Girly NYC Trip and Let Your Hair Down Expo 2014!

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.

Views from,in the hotel room and selfie on the plane!

Views from and in the hotel room and selfie on the plane!

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…

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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.

Nneka and her amazing boutique-truck

Nneka and her amazing boutique-truck

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.

Excuse the quality this was a selfie taken on the subway

Selfie Collage - This is the makeup  done by Nneka, the photos with me in the grey straps were taken 12  hours after the make up was applied and I'd been rained on!!

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.

Hair Porn in the queue.

Hair Porn in the queue.

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.

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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.

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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!)

Outfit by House of Loulee, Make up by Nneka Ingram hair by Georgy.

Outfit by House of Loulee, Make up by Nneka Ingram hair by Georgy.

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.

Me and Torsha

Me and Torsha

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.

Thanks for reading

Luv

Sian

x

Birthday Holiday Part 1. New Orleans – Laissez les bons temps rouler!

Hello My Cakers Bakers and Beauties!

This is the first post about the (birthday holiday) I took with my Husband to the United States in May 2014-  we went to 4 different cities/towns in 3 different States, so since I’m prone to writing long posts anyway I decided to split the trip into 3 posts and try to keep each post relatively short and sweet. *Someone* forgot to bring the memory card for our proper camera and decided not to buy one while we were away so all of my photos/videos were taken on my Samsung Galaxy S4. I would apologise for the picture quality but I think that my little phone did really well!

I know that the title of this post is not grammatically correct, “proper French”, it is Cajun French phrase which has been literally translated from the English  “Let the Good Times Roll!”

In this case “roll” is quite literal…

If you haven’t figured it out already our first stop was the Crescent City  aka New Orleans!

We arrived in the dead of night and the first thing that hit us was the heat and humidity, I wasn’t complaining though!

For the duration of this holiday my Husband (who shall be also referred to as “H”or “Hubby”) happened to be in a wheelchair, a manual collapsible wheelchair that he was not able to operate alone which meant that I was pushing him in the wheelchair for the majority of the time.

We stayed in the Crowne Plaza Astor Hotel on Canal St which is on the edge of the famous French Quarter,  the hotel is actually on the corner of Canal/Bourbon street so we had an interesting view in the evenings from the balcony in the hotel.

View from hotel balcony

View from hotel balcony

On our first full day in N’awlins we discovered that the French Quarter is not really wheelchair accessible, the paving is atrocious! The Paving slabs are not at an even height and in some places the paving slabs were not present! Instead there were large holes full of broken glass and murky liquid from the previous night’s activities, it was very, very difficult for us to navigate the streets of the French Quarter and we often had to cross the street because of hazards and obstacles on our side of the street, on Bourbon St particularly we had to cross back and forth about 12 times, because of this we did not experience any of the night life the FQ has to offer, the pavements and roads get very crowded with rowdy and often roaring drunk tipsy tourists at night so we decided that it wasn’t worth the hassle.

Despite only venturing out during the day we had an amazing time in New Orleans and we will definitely be going back.

Just in case you are new to my blog I have to mention that I  love food, not just baked goods but practically everything (except cheese)

Without further ado I present to you a small selection of the best food we ate in NOLA (New Orleans, LouisianA) and some of the places we visited during our 3 day stop over.

We had beignets and chocolate milk/ Café au lait in Café du Monde on Decatur Street,

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I was enjoying my choccy milk until… I read the ingredients and discovered it had High Fructose Corn Syrup in it, I can’t get into why HFCS is so bad for you but Google it if you don’t believe me. HFCS is evil and I avoid it like the plague.

We listened to live Jazz in Jackson Square.

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We visited St Louis Cathedral  the oldest (active) Cathedral in North America,

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We went on the Riverside Walk beside the Mississippi River

 (This was the most accessible part of the FQ the paving was smooth and even)

The Mighty Mississippi

The Mighty Mississippi

Frozen Chocolate dipped Bananas from a street vendor. Yummy!

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We ate a Seafood Platter at Deanie’s Seafood and had cocktails including NOLA’s most famous cocktail, the Hurricane.

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I wanted it grilled, hubby wanted it fried – guess who won? At least I got my veggies even though they were not even on the menu & I had to make a special order!

My "Ice Cream Martini" to the left Hubby's "Hurricane" to the right.

My “Ice Cream Martini” to the left Hubby’s “Hurricane” to the right.

Crawfish Boil! @ The Original French Market Restaurant and Bar,  the ground floor is accessible but the toilets are on 3rd floor !!!(another Hurricane – this one was better I suspect the Deanies one had HFCS & E numbers in it!)

We did try to shop in the actual French Market but I was disappointed in the stalls. On the 3 separate occasions we visited the market not one vendor was selling locally made/crafted souvenirs, everything was made in China or other Asian countries,  I have nothing against China and when I visit there I will be happy to purchase souvenirs made there.

So tasty, boiled in a seasoned and peppery hot base.

So tasty, boiled in a seasoned and peppery hot base.

We also visited the beautiful and historic Louis Armstong Park,

the park was also wheelchair accessible with lots of smooth flat surfaces but there was also a lot of gravel.

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PicMonkey Collage

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We also took the streetcar out of the FQ to the Garden District, the streetcar wasn’t really accessible at all, but H could walk a little bit so the streetcar operators helped me fold the wheelchair and stow it behind the driver’s seat.

The streetcars were quite  slow, obviously I know they are old and I think they are mainly for tourists (kind of like the Emirates cable car in London) because they don’t seem an efficient mode of public transport at all, especially as there are buses everywhere that travel much faster.

If I thought the paving in FQ was bad, Magazine street in the Garden District was even worse, there are a lot of old trees in the GD and the trees roots cause the paving slabs to break up and become uneven and quite frankly dangerous I saw many able-bodied people tripping up on this “crazy paving”  even the dropped curbs were useless as they had been raised by tree roots, I mainly ended up pushing the wheelchair in the road. Yes we could have taken Taxis everywhere but I love walking, pushing the wheelchair was great exercise for me and we were able to spend more money on FOOD!

Lunch at the Rum House

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To be honest our trip to the GD was a bit of a waste of time, yes the lunch was nice but none of the shops/restaurants were immediately accessible, they all had narrow doors and you had to step up or down into the establishments, very few of the places had portable ramps but I had to leave my husband outside in the baking hot sun and go inside the shop to ask if they had a ramp and it felt like such a long process just for a bit of window shopping, if a sales assistant took the hassle to drag the ramp out I felt really bad for not buying anything. Of the few places that had portable ramps we always had to use the side/back/service entrance which really made me feel like we were 2nd class citizens.

I did find a lovely shop called Fleurty Girl which was full of locally made garments and items designed by locals,                                     so I bought his/hers New Orleans t-shirts mine has a design that was  a doodle from a napkin and H’s shirt is a voodoo skull which includes  a lot of  NOLA imagery including the po’boy (sandwich), streetcar, voodoo symbols, fleur de lis, crawfish, alligators, oysters, and many more.

Thanks to hubby for modelling, you can't see my design properly when I'm wearing it.

Thanks to hubby for modelling, you can’t see my design properly when I’m wearing it.

All in all we really enjoyed our time in NOLA despite most of the city not being wheelchair friendly. This was not the first time I’ve visited “The South”  but NOLA has it’s own unique charm and style, for the most part the natives of the city were friendly and helpful. We even met a retired guide called Dave who gave us a map and instructions on how to experience the best parts of the city cheaply/free, we didn’t get to do half the things Dave suggested but we still have that map and we will bring it with us next time.

In many ways New Orleans reminds me of the Caribbean, there is a laid back – easy going vibe, local music is ALWAYS playing when you’re out and about, the people and food are a delicious melting-pot of Cultures and Ethnicities and of course the hot and humid weather.

The Crescent City has much more for us to discover, there was so much local food we didn’t get to try like muffalettas, po’boys, gumbo, jambalaya and anything with gator in it. There are also many, many things we didn’t experience, horse and carriage tours, steamboat rides, cemetery tours and so on.

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I’d also like to learn more about Voodoo (‘Voudou’ is the preferred spelling of some) and Spiritual side of the city but I understand that many aspects of Voodoo have been appropriated by store keepers looking to make a quick buck from gullible tourists looking for love potions and fake “Voodoo Dolls”. Voodoo is a religion and  should be respected in the same way that people respect Christianity, Islam and other “Major” religions. Having Jamaican ancestry I know a bit about Obeah and Myal other Religions that have some similarities to Voodoo and Hoodoo beliefs and practices. Contrary to popular belief Voodoo isn’t a cult, black magic or worship of the Christian devil.

People who practice Voodoo are not witchdoctors, sorcerers or occultists. Voodoo isn’t a practice intended to hurt or control others.

Unfortunately Racism clouds people’s view of Voodoo, it is rooted in slavery and intricately connected to political and social evolution. Voodoo was first practised in America and the Caribbean by slaves of African descent, whose culture was both feared and ridiculed. Slaves were not considered fully human. Their religion was dismissed as superstition, their priests were denigrated as witchdoctors, their Gods and Spirits were denounced as evil. As usual people fear what they do not understand.

Mosaic on the floor of a corner shop

Mosaic on the floor of a corner shop

Anyway as per usual I’ve gone off on a tangent and this post has ended up being way too long, please forgive my digression…

 Until next time don’t forget to Laissez le bon temps rouler!

Our next stop is Las Vegas, I hope you enjoyed this post as much as I enjoyed putting it together, it has taken a week to get this post up!

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Thanks for reading, Luv Sian x

Sources: The New Orleans Voodoo Handbook by Kenaz Filan (btw a very interesting read)

             What is Voodoo? Understanding a Misunderstood Religion – Article by Saumya Arya Haas on HuffingtonPost.com

 

NHA Paris 2014!

Hello my Naturalistas!

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I wish they had also printed an English version of this magazine…

The 3rd Annual Natural Hair Academy Paris was held on Saturday 15th March 2014 at L’Espace Tapis Rouge in Paris!

As you know I had made a decision not to go to any more “Natural Hair Events” but I really wanted to see if France could offer anything different to the UK Natural Hair events I’ve been to in the past.

I paid for my everything myself  on this trip -unless I specifically state something was free, I mention this so you know that my review/recap is honest and non-biased, I did not have a wristband or VIP access to the event. I’m not saying that VIP’s are  dishonest I’m just making it clear that I haven’t been paid or “gifted” to write this review.

When purchasing tickets to the event there were three options:

Option one – The Felicia Leatherwood Workshop 35.00 Euros

Option two – The Monroe Sisters & Clarisse Libene Workshop 35.00 Euros

Option three – All of the workshops 60.00 Euros

Although I had never heard of the Monroe Sisters or Clarisse Libene before the event I decided to Purchase the 60 Euro ticket so that I could fully experience the event. I went to Paris with my Mum so I bought her an all-workshops ticket too.

Before booking my accommodation I contacted the organiser Gwladys  and asked for some tips on where to stay and if the workshops would be in both French and English, Gwladys was extremely helpful and answered all of my many questions leading up to the event itself.

Gwladys also invited me to the NHA Launch/Cocktail  party which was held at the venue the evening before the main event.

The Cocktail party was due to start at 18:30 but everything wasn’t quite ready on time, that wasn’t a big issue as there were enough punctual guests there for me to mix & mingle with and  practice my French on!

I met a couple of the French Bloggers I follow:

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Gaelle From the Curvy and Curly Closet

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The Lovely Deborah

The Cocktail Party was really a Panel discussion -entitled Curls and Discussion  the subject matter was of course Hair more specifically wearing your natural hair with confidence, the panel also told us personal hair anecdotes.

The discussion was hosted by the delightfully witty, elegant and bilingual Clarisse Libene founder of Bellebene (far left with the microphone and black & white head wrap.)

The beauties on the Panel were (from left to right) : Kelly Masso founder of French hair brand Les Secrets de Loly,  Kelly J the founder of Natural Girls Rock, The Monroe Sisters, Felicia Leatherwood and Fatou- French Blogger and beauty editor of Ghubar Magazine.

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Les Secrets de Loly were also giving all the attendees the opportunity to receive a free gift of a hydrating repairing mist and a customised 100% natural hair masque, we were able to select an “active ingredient” such as hydration, silkening, or protein and a fragrance I won’t list all of the fragrances but I chose the White Tea fragrance and it smells lovely, I can’t wait to try it out!

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Kelly hard at work with the hair masques

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After the discussion Mum and I went to grab some hot food and go to bed we’d had a long day after a long week at work…

We were staying in the gorgeous bijou L’Horset Opera Hotel which is on Rue d’Antin, 5 minutes’ walk away from the famous Parisian Opera House.

Our Hotel

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The Opera House – Palais Garnier

The Opera Metro station is right in front of the Palais Garnier so it was really easy for us to get around the city, while we were in Paris their entire public transport system was free because there were record levels or air pollution in the city and the government wanted to try and encourage people to leave their cars at home and use public transport.

The Parisian Metro system was very easy to navigate, but maybe that’s because I understand quite a bit of French and I’m used to London’s complicated underground network and NYC’s crazy Subways!

The Metro was a bit basic – you have to open the doors yourself (I hate touching anything on public transport and wore gloves the whole time)

Some of the doors only have a metal latch that can operate the doors whilst the train is in motion! I jumped off quite a few moving trains over the weekend, once the train was in a station and had slowed down of course!

The trains were also a bit old and grubby with lots of graffiti and the aroma of urine lingering in most carriages (bearing in mind we only used lines 7 and 9 the entire weekend.)

The Main Event

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There were 3 main workshops for the day, each workshop ran concurrently and repeated 3 times so that all of the ticket holders could attend their workshops, it would have been a nightmare to have all 1000+ attendees in one room for each workshop and I don’t think there was an auditorium large enough any way.

If my explanation seems  complicated please look at my table below: the timings and room numbers are not exact but you should get a better idea of how it worked.

Room Number 10:30 11:45 16:45
Room 1 Monroe Sisters Clarisse Libene Felicia Leatherwood
Room 2 Clarisse Libene Felicia Leatherwood Monroe Sisters
Room 3 Felicia Leatherwood Monroe Sisters Clarisse Libene

 

The Monroe sisters are very pretty (as you can see) and they both have full heads of natural hair, so they each know what works for their hair.

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I found their workshop to be better suited to newly naturals or women who haven’t done their own research about hair already. The Monroe Sisters had a live protective styling demo on a girl they picked out of the audience, I was impressed by Ms Vaughn’s ability to style hair live on stage while answering questions from the audience and with everything being translated into French simultaneously but the finished style was not to my taste, plus I would have liked to see the demo on  a girl with  shorter hair, or a transitioner – I think that would have been more useful but I’m aware that they only had a certain amount of time for each workshop.  SONY DSC

After the demo, the Monroe sisters shared their hair regimen with the audience I always think that telling people your own hair regimen can be a bit of a red herring and give newbies false hope because- as we all know everyone’s hair is different and what works for one Naturalista would not necessarily work for everyone else. A basic instruction on what steps can be included in our hair regimen is definitely useful  for newly naturals but copying someone else’s exact hair regimen and thinking that your hair will turn out exactly like theirs is never a good idea. The Monroe sisters plugged the Huetiful steamer at every opportunity but that is to be expected as Huetiful sponsor them, they even showed a video showing how to use the steamer as part of their workshop the video was mute but there was a French voice over, considering that the Monroe sisters are not fluent in French themselves I think they could have at least had English subtitles on the video but maybe they did not have any control over that element of production.

The finished style

The finished style

My next workshop wasn’t until 13:45 so I wandered over to the Phyto Specific “Hair Diagnostic” area, I was able to walk straight in and talk to Kathy Jean-Louis, the director of Phyto Specifc she was very knowledgeable about the brand and how it was developed. I didn’t intend to buy any hair products on this trip as I am as self-confessed Product Junkie and my Husband had to build me a special shelf just to house all of my hair products. Ms Jean-Louis didn’t try to sell me anything and there weren’t actually any products lined up anywhere, It was really nice not to feel pressured into buying anything, instead Ms J-L asked me if I wanted a hair diagnostic so I sat down with one of her colleagues who used a high-powered microscope with a live camera and monitor to examine my hair and scalp close up. The lady who was doing my hair diagnosis only spoke a little English but since I speak a bit of French I managed to understand my hair diagnosis.  I learned that my scalp and hair were well nourished and hydrated, I have a mixture of fine and medium hair strands and lower down on my strands – towards the tips my cuticles are frayed and damaged but my hair is not snapping off at the ends.

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I know my ends are bad because of the chemical damage from colouring my hair if you read my blog then you know that I am transitioning out of this chemical damage without big chopping my hair again, I simply coloured my ends Black with a gentle powder box colour and I’m keeping it moving.  The hair diagnosis lady recommended a few Phyto Specific products I might like to try and I bought a few of them, the actual products were stored behind a screen partition and there was a desk where I could make my purchases the whole experience was really interesting and not rushed or pressured, I even got a couple of free gifts, a beige patent bag- which is guess is to store make-up or products since it has no handles and a free sample of the Phyto Specific  deep treatment bath. SONY DSC

Later in the day the queue for the Phyto Specific hair diagnostic was so long it snaked down the grand staircase and into the main hall, I think they were a victim of their own success a couple of my friends waited for over 3 hours in that queue!

The Clarisse Libene workshop was in partnership with the “Jane Carter Solution” Jane Carter was there by the side of the stage but she was more of a silent partner – at least in my version of the workshop. Lisa Price the founder of Carol’s Daughter was also invited on stage to say a few words.

From L -R Jane Carter, Lisa Price, Clarisse Libene

From L -R Jane Carter, Lisa Price, Clarisse Libene

Although Clarisse is fluent in English she did not give any part of her workshop in English and there was no English translation at all which was a real shame because with my limited French I could only understand 50-60% of Clarisse’s workshop and even then I found it to be the most interesting and informative workshop of the day. Clarisse’s workshop actually went into the science of our hair and the different growth cycles she also talked about the internal and external factors that can affect both hair growth and retention.

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I personally found Clarisse’s workshop the most helpful because rather than just go on about how she washes her own hair and what products she uses, Clarisse actually gave honest factual and practical information that any woman, relaxed or natural could understand and in some cases implement.  At the end of Clarisse’s workshop there was an informative quiz with multiple choice questions, at the end of the quiz Clarisse gave everyone the correct answers so they could mark their scores down and the girls who had the best scores were rewarded with a full sized Jane Carter product each.

SONY DSC Clarisse has an amazing stage presence and such a dry sense of humour that I thoroughly enjoyed her workshop even though I  couldn’t understand every single word.

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My last workshop of the day was the Felicia Leatherwood “Loving Your Hair With Natural Care “workshop. Felicia’s workshop was really good, before she started her workshop Lisa Price the founder of Carol’s Daughter came on stage to say a few words, Lisa was really sweet and humble and just said a few words about how she started her company (with body products first not hair products) and she said she was really happy to be part of the event and glad to see to many different women representing so many types of beautiful.

Felicia started off by selecting girls from the audience and explaining their hair types and what kind of regime/styling suits each hair type, apparently the way to accurately assess your hair type is when your hair is wet. Felicia also gave lots of helpful information regarding going to hairstylists, how to detangle your hair and when to trim your hair – when the season changes so 4 times per year. Felicia recommends that Jamaican Black Castor Oil is applied to your scalp not your hair at least three times per week where it can be absorbed into your scalp and act as a fertiliser for your follicles. Felicia also did 3 live hair demonstrations on girls from the audience and showed us how to recreate this gorgeous style she did on Teyonah Parris’ natural tresses:

hair demo 1

Roughly one week prior to the event we were emailed and given the opportunity to enter our tickets into a draw for a bonus workshop given by the famous Taren Guy (aka Taren916 on YouTube).

Taren Guy

My tickets were chosen in the draw and I made sure I entered the hall early so I could actually get a seat. This was the only workshop where tickets were actually checked!

Taren’s workshop started a little bit late but it wasn’t too bad, Taren (and her hair) looked fabulous as usual.

Taren was glowing with her pregnancy and she looked very comfortable in skyscraper heels and skinny jeans with a loose denim-look silk embellished top.

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As for the actual content of Taren’s “workshop” I will just say that I don’t think I was her target audience… Taren told us about her hair journey (like most of her subscribers I’ve heard it already on YT) Taren also invited two girls from the audience who don’t like their hair texture and spoke to them about why they don’t like their textures but also what they do like about their textures.

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I was glad to get the opportunity to attend Taren’s very popular “Love and Learn your Hair” workshop,

I am subscribed to Taren’s YT channel and I know she has toured with her workshop so I was interested to see what all of the Hype was about, but at NHA Paris Taren herself admitted that she is not a hair expert and she usually has a stylist with her on tour to answer specific hair related questions. Most of the women in the audience were acting as if Taren is the Beyoncé of the “Natural Hair Community” and queued up for ages after the workshop to take photos with her, in fact as Taren entered the hall before she started the workshop,  the room was illuminated with hundreds of flashes as if the room was full of Paparazzi! I have respect and admiration for every sister doing it for herself but I don’t fawn over people or make a big fuss over “celebrities.”

As well as the three main ticketed workshops there were also free workshops given by Mixed Chicks and Huetiful. On the ground floor there were many pop-up shops representing hair and beauty brands. Les Secrets de Loly also did a live big chop but I missed the actual chopping.

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I didn’t attend the free workshops because in between my paid workshops, I was eating and shopping with my Mum, networking with other NHA attendees and exploring the nearby area in Paris’ 10th Arrondissement including Boulevard de Strasbourg also known as “Black Paris” but I (affectionately) nicknamed the area “Black Sister’s Street” because of the way most of the female workers in the Salons were dressed and after the novel “On Black Sister’s Street “by Chika Unigwe-  it is an excellent novel and I highly recommend it. *

I digress please forgive me… All in all I did enjoy NHA Paris but there are a few aspects that could be improved upon. I would attend again but I would carefully think about which workshops I would attend to get the most benefit, value for money and enjoyment. I enjoyed the networking aspect of the event and will definitely be returning to Paris to build upon some of the relationships I formed last weekend and to further explore the city.

The Good, The Bad & The Beautiful

Good:

One thing I thought was particularly good is that each workshop was signed for at least one session, I believe it was only in French Sign Language but it was still fantastic as I have been to countless Natural Hair events and none of them have been signed. Kudos to you for arranging that Gwladys.

The Event was the best Natural Hair Event I have been to so far, the vendors were not pushy and trying to shove products down your throat.

The Venue which I believe translates  to The Red Carpet Space – was gorgeous and large enough to accommodate every one without feeling clautrophobic or cramped.

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All of the advertised speakers were actually there on the day!

Gwladys the organiser was at the event all day and was checking if we were ok and enjoying ourselves.

The toilets were well maintained and cleaned throughout the day.

Bad:

I bought 2 tickets for all of the main workshops at 60 Euros each. What really annoyed me is that once you were in E’Space Tapis Rouge tickets were not checked again, so people who had only paid for the cheaper tickets were able to get into all of the paid workshops or people were attending workshops they had paid for but at the wrong time -subsequently there were not enough seats in each of the workshops and I ended up standing in a couple of the workshops, I asked one of the NHA representatives/translators about this and I was rudely told that “we intentionally oversold the seats so if you do not have a seat that is your own problem”       (I did ask Gwladys the organiser about this and she informed me that seats were not intentionally oversold.) Either way that was really disorganised and unfair to people who had paid full price for the same workshops that other people were getting into for free.

There was a lot of security around inside the venue and near the doors to each workshop but I don’t know what their purpose was because they certainly were not checking tickets!

The temperature in each workshop was either freezing or sweltering.

There was nowhere in the venue to sit down and just chill, to eat your snacks or whatever so many girls were sitting all over the floor and stairs.

The day was way too long, by the time it was Taren’s workshop Mum and I were so tired, it really was a very long day but at the same time there were not enough hours to see and hear everything that was going on.

Beautiful:

All of my sisters! It was fantastic to be in such a grand space with so many beautiful women and there was so much positivit in the atmosphere.

Merci beaucoup Gwladys pour une telle journée agréable et bien remplie!

Me and Gwladys the organiser of NHA Paris

Me and Gwladys the organiser of NHA Paris

Thanks for Reading!

Luv

Sian

*I am aware of the seriousness of the topics covered in the novel. I am not making light of these issues, I am referring to the visual aspect when looking at the particular street in Paris.

Ice Skating at the Tower of London

Hello My Cakers Bakers and Beauties!

I live in Central London and every Winter several Tourist Attractions and Historical Palaces erect outdoor “pop up” Ice Rinks.        I loved to ice skate as a child and every year I say –  I want to ice skate at one of the popular outdoor rinks and every year I walk past the rinks wistfully. I’m not sure why I never just book a ticket and go! Even if I went by myself I’d enjoy it.

Scale Model of Tower Bridge

Scale Model of Tower Bridge

I live roughly 5 minutes away from Tower Bridge one of the most famous bridges in the world and at the other end of Tower Bridge is the Tower of London. The Tower of London has an outdoor ice rink so last December I bought 3 tickets and forced asked my Mum and My Sister to go with me. At £13.50 each for a one hour session, it was a bit pricey but everything in Central London is pricey and I’m used to it by now *sigh*.

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I booked an evening session and I was quite impressed with the way they organised themselves, the ice rink asked everyone to come 20 mins early so that we were able to put our belongings away and swap our boots/shoes for ice skates. (Skate hire included in price of admission.

Mum, Me 'n Sis

Mum, Me ‘n Sis

I’m going to be honest with you there were too many small children skating in our session, I have nothing against small children per se but ice skating can be quite dangerous and with inexperienced adult skaters sliding and skidding around it was quite nerve -wracking, especially because the hired skates didn’t have any breaks or spikes on them.

The rink was set up against one of the walls of the castle and it was very picturesque but I was slightly disappointed that they didn’t play any music.

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someone just took a drop!

someone just took a drop!

After 30 mins of skating our feet were killing us! I mean seriously it felt like I had been at a Soca dance for 9 hours, wearing 7 inch stilettos with shards of glass inside them. Just like dancing in stilettos if you stop moving the pain only intensifies so we soldiered it out for about 15 more minutes before throwing it the towel!

Tower of London in the Background

Tower of London in the Background

We had worked up quite a hunger while skating so we headed to the nearby St Katherine’s Dock for a meal and to chat of course!

I love spending time with my family and I have really close relationships with my Mum and my Sister but since my Sister and I moved out of our Mum and Dad’s house, the three of us rarely get to go out alone. We had a really good evening out.

Lets wear Mum's Glasses!

Selfies! Lets wear Mum’s Glasses!

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We should get Sponsored by Colgate!

Just playing around...

Just playing around…

Thanks for Reading

Luv

Sian

x

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Random Post- Round The World Clipper Race!

Aye Me Hearties!

Sorry I Couldn’t resist that greeting, at the end of August I spontaneously decided to go for a walk along the Thames Path starting close to where I live and walking East along the North bank. I crossed the river at Tower Bridge and walked round St Katherine’s Dock where I saw this!

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I had not heard of the Clipper Race  until that day but I was intrigued that Jamaica had a yacht in the race! My Mother’s family are from Jamaica and I can tell you that although Jamaica is famous for many things, SAILING is not one of them!  Nevertheless I was still excited to see Jamaica represented, (however looking at the photograph of the Jamaican crew I wonder is Jamaica truly represented? Maybe I need to sign up to be part of the Jamaican Crew next year?)

It turns out that the Clipper Race is “the only race in the world where the organisers supply the fleet of 12 identical, 70-foot, stripped down racing yachts – each sponsored by a city, a region or a country – and man each with a fully-qualified skipper, employed to lead the crews safely around the globe. 

It’s where taxi drivers rub shoulders with chief executives, vicars mix with housewives, students work alongside bankers, nurses work with vets and doctors team with rugby players. It’s an experience that will change people’s lives. Yet while the crews may be amateur, no one has told the ocean that.

The sea does not distinguish between Olympians or novices and if the Southern Ocean, the Pacific or the South Atlantic decides to throw down the gauntlet, the Clipper Race crews need to be ready to face exactly the same challenges as those experienced by the professional racer.

And, when they return from the biggest challenge they have ever faced, the crews bring home countless lessons with them. The importance of teamwork and the importance of respect. Of giving more than you take. Of learning what your body is capable of. An appreciation of cultures, religions, lifestyles and attitudes that connect with communities right around the globe.

Because of its amateur status and varied crew profile, don’t for a moment consider this to be some sort of easy option. The crews have to work hard to become winners and it’s not unusual that boats might finish within minutes of each other after three weeks and 3,000 miles of ocean racing.

“TWENTY YEARS FROM NOW YOU WILL BE MORE DISAPPOINTED BY THE THINGS THAT YOU DIDN’T DO THAN BY THE ONES YOU DID DO. SO THROW OFF THE BOWLINES. SAIL AWAY FROM THE SAFE HARBOUR. CATCH THE TRADE WINDS IN YOUR SAILS. EXPLORE. DREAM. DISCOVER.” 

Sir Robin Knox-Johnston, Founder and Chairman of the Clipper Race”

(From the Clipper Race Website)

 I say Bon Voyage to all the teams particularly Jamaica, Great Britain and Invest Africa!

Thanks for reading this random post!

Luv

Sian

x

Holiday Hair – Part Two

Hello My Beauties!

(Hello to my Cakers and Bakers if your curiosity brought you here too)

So after two weeks of being in the sunny and beautiful Dom Rep, I decided to take my twists down!

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I know I’m really terrible at this protective styling malarkey.

I decided to remove my twists for a few reasons:

  1. I was getting a lot of slippage, swimming every day, rinsing and moisturising daily combined with their soft water plus the texture of my hair and the extension hair led to many twists sliding off and needing to be re-installed.
  2. I was really hot with all that extra hair. (duh!)
  3. I have heard that hairdressers in the Dominican Republic are amazing and I wanted to experience this first hand.
  4. I missed my own hair!

It took me a couple of hours to remove my twists, I untwisted while my hair was damp and used my fingers only. Since the twists were slipping out anyway it was very easy to remove them.

If you are removing any type of extensions make sure you take your time and do not rush, it will be easier to remove your extensions if your hair is damp or wet (naturally kinky curly hair) you can use water, conditioner, natural oils or a combination.

I recommend removing a small cluster of braids maybe ten or so, depending on the size of your sections then de-tangling that section using a seam free large toothed comb or your fingers and coating it in more conditioner or oil before braiding or twisting that section, this process will be easier than removing all of your braids/twists and then trying to de-tangle all of your hair at once.

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Don’t be concerned that I was swimming every day without fully washing my hair, my Uncle’s pool is filled with mountain rainwater and has a natural filtration/cleaning system, it was fantastic swimming in a pool that did not stink of Chlorine, burn my eyes and irritate my skin.

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Once all of my twists were removed, I washed and deep conditioned my hair, I brought my Kinky Girls Essentials Kit on holiday with me and it was a life saver as it was very hard to find natural hair products in shops in the area of Dom Rep we were staying in.

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Image Belongs to http://www.SheaDecandence.co.uk

The next day my Mum and I hit the streets of Sosua (North Coast Beach Town) looking for a hair dresser. I went to 3 different salons and made enquiries before I found one where I was comfortable, unfortunately many of these women were not happy to handle my natural hair and I was repeatedly offered a relaxer, for them it was shocking that I as an adult woman would walk around with my “bad hair”.

The majority of women in the Dominican Republic do have beautiful, long and healthy looking hair but 99% of the Dominican women (I saw) wear their hair straightened either by heat or chemical processing.  I won’t go into it too much in this post but generally the Dominicans feel that they are not Black and do not acknowledge that they are indeed people of African descent instead choosing to focus on their Spanish Heritage.  I found the colourist attitude of the Dominican people to be very obvious and slightly upsetting, it went so deep that I did not see any darker skinned Dominicans working inside, by that I mean phone shops, banks, supermarkets and so on. It is acceptable to wear your natural texture if you have very loose curls or waves but to display your kinks is frowned upon and very rare.

Moving on, I found a salon owned by a Jamaican man who has been living in DR for most of his adult life, I spotted a hairdresser in the window twisting the hair of a young girl the best part of it is that the young girl had hair like me!  The hair dresser was called Ana and we actually had a really interesting conversation about “race” culture hair and history.

I had my hair washed, deep conditioned, blown out , flat ironed (sorry Natural Nazis)  and cut for the equivalent of £5.00 GBP! Of course I tipped Ana well for her time, Ana was very gentle with my hair plus she was heavily pregant and there was no air conditioning in the salon.  I don’t use heat on my hair at home and even when I go to salons in UK I don’t let them use direct heat on my hair (except once per year when I have it professionally flat ironed) indirect heat is also used sparingly maybe once per or twice year.  I don’t use heat because my hair strands are already very fine and I have a lot of chemical damage from self inflicted repeated colour abuse on the ends of my hair, I’m fully aware of this and I’m in the process of transitioning out of this damage.

Here are a few photos of the process.

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I had a good 4 inches cut off which really helped to even out my hair but did not get rid of all the colour damage, I’m not big chopping again because I don’t want to and it’s not necessary although my ends are very thin I am not experiencing a lot of breakage.  I’ll be doing a series of mini chops  until my hair is all virgin again.  I do not have a photo of the finished look but I’ll tell you that it was so humid in the Salon and in DR generally that my hair started to revert IMMEDIATELY, I put it in a bun before I even left the Salon.

The next day we visited Mount Isobel De Torres and I thought it would be a nice change to wear my hair out, that was a crazy idea as you will see below:

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Riding the cable car up the mountain, that’s my Mum looking at my windswept hair!

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Replica of The Christ the Redeemer Statue in Rio.

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My hair has recovered from this traumatic experience…lol and is currently recuperating in (considerably shorter) two strand twists.

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Current state of my hair Sept 2013.

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Thanks for Reading.

Luv

Sian

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