Peace, love and hair grease (made with shea butter, of course)! Thousands of natural hair and beauty enthusiasts took over the Georgia International Convention Center for the 2010 World Natural Hair, Health & Beauty Show in Atlanta April 10 and 11. Since 1995, Taliah Waajid Black Earth Products has been the proud presenter of this trendsetting expo, and the 2010 summit proved to be their "biggest, baddest and best Natural Hair, Health & Beauty Show" just like they professed, with over 110 exhibits, 3 hair competitions, workshops, live music from Staxx recording artist N'Dambi, a fashion show and a worldwide multitude of kinky, curly, loc'd, braided and even a few weaved heads.
I roadtripped it down to ATL with the staff of Amazon Salon to compete in the "Locmania" competition and secure Chicago's (and my own) bragging rights for best loc'd hair. Let me just say, it's only during a 10 hour car ride that you can hear AMG's B***H Better Have My Money sandwiched between Mary J. Blige's My Life and Erykah Badu's Return of the Ankh and it's perfectly normal.
Here are MY Top 3 (because 3 is my favorite number) Highlights from my first ever in life visit to Atlanta and the World Natural Hair Show.
# 3 Headliners: The Dopest Hair Accessory
I was in the hair junkie's mecca of products, T-shirts, shea butters and oils and the ONLY thing I bought at the Hair Show was a ponytail holder! Not just any ponytail holder, oh no, this is the Coach belt of ponytail holders, lol. I've never seen anything like Headliners in Chicago and I ran over to their booth so fast after my friend bought one. I feel like my hair accessory game has been officially upgraded now with my "Ocean Blue" Headliner. Sometimes I get bored with my locs, so little things like finding a new hair accessory is like having new toy. Forgive me for being easily amused.
#2 Entwine Naturalle Coiffure Collezioni Makes Its Debut
Entwine is, "For the natural hair fashionista who chooses stilettos over flip flops, a designer bag over a head wrap, a sexy black dress over a Kente cloth sarong" and it's because of this kind of fierce positioning and branding that I immediately fell in love with this brand and wanted to become one of their models/ambassadors. Natural hair has this stereotype of being militant and tribal on one end, and bohemian and beatnik on the other. There really hasn't been a product at the forefront saying that natural hair is sexy and couture. If this were the music game, Entwine would be more Rihanna and less Amel Larrieux and even less Tracy Chapman.
Back in February I was one of only three models chosen to represent Entwine in its inaugural promo materials. The weight of that didn't really hit me until I found Entwine's booth at the expo and saw my picture on the front and back of the brochure. I felt famous! Like, forreal famous! Every time I went back to their table I had to pick up the brochure and tell whoever was standing there, "Hey, that's me!" *points at brochure then my face*.
I felt like a proud mother over the "birth" of Entwine and I'm so glad to be part of their history. Now, who do I talk to about getting an Entwine billboard in Times Square...
#1 Amazon Salon Takes 1st Place in "Locmania" Competition
* This was my first hair competition.
* This was Amazon Salon's first time competing in the World Natural Hair Show.
* I picked out my competition outfit the night before leaving Chicago for ATL.
* Amazon Salon didn't officially register to compete until the day before the competition.
* The winning hairstyle was literally created on the spot.
* The underdog won!
Going into my first hair competition I had no idea what to expect. All I knew is that I was planning to win! To be honest, there wasn't a great deal of planning about how exactly we intended to go about winning 1st Place, but to watch how it all came together so perfectly I can honestly say it all worked out exactly how it was meant to.
The moment I realized that we could actually win one of the top three prizes was the day I packed for the trip. I skimmed the rules to the competition on my Blackberry and the very first sentence told me we had this in the bag: "Elegant, beautiful, dignified and stunning are a few of the adjectives that describe the winning look in this category." I read that and felt like it described me and my style as a woman. I ended up packing a white, vintage dress (shout out to Deliciously Vintage!) with some pearls, black three-quarter length gloves and my red Betsy Johnson pumps. The look I had in mind was old Hollywood meets 2010 couture.
On Saturday, we started kicking around some ideas for our three minute competition performance. We needed something that would play off the entire vibe of the dress and accessories and ended up mentioning Erykah's Badu's song "Can't Turn Me Away (Get Munny)" from the new CD. The song is flirty and fun and fit the concept of a woman dressed like she's high class and all that. From there it was on!
We found Michael, a handsome and muscular stranger walking around the convention center and recruited him as my male prop to play the "sucker" getting his money taken. Even though he gave us hella grief the day of the show for playing the man that gets got, he was such a good sport. I'm sure it wasn't in his weekend plans to perform in a hair competition, so he gets major kudos for being open and just going with the flow.
My stylist, Nadra Smiley, came up with a hot idea for a hairstyle, but as she began to prep my hair the morning of the competition she realized the style she had in mind wasn't going to work out how she imagined it. That would have been the moment most people would've panicked and given in to the frustration, and maybe even admitted defeat, but she pulled it together and figured out how to pull off a similar style. She wanted to create a style that looked like a hat, giving me the look of a dignified lady wearing her hat say, at a tea party. Nadra's strength is execution--she focused on neatness (clean parts, symmetry, etc.) and not just creativity. That was key.
Apparently, we hit the nail on the head, because we won. I was a little nervous at the group that came out with the full theater production and dancers, but they ended up not placing at all. I remember as the judges were about to announce the winners Kojo (Amazon's resident barber) was trying to hand me a lemonade and I said, "No, I need to keep my hands free so I can run up there and get my trophy!" That's the type of expectancy you need to have when you really want something.
It was surreal to win...people taking my picture everywhere I turned...strangers wanting to take pictures with me and put them on their Facebook (one lady told me she was going to put our picture up there, lol). I felt famous...again! Lol
Now, I refer to myself as "Sandria M. Washington, writer/award-winning model"--niiiiice.
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