LIVE 2012. It was great to meet you on the day, hope to see you soon. We're looking forward to next year's event, would love to see more natural hair ladies on the runaway including natural hairstyling. I loved the fact that you overheard a lady saying it was "all about natural hair this year." It was great to see a mixture of both UK and US natural hair brands on the day. We created a social media story of the event and included your photos - http://storify.com/ON_UK/afro-hair-and-beauty-live-2012


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