The Hair Culture of Lagos

Years ago, I always imagined Africa as the home of all things natural hair, the place where I could go find those magical juices, berries and maybe some sort of indigenous nut oil that would allow my hair to thrive. When we think about Africa as the place to “go back to our roots”, it would only make logical sense that the root of the natural hair movement is also found on the continent. It wasn’t until I saw this photo oh-so-long-ago that made me start to think I had it all wrong:

Young women performing in Umhlanga (The Reed Dance), an eight-day event in which thousands of unmarried and childless Swazi women travel from all over the country to perform for the royal family. (Photo by Elton Anderson)

Young women performing in Umhlanga (The Reed Dance), an eight-day event in which thousands of unmarried and childless Swazi women travel from all over the country to perform for the royal family. (Photo by Elton Anderson)

As these women perform their native tribe dance, there is nary a natural curl in sight. Not a single one.

A similar observation began even before I hit the ground in Nigeria. On my plane, I observed ZERO other natural women, only relaxers, weaves and braids. Sure, beneath those weaves and braids the hair might be natural, but the inherent impression is that of a preference for straight, long hair. If the hair is worn short, it’s done so in a way that’s much more Halle Berry-pixie than Solange-TWA.

For days, this parade of weaves and relaxers continued through our adventures in Lagos. One would think that with such a cultural prominence, the hair would at least be healthy looking and well-styled. Unfortunately the opposite: I’ve never seen so many edges ripped out, broken ends and damage. Even young girls had patches missing from over applied relaxer.

We in the west set the global trends of black culture; it’s particularly hard to stomach that this is our beauty contribution to Africa. Just like we in the States had to conform to this a Eurocentric-standard of beauty, I wonder if the pressure to straighten was even stronger living under the influence of a colonial power.

Nevertheless, we were there to provide natural hair education and to empower women to wear their own hair. As a tribe of natural hair wearers rolling through Lagos, we certainly caused a stir because it was a rare sight to see.

Screen Shot 2015-05-20 at 6.55.17 AM
Continue reading

Nigerian Natural Hair Show: Recap + Gallery

After months and months of preparation, last Saturday the Nigerian Natural Hair Show went DOWN and it was so much fun!!! The Kinky Apothecary team knocked it out of the park, putting together a fabulous 8 hours of educational programming and an fantastic expo. The event took place at The Federal Palace Hotel here in Lagos, Nigeria and over 200 naturalistas came from Lagos, greater Nigeria and even other African countries to learn, shop and snap selfies–lots of selfies– in their fantastic natural styles.

The day started off with a panel discussion facilitated by Nibi Lawson, Founder + CEO of Kinky Apothecary. I was honored to sit on-stage alongside an inspirational (not to mention GLOBAL!) group of women including Felicia Leatherwood (Celebrity Stylist), Obia Ewah (Obia’s Naturals), Ijeoma Eboh (KlassyKinkys), Ngozi Opara (Heat Free Hair) and Wunmi Akinlagun (Woman in the Jungle).

Screen Shot 2015-05-18 at 11.27.25 AM

I hopped on stage to present my workshop “The Top 10 Natural Hair Mistakes I’ve Made (and how to avoid them yourself)”. See, as a blogger, you’re often only posting the finished, polished and sometimes even photoshopped final photos of the natural hair journey. The truth is that going natural is HARD and even we bloggers still make mistakes, especially when starting off. I wanted to open up and give an authentic perspective on the struggle that is so real, but stand up as an example that with a bit of patience and perseverance—in the end it all turns out a-okay.

Towards the end of my talk, I also explained that one of my main goals with my blog is to meet and get the stories of naturals around the world, so I encouraged everyone to come find me and we could snap a shot with my selfie-stick. And BOY did these Nigerian Naturals sure love taking those selfies! I think I’ll write some sort of new African proverb that starts “If you give a woman a selfie stick, she’ll look as fire as the African sun.” Something like that… I’ll work out the copy soon, but for realz, people love the ‘Stick. It brought out a lot of smiles and laughs.

The rest of the day, all the other speakers hit the stage and I chatted with the local naturals, asking questions, helping them shop for products, and doing a little shopping myself (hey-o!)–I can’t leave these Ankara fabrics alone while I’m here….

Huge shout out to Nibi and team for pulling off such a fantastic event. Education is the MOST important part of the natural hair movement and she is such an inspirational example of drive and passion for providing that education to the women of Africa.

Now, without further ado, my full gallery of images:

Back to Africa: The Nigerian Natural Hair Show

Early on in my days of blogging, I developed an eye and an ear for the goings on in the global natural hair community. It started with stumbling across a photograph of a super dope natural hair cut taken in Swaziland and over time has allowed to travel to several international cities in the name of natural hair.

My very first international natural hair interviews was with a Nigerian naturalista named Nibi Lawson, owner of The Kinky Apothecary. I did the interview over gChat. Me waking up early in the morning to catch Nibi, right before she went to bed. I recently dug the interview back up (you can read the full transcript here), and one of the things that has always stuck with me is Nibi’s claim that in Africa, natural hair is often seen as too afrocentric:

People tend to conform to more ‘western’ ideals. I’ve had people say I’m really ‘afrocentric’ in a negative way, which is weird as well, what’s more afrocentric than actually being african, which all of us here are. But yeah, I hope I am able to change people’s misconceptions.

To me, this concept hits at the root of everything the natural hair movement is aiming for.

Nibi and I have stayed connected through the years and I’m honored to have been invited as a guest speaker at the Nigerian Natural Hair Show!!!!!

unnamed

It’s been three years since I took my first trip to Africa during which I visited Dakar in Senegal, an experience that made quite a lasting impression on me. I start my voyage to Lagos in just a few short hours (!!!!!). but couldn’t be more excited for what’s to come!

Some highlights I’m looking forward to:

  • The hair show of course! It’s going down this Saturday. I’ll be speaking on a panel (love panels) and can’t wait to check out all the exhibitors and meet the guests
  • Eating Suya, Moi moi, Catfish Pepper Soup and Pounded Yam. Naturally, I’m right on top of my culinary research game
  • Scoping the view from the top of the Intercontinental. Lagos is one of the largest cities in the world. The view is supposed to be bomb. I will be brining my selfie stick for suuuuuure
  • Visiting the barbershops of Lagos! I’m taking a couple days to visit the men’s grooming world and document the Lagos scene for BevelCode
  • FELA KUTI DANCE CLASS!!!!! Need I say more!?!?!?
  • The markets. I always love checking out the local markets
  • Sharing the experience with YOU! Stay tuned for stories and photos from the road!

Natural Tresses Event THIS WEEKEND 10•26

Who has two thumbs, lots of curls and hasn’t been to a hair event in a hot minute?

THIS GIRL

That’s why when Charmaine Marshall of Natural Tresses reached out to me to ask me to be the emcee of her event coming up this weekend, my interest was piqued. When she told me who was involved (spoiler: some of my favorite people in the natural hair world), I simply couldn’t refuse!

This Sunday October 26th, I’ll be emceeing the 2nd Annual Natural Hair and Wellness Expo in Fairfield, CA (just outside of the Bay Area). So jazzed.

2014 expo flyer

The event will be going on from 1:30-6:30pm and will feature awesome vendors and presentations including:

  • Fitness classes
  • Product swap
  • Vocalist + other musical entertainment
  • Lil Curly Girls (so excited, gonna be adorbs
  • Meet and greet with the one and only Kim Coles!!
  • I’m pretty excited to be joined on stage in the afternoon by Miss Kim, she’s a dear friend and I’m so excited that we get to do the commentary on what is sure to be a fabulous hair show by the Natural Tresses Hair Studio!

    Tickets are available ONLINE here for $14 General / $35 VIP or at the door for $20 General / $40 VIP.

    Can’t wait so see your fabulous natural selves on Sunday!!! Xx -Cass

Shop The Aisle Wrap Up

This past weekend, I had the honor of participating in Shop The Aisle. As a blogger, people are always asking what they should use and where they should get it, but it’s very difficult to make expert recommendations when you’re taking an assessment over the interwebs.

Enter: Shop The Aisle, which allowed me to actually talk to people, hear their stories and touch their hair in an effort to be able to send them home with the tools and knowledge they needed! It was really fun to be able to mix’n’match the products from sponsors including, Shea Moisture, UR Curly, Beautiful Textures, CurlMAX, Curl Care by Dr. Miracles, EDEN Bodyworks, Curls and Curls Unleashed. Attendees not only got to chat and shop with myself and Danyelle of SF Bay Area Naturals, but also went home with a goodie bags of products!

Thanks to all of you who came out and thank you to Charlette and DeAnthony of Shop The Aisle for making the trek across the country to support the Bay Area natural hair community! Here’s a few pictures from our day spent at the Walmarts of San Leandro and Oakland! If you want to be notified of future Bay Area events by NaturalSelectionBlog, enter your info into the sign up form on the right sidebar.

Crafting for a CAUSE • Sunday September 15th

I’m very excited to announce my next event coming up on Sunday September 15th— a fundraiser for local Bay Area fashion designer Erica Varize who is launching a new venture called Sew What Project Uganda. Sew What Project Uganda is an international extension of the summer camp Erica has run locally for the past seven years in which she creates a sort of “fashion design” camp for young girls and teaches them not only how to sew, but some of the entrepreneurial aspects of the industry. This summer, Erica has built an exchange with a group of girls in Uganda and her local Sew What campers and in October she plans to travel to Uganda and host Sew What abroad.

When Erica asked me to host the fundraiser for her, I immediately said YES YES YES! First of all, Erica is an extremely accomplished designer and I am always wow’ed by her styles (and have worn many myself!)But more than that, a fun lesser-known fact about me is that I LOVE to sew and think it is one of the most empowering skills a person can have. To be able to provide this educational opportunity for girls to lift themselves up is a goal that rings near and dear to my heart.

Thus

a Bay-Ganda fundraiser for Sew What Project Uganda

was born.

CFC-Final-Flyer

Here’s the scoop:

THERE SHALL BE CRAFTING: I absolutely adore all of EVarize’s fashion designs in which she incorporates beautiful African patterns. So I thought we could all make something together with some of these patterns and colors. Our craft du jour, will be a braided fabric necklace that you will be able to make and take home for yourself (or as a gift!)

THERE SHALL BE MUSIC: What’s a party without some jamz!? DJ Bella Soul will be spinning tunes and setting the mood. Lovez it!

THERE SHALL BE NATURAL HAIR GOODNESS: Our friends from Komaza Care will be joining us for the event and providing some natural hair samples for all attendees. I love them! So excited they’ll be in the house!

THERE SHALL BE SHOPPING: That’s right! We’ll have a little shopping area and if you’re interested in being a vendor, please let me know! cassidy [at] naturalselectionblog [dot] com.

Tickets are $15 in advance and $20 at the door. You can purchase them below OR visit the ticket page here. All proceeds will go to support Sew What Project Uganda. This is truly a community effort, so if you would like to be involved, please let me know and we can certainly figure something out! Can’t wait to see you soon!



Brown Paper Tickets Ticket Widget Loading…

Click Here to visit the Brown Paper Tickets event page.



Black Hair @ MoAD: Event Wrap Up + Gallery

There was a lot of anticipation for this event, especially on my end as I wanted to do something a very different from anything else I produced.

And I’m glad to say that Black Hair Throughout the Diaspora not only met, but truly exceeded my expectations!

The three stories of the glass-walled and glittering Museum of the African Diaspora were filled with hundreds of attendees from around the Bay Area, some even traveling from as far as New York for the event.

The concept of the event was to produce an artistic celebration of black hair through the lens of the diaspora. I came up with the idea to have “Living Sculptures” or models who each represented a specific location within the African Diaspora. I narrowed these locations down to six places which hold a certain significance for me in terms of my personal natural hair journey: Paris, The Congo, Sub-Saharan Africa (modern day Ethiopia), Brazil, the Caribbean and, of course, San Francisco.

In collaboration with Celebrity Stylist Felicia Leatherwood, our fashion sponsor, Bloomingdales, and make up artist, Tamra Marie Aristry, this vision was brought to life (literally):

The highlight of the evening was a panel that featured Jewels Barron, Creative Director of Shea Moisture; Felicia Leatherwood, Celebrity Stylist and Rhadamés Julian, Director of Follicle. We talked about the importance of hair when it comes to discussing black identity, the role of pop culture when it comes to discussing black identity, and the origins and future of the natural hair movement. It was truly an insightful discussion, one that was filled with themes and topics that are too often glazed over and it was good to facilitate a deeper topic on the subject.

The rest of the evening was spent checking out the MoAD exhibits including the Kinsey exhibit on black hair and adornment (if you’re in the Bay, this is a must-see!), enjoying the delicious eats from Radio Africa, laughing and smiling in the Lightworks Photobooth and grooving to the tunes of DJ DC from KMEL.

It was truly a magical event, one of my favorites I’ve ever done. Going into it I thought it might be my last, but I’ve already got the itch and idea for another in the works… :)

That said, this was truly a group effort and special thanks to the following:

•Shea Moisture for supporting the Bay Area natural hair community and the exploration of these topics.
•Bloomindales, for being such creative collaborators in making this happen (shout outs to Mariama, Cati and Jay!)
•Tamra Marie Artistry, for lending your talents and vision and a wide palette of colors!
•To the MoAD Vanguard, for giving me the platform to do this event. And in particular, Timmie Roach, my true partner in crime in making this event happen. I couldn’t have done it without you!!!!
•To my mom, for hopping on a plane at my insistence to come check out the event.
•And to our partners, Lightworks Photobooth, Moet Chandon, Radio Africa, DJ DC, Glass House Communications and the Parc55 Hotel— THANK YOU!

Now, without further ado, the full gallery from the event!

EVENT ALERT: The Global Culture of Hair with the Museum of the African Diaspora

blackhair-web

Words cannot express the excitement with which I am announcing this event!  I am honored to partner with San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora to present

 

Black Hair Throughout the Diaspora

On Friday July 12th we will be welcoming guests for a classy and cultured evening of hair and art. Drinks and documentaries. Style and swagger. And oh so much more….

Here’s the scoop….

Naturally when you go to a museum you are there to check out art, so I had to figure out how to present HAIR–something so tangible and three-dimensional–in a museum exhibit form.

Naturally, the only thing to do is to create I’m calling “LIVING SCULPTURES”, or live models who will be styled and presented as living, breathing works of art inspired by locales within the African Diaspora. Celebrity stylist Miss Felicia Leatherwood, known for creating some of the boldest and most inspired hairstyles around the world, will be creating the ‘dos while fashion sponsor Bloomingdales will be providing a gorgeous and global wardrobe for our models.

As the title sponsor of the event, Shea Moisture, leading natural hair care brand, will be on site and you’ll be able to scoop up some of their amazing products.

We will also have a hosting an insightful panel discussion, showing documentaries on hair throughout the evening, enjoying a DJ, drinks, photo booth and more! Oh and did I mention the complimentary champagne happy hour and goodie bags?

Set within the gorgeous three-story, downtown San Francisco space of MoAD, Black Hair Throughout the Diaspora promises to be one of the most inspiring celebration of the global culture of hair.

Of all of the events I have hosted, this is truly one you do not want to miss and I really hope you can make it!

Early bird tickets – $20 (through Saturday June 15)
General Admission Presale – $25
Door tickets – $30
***space is limited and it is strongly encouraged that you purchase your tickets in advance***

BUY YOUR TICKETS HERE!

I’m also doing a CALL FOR MODELS! If you or any body you know has a gorgeous head of hair, I am looking for ALL textures of hair: 3a-4z, locs, relaxers— ALL OF IT! Please send me an email with your headshot (that shows your TRUE natural texture) and measurements (dress, waist, height). MUST BE AVAILABLE FOR IN-PERSON CASTING AND ALL DAY FRIDAY JULY 12. LOCAL APPLICANTS ONLY. Thank you!

Style With Oakland: event wrap up + gallery

Celebrating the launch of its brand new Coconut Shea Line, EDEN Bodyworks made a trip to the West Coast to share the excitement with all us Bay Area beauties with its Style With EDEN event series.

Bringing together the worlds of hair and fashion, Style With EDEN featured Jackeh of HairPlay Salon and Erica Varize of popular Bay Area fashion line EVarize (whose designs you might recognize from that AWESOME piece I wore to the November EDEN Bodyworks event in Los Angeles).

Two models were styled to show of both straight and curly styles while modeling fierce EVarize designs.

I myself, well, I rocked my patterned harem pants I found while in Senegal + tube top + shrug combo topped off with a brand new haircut (and we’ll get to that more in tomorrow’s post).

7281_10100203340760312_1984669864_n

Everyone in attendance was looking delightfully chic in bright colors, patters, and ‘dos.

Special thanks to Ylorie, Renae, Sherrell and Alisa from the EDEN Bodyworks team for putting on such a wonderful event for us out here! For those of you who have not yet checked out the new EDEN Bodyworks Coconut Shea line, make sure you do! I’ve been using it for a few weeks now and absolutely LOVING IT! (Again, full review to come soon!)

And now, without further ado— the full Style with EDEN Oakland gallery!

SAVE THE DATE • Friday July 12th

Frankly, this event has been years in the making for me. It started when I was younger, when I was spending a lot of time traveling through the museums of Europe learning about “Museology” (the science of museums). Things aren’t simply placed into a museum at random, they are intentionally selected and arranged to educate, inspire and bring people together.

When I was approached about doing an event in partnership with San Francisco’s Museum of the African Diaspora (MoAD), I lept at the opportunity. Not just because it’s an amazing venue, but it presented me with an opportunity to do something “beyond the natural hair meet-up”. The gears in my head have been turning and churning for months and I’ve dreamed up a first-of-its-kind “black hair as art” exhibit inspired by the African Disapora.

I’m THRILLED—and I mean T.H.R.I.L.L.E.D.— to announce that the event is well underway and I’d like for you to please Save the Date!

SAVE THE DATE

In partnership with MoAD and our event sponsors Shea Moisture and Bloomingdales, this is going to be an event to remember! I’ll be releasing more details about what to expect along with the official invitation, but for now, please save the date and I hope to see you there!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...