Hello My Cakers, Bakers and Beauties!
Despite my aversion to and self-ban from “Natural Hair Events” (NHE’s) I ended up going to, or being involved in quite a few NHE’s over the past few months.
Earlier this year I had the pleasure of properly meeting and sharing dinner with Vinna Best, after the Divas of Colour Event. DoC was held at the Hilton on Tooley Street which is about 5 minutes walk from my place and it was a very long day so after the event I was so hungry!
Vinna, and Georgina (of that Healthy Feeling please read the blog it’s amazing) were also hungry after DoC so we went to a local trendy eatery in Bermondsey Square and shared a few drinks a meal and a lively discussion about the aspects we like and don’t like about NHE’s.
Vinna Best is the co-founder of Natural Hair Week UK, (NHWUK) and unbeknownst to Vinna she had managed to convince me to attend NHWUK 2014 the event was held in six cities across the UK ; Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol, Birmingham and London I had a choice between Birmingham, Nottingham, Manchester, Leeds Bristol and London. Since I live in London I wanted to combine my attendance at NHWUK with a weekend visit to a different UK city- I decided to pick Bristol as it’s not too far from London by train and I haven’t visited Bristol since I was a tiny child.
I bought my VIP ticket to the event for £25.00, booked my hotel and train tickets and patiently waited a few weeks for the day of the event. NHWUK kicked off in Leeds this year but, I intentionally avoided reviews and photos on social media because I wanted to be surprised on the day I attended in Bristol.
I travelled to Bristol on 18th July, the day before the event, as I didn’t fancy getting out of my bed at 5am on a Saturday morning in order to get ready and catch a train that would get me to Bristol in time for the event which started at 10:00 for registration.
I stayed in the Ibis Hotel at Bristol Temple Meads about 5 minutes’ walk from the station. The hotel was very clean and comfortable I would definitely stay there again.
On the morning of the event I stopped off at the famous Hart’s Bakery for breakfast, I had a delicious vegetarian pasty with black beans sweet potatoes and peppers, I also bought a Harts Bakery Special “Saturday Bread” a yummy, fluffy, cakey, bready hunk of delightful caramel bottomed sweetness. Sorry I have no photos of the food it was a rainy morning and I was VERY hungry, I’m definitely going back though so next time I’ll take pics.
NHWUK Bristol, was held at the Hilton Double Tree Hotel, there were two main areas the event was held in; a large room set up with rows of seats and a stage plus a back room area for the vendors.
Trichologist Shirley McDonald, also had a side room set up for private consultations, I thought this was a fantastic idea, so many events are only full of bloggers and stylists – don’t get me wrong I love bloggers and some stylists but until attending NHWUK I hadn’t been to a NHE that provided an opportunity for attendees to get private medical advice relating to their personal hair/scalp issues.
As a VIP ticket holder I was given a gold swag bag which contained full-size products as well as large samples, additionally I had a front row seat reserved for me in the main hall.
The Bristol event was much smaller than some other NHE’s I been to, but that is what I loved about it the most, it wasn’t hot and crowded, there wasn’t a crazy feeling of urgency and I got to speak to every single vendor.
During the talks and panel discussion everyone who wanted to make a point or ask a question was able to do so and the atmosphere was warm and friendly the event was very much about sharing knowledge and experiences.
The Naturalistas in Bristol were so nice! There were several generations of “Bristolian” Black women in attendance and there was even a teacher and one of her ex pupils!
In my opinion it seems like the “Black community” in Bristol is a lot more tight knit that the “Black Community” in London but that stands to reason because Bristol is a much smaller city than London and there are fewer People of Colour.
NHWUK was hosted by Elle and Neicey from Natural Hair Daily, and throughout the day there was plenty to do:
- Seminars from hair and skin care experts
- Complimentary facials from skin care expert Antonia Burrell
- Free Mini makeovers by Fashion Fair
- Head wrapping workshops by Akhu Designs
- Brands selling natural hair and beauty products including LUSH, Beauty Me and Hairfinity
- Natural hairstyling demos from celebrity hairdresser Desmond Murray
There were so many free gifts and giveaways!
I got to meet and have a long conversation with the European Hairfinity Distributor, he was an interesting fellow, let’s just say I wasn’t convinced to buy the product after our little chat…
One interesting product I saw was the Edge Stick, it’s used to straighten and smooth your edges with heat, it’s also designed to minimise the risk of burning your skin. I personally wouldn’t use it because I feel that it’s more suited to ladies with chemically straightened hair who want to blend their new growth. However I can testify that the Edge Stick works and it’s very easy to use.
After the Event a big group of us from London went out to eat dinner with some of the attendees from Bristol, they were so friendly it was like visiting relatives that I hadn’t met before, one lovely lady even offered to cook everyone dinner at her house!
Coincidentally it was the Bristol Harbour Festival on the same weekend so after dinner we strolled down to the waterside for ice cream before everyone went back to their individual hotels.
The next day Vinna, her dad – Mr Best and I headed back to the waterfront to check out the festival during the day time before going back to London, it was a lovely warm day, we had lunch at a restaurant that serves Caribbean inspired food and spotted some young Black males rocking their natural hair too!
Mr Best was kind enough to offer me a life back to London in their car and on the way home I was discussing the Bristol event with Vinna and I suggested that they have a product swap at the London date, Vinna was receptive to the idea which I explained was based on the product swap that Angel of the Natural Lounge had hosted. Vinna asked if I’d run the product swap table myself, I accepted and so I ended up going to the London date of NHWUK as well
Photos of the product swap at NHWUK London:
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Hello my Lovelies!
I met Candace Kelly – journalist and naturalista at the NHW London Event, Candace was so lovely that when she mentioned she was having her own hair event- the Let Your Hair Down Expo in Brooklyn, NYC in September I knew I had to be there!
I let my pen pal Tonia know I was going to be in USA again and she agreed to meet me in NYC and hang out for a few days, I told my mum about the event and she was keen to come along with me too, so before you know it, a girly trip to NYC had been booked!
Tonia, gave me the heads up on a hotel that was still being built but would be open upon our arrival, the Element hotel in Harrison NJ, upon Tonia’s recommendation we booked a suite at the hotel. The hotel was amazing and you can read my full review here on Tripadvisor under the name Sianthe B.
The first few days in New Jersey was spent relaxing and eating mainly, we cooked in the hotel suite and went into Harlem to eat at Sylvia’s a famous “Soul Food” restaurant. I know people are going to hate me for saying this but my mum are I were underwhelmed by the food at Sylvia’s it was all quite salty, soft and lacking in depth of flavour, however they could have been having an off day…
Parked near Sylvia’s was a interesting looking truck, which turned out to be a Mobile Boutique! We met the lovely owner of the boutique/vehicle- Nneka Ingram and all purchased a few of her unique accessories.
It turns out that NNeka is also a make-up artist so I booked an appointment for her to do my make up for the Let Your Hair Down Expo.
On Saturday 13th September I made my way to Nneka’s truck a tiny bit late, but she was able to do an amazing job on my face in 30 minutes, then I was back on the Subway and headed to Waverly Avenue in Brooklyn for the hair event.
The event was split into two halves and I’d bought a ticket for the first session which was 12:00 – 16:00. There was a queue when I arrived but I was happy to chat to the Brooklyn Naturalistas and ogle more gorgeous natural hair.
Session one consisted of two workshops:
Presenting Felicia Leatherwood!
She is internationally known for her natural hair artistry and her Loving Your Natural Hair with Natural Care Workshop where naturalistas learn from her years of experiences. Yes, she does the hair of those on the red carpet but this licensed stylist will help you shape your look. Learn about hair care maintenance, low and high end products and styles that suit you.
Live with The Curl Whisperer! Tameeka’s Transformations
Join the Curl Whisperer, Tameeka McNeil Johnson for Tameeka’sTransformations. Natural hair enthusiasts are flocking to this licensed stylist for her advice. Come out and see naturals get some serious makeovers and get a copy of her bookLittle Black Book of Rules for Curly Girls.
(lavender text from www.letyourhairdownexpo.com)
As well as the workshops, there were many vendors, hourly prizes and a large section dedicated to Hairfinity who were the main sponsors of the event. As always I really enjoyed talking to the vendors and shopping.
Felicia’s workshop was basically the same workshop she did at events in London and Paris so I’d already heard it before and the audience questions were very also similar.
Tameeka’s workshop was more interesting to me, because I’d never seen/heard of her before and she was quite dynamic and energetic while giving her talk and demonstration, I liked the fact that Tameeka did her demonstration on a girl with short hair and a kinkier texture, too many times at hair events I see demo’s on girls with long/curly hair which is nice but I appreciate diversity and watching demo’s that give me a better idea of what could work on my mid- length kinky coily hair.
I wore a custom made outfit from House of Loulee to the event and got so many compliments from EVERYONE who saw me that day, if you like my outfit, head to House of Loulee and contact the designer and founder Lucy Lee to get your own garments made. House of Loulee also have a wide range of ready to wear garments, gifts and toys for the whole family. (Just in case you’re thinking this, no I haven’t been paid to plug H.O.L.L they just have amazing stuff and I think everyone should know!)
All in all, I did enjoy the Expo even though I didn’t learn anything new about natural hair/care and I missed the panel discussion at the end of the day (featuring Rachy of Uk afrolista formerly UK Naturals) because I was so exhausted I had to go back to the hotel and sleep.
The standout part of the day for me was meeting and having a really nice talk with Hairfinity spokesmodel/ambassador Torsha McElroy – Torsha is a young lady who had a horrific car accident in 2011, she lost all of her hair as a result of the accident and within 20 months of taking hairfinity consistently she had grown her hair back to it’s original length . I first saw Torsha in a Hairfinity promotional video at NHWUK 2014 and I was horrified that Hairfinity was using this lady’s near-fatal accident to peddle a hair supplement, I was really concerned that Hairfinity were explioting Torsha and I was disgusted…
However after meeting Torsha my fears were allayed and she was very open and honest with me about her working relationship with Hairfinity.
There was a huge turnout for the event and Candace Kelly is lovely, I also met Jenell of BlakIzBeautyful who is as pretty, gracious and humble in real life as she comes across on YT.
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I haven’t shared this with you but I am a massive Musical Theatre fan, in fact I love Musical films as well and I wish I actually lived in a Musical, imagine I’m just cycling through town then I randomly burst into song and rather than thinking I’m crazy the whole town joins in, magically knowing the melody, lyrics and choreography to my song!
A couple of years ago I watched a really funny video on YouTube of a young man singing his Mc Donald’s drive through order, not only was the video funny but the young man had a really good singing voice and the Mc Donald’s employee actually got the order correct!
That young man was Todrick Hall, and since then I have watched every single YouTube video that he has uploaded and one umm… odd one that was on someone’s channel featuring a duet called “I want you Black”…
Todrick has achieved so much in his career both on and off YT and even though I don’t want to be a famous star, Mr Hall inspires me, he is proof that if you are not “given” the opportunity to do what you want in life you can create your own opportunities.
Toddy Rockstar – as he is affectionately known has achieved so much including working with Beyoncé to choreograph “Blow”, writing the song for and starring in an amazing Virgin America safety video and he also made Forbes 30 under 30 list for 2014.
So a couple of months ago I was very excited to hear that Todrick Hall was going on tour and coming to London, I bought two tickets to his show “Twerk du Soleil” immediately.
The show was on 24th August 2014 at the Leicester Square Theatre, I decided to go to the show in Fancy Dress if you’re familiar with Todrick’s work then the costume would make sense, I decided on a Disney meets Burlesque theme. I wore a large scarf to cover my cleavage all day I only took my scarf off for this photo.
I went to the show with my good friend Antoinette as I knew she would appreciate Todrick’s madcap & camp brand of humour and hilarity as much as I do.
We arrived at 17:00 in time for the 17:30 meet and greet but we were informed that the meet and greet would now be after the show…
So off we went to nearby Haagen Dazs Café to kill time until the show started.
(By the way their new Caramel Biscuit and Cream ice cream is AMAZING!!)
We were let into the theatre at around 19:00 and found our seats in the intimate space, the size of the theatre is more like a cinema auditorium but that was fine with us.
There was no opening act and the main show started at around 19:40 I know this because I was what’s app-ing my friend Dawn (Hi Dawn) at the time.
The performance was really good, high energy and a lot of fun, basically Todrick and cast recreated several of Todrick’s YT videos live on stage. I have only included short clips of the show because it wouldn’t have been fair or legal for me to record then upload an entire number, or the entire show.
This is supposed to be a playlist but it seems like it’s not playing properly in this post, you can watch all of the videos on youtube.
They opened with the singing fast food orders, using audience members as the staff from Mc Donalds, Subway and Starbucks it was amazing to see how much Todrick’s fans “The Toddlerz” love him.
As much as I admire many people, I have never been one to fawn over celebrities or go crazy when I meet them, I think I’m just too calm for all of that.
There was a lot of audience participation in the show and Todrick wished a Happy Birthday and sang (collectively) to every single person in the audience that claimed it was their birthday on Sunday.
We also saw live versions of “Beauty and the Beat”, “Once Upon a Crime” and arguably Todrick’s most famous video, the “End of Time” flash mob performance which was the finale.
I was slightly disappointed that we didn’t see “Spell Block Tango” or “All That Azz” which are “Chicago” parodies, as “Chicago” is one of my favourite musicals but we did see “Twerking in the Rain” which is so darn catchy!!!
The show finished at about 20:40 and then we waited about 45 minutes for the meet and greet to begin, it was a small theatre so it was really hot while we were waiting but the crowd was mostly excitable youngsters and there were not many grumbles.
Todrick came across in the flesh as he does on his videos, he was really nice to all of the children in front of me in the queue, who were so excited to meet him, below is a video of Todrick signing a poster for the young girl in front of me.
I do wish the show had been a longer but I can appreciate that it is hard work to sing and dance live, plus I knew that several cast members were only in the London show so there is a limit to how much they could learn and remember in the couple days they had to rehearse before the show.
That’s it for my review, thanks for reading I’m off now to Twerk in the rain…
Hello My Cakers Bakers and Beauties!
This one is for the Londoners or those that can travel to London easily…
For about the last six months I have been attending the Queen Nzingha Lectures at Birkberk college University of London.
This is the description of the lectures from the Black History Walks website.
Queen Nzinga was an African Queen who fought against the European invasion of southern Africa (Congo/Angola).
The Queen Nzinga lecture series features African/Caribbean female academics / holders of expert knowledge, speaking on topics of their choice on a monthly basis. The Nzinga lecture series provides a regular platform for women of African descent to highlight important issues in an academic setting.
I have really been enjoying these FREE lectures and have learned so much more about my history and culture. On Saturday 12th April the Queen Nzingha lecture was entitled:
African Hair Police : Death and Discrimination on your head
Obviously that caught my attention and I was even more excited to hear that UK Natural Hair Blogger Crystal Afro was one of the Queens speaking at this lecture. The other Queen was Kandace Chimbiri, the founder of Golden Destiny publishing house and author of the book “Secrets Of The Afro Comb“.
The Lecture was opened by Tony Warner who talked about how hair texture and curl patterns were also used along with skin tone to discriminate and segregate people of colour around the world by their oppressors.
Tony’s introduction really brought the topic into context and as always I learned a bit more about Black History. Tony’s introduction covered:
- The Pencil Test
- The Haarfarbentel ‘racial value’ test
- Africans in Germany during World War 2
- Genocide by sex. Australia vs Brazil
- How and why African hair became devalued
- Hair vs skin as a tool of discrimination
Tony then introduced Ms Chimbiri who gave us an amazing audio-visual talk which linked the seemingly unrelated topics of colonialism in Southern Africa, World War 1,The Stolen Generation, Hitler’s Germany, the Black Power movement, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, Lupita Nyongo and everyday life for women of African descent in England in the present day.
We had a short break and were able to actually look at a genuine historical artefact the “Haarfarbentafel” owned by UCL Museums and Collections this rare Haarfarbentafel (hair colour chart) which was manufactured in the early 20th century as a ‘standard’ scale for hair hierarchy, people were killed if their hair did match up to the samples in the “right” end of the scale. Looking at this object both fascinated and disgusted simultaneously.
Crystal Afro spoke next and she first challenged us to come up with a list of 5 well known celebrated British women of African Descent first from different decades in history then in 2014 once we had shouted out our answers she then asked the same question but added “with natural hair”, we actually could not come up with 5 well known and celebrated “Black British” women with natural hair, if you can please add your list in the comments below, and by well known I mean the average person on the street would know who the women are.
Crystal explained that when she first decided to stop chemically straightening her hair, she struggled to find examples of well known Black British women who didn’t chemically straighten their hair, in fact even the Sisters on the internet who were going through their “Natural Hair Journeys” were almost exclusively American. That was one of the reasons that Crystal set up her blog The United Kinkdom. In fact The United Kinkdom was my best source of support and knowledge in my first days of going natural and I still follow the blog today.
Crystal delivered her part of the lecture with intellectual style and aplomb, unlike a few of the Natural Hair Bloggers I’ve met, Crystal is not style over substance, she cares deeply about the health not just the looks of our Sisters and takes her passion for natural hair beyond the scalp . Crystal actually stayed for almost two hours after the talk and had one-on-one conversations with every single one of the ladies in the audience who wanted to speak with her, I might sound a bit like a fan and I guess in a way I am, I really support what Crystal is trying to do and it helps that she is so sweet and humble as well.
After the Lecture we watched an exclusive ten minute advance preview of the new film from Toyin Agbetu “Beauty Is” and then we had extended Q and A with Ms Chimbiri, Crystal and Mr Agbetu on the Panel.
The Q and A was mainly about hair of course and the panellists were all asked some quite confrontational and challenging questions by members of the audience, but they all answered the questions honestly, tactfully and professionally even though they still put some people in their place when they were asking questions that showed they were not listening properly to some of the information that had been shared earlier. Crystal even admitted that she cried for 2 weeks when she first went natural and I think that type of information is important to share because not everyone is immediately in love with their natural hair when they big chop, but you wouldn’t know that from the way that most Naturalistas present themselves and their hair stories. I certainly was not in love with my TWA (Teeny Weeny Afro) in the beginning and that is why there are no photos of me with my hair like that. I wish I had taken the pics then because it would have been nice to look back on them, but oh well I do not have a time machine…
Here is a clip from the Q and A session please forgive the quality of pics and video in this post, I was using my phone:
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