Rebellious, outspoken, magnificent – black hair speaks for itself and there are a barrage of compliments being catapulted our way in adoration for our kinks and curls. Given the surge of women endorsing au-natural, it was only a matter of time before attention spread further than hair salons and into the media. With high-profile entertainers embracing their tresses, and bloggers internationally championing the diversity of afro-hair, there’s no time like the present to launch the UK’s first ever, Natural Hair Week.
Duo Diane Hall, author of How I Grew It Long and Vinna Best, founder of Officially Natural have fused their creative energies together for a week-long event (15 – 20 July 2013) targeting Leeds, Manchester, Nottingham, Bristol, Birmingham and London.
Natural Hair Week UK will incorporate the who’s who of the hair care and beauty industry. From leading hair and nutrition experts, stylists, brands, salon owners and bloggers, now is your chance to mingle with professional, established and emerging names in the industry. In a series of exciting sessions, exhibitions, hair demonstrations and networking receptions, if you’re not there, then seriously, where else will you be?
Speaking ahead of the event in just over four weeks time, co-founder Vinna Best is happy that her idea has finally come to life. Telling all, over a very early Saturday morning phone call, we relate on everything from having confused yo-yo hair, failed DIY recipes and how being a voluntary naturalista goes far beyond just a change of hairstyle.
This is officially the first ever Natural Hair Week UK (NHWUK). Has it been a long time coming?
I’m excited, it has been a long time coming – it’s something I believe was missing from the UK. For example myself, I’ve been natural for over four years now and I do believe that what’s happening now, it’s more than a revolution – it’s a lifestyle and I’m really grateful that there’s so many women, not just in the UK but also around the world that are not just having natural hair but embracing it and knowing that it’s beautiful as well – something that I noticed from the age of 15.
Where does the Caribbean connect with the story of NHW?
Last year, I was actually supposed to go to the Caribbean to run a natural hair event, just for the sheer fact that I was going on holiday and I wanted to do something around that as well but that didn’t happen. It was only through a short discussion with Diane and myself, who is co-founder of NHWUK, we wanted to work together so we literally had a brief conversation and just said, “Let’s do it,” and then NHWUK was born.
You’ve got your own website, Officially Natural, did that come about around the same time as when you went natural?
When I went back natural in October 2007, I noticed there were many US bloggers telling others about their journey including hairstyles, hair length checks and hair care but there were limited UK blogs. Therefore I wanted to launch a site which was unique in style rather than just another natural hair site. It was launched officially earlier this year but was three years in the making. I’ll also be launching IYOKA Boutique in July 2013 – created with the vision of creating wearable art clothes relating to natural hair and beauty that tells a story and inspires naturals through design and creativity.
For several reasons including the misconception that afro hair is difficult to manage and doesn’t grow. But since US natural hair bloggers started to openly embrace their beautiful textures, women worldwide also started posting blogs and YouTube videos around natural hair care and styling. When I went back to natural my family thought that I was crazy but rewind over four years later, my mum has now gone natural and my two younger sisters too.
The event’s taking place across six cities so are there any that you’re particularly excited about or that you feel are leading the way in terms of natural hair and beauty?
I’m looking forward to every single city! The reason why is because we speak a lot about naturalists in London and in Birmingham but we would like to engage with and find out more about naturalistas in other cities.
The aim of the event is that you want to educate, appreciate natural hair, show it off, encourage other people – why is it so important to include all of that into an event like this?
In regards to education, it’s really important because natural hair is not just about having fun with your hair, therefore we’ve experts speaking about hair nutrition, hair care and hair loss. It’s really important to recognise that it’s not so much about what you put on top of your hair because the products that you use create certain hairstyles – it’s more about what you put inside of your body and hair maintenance.
Who can we expect in attendance across the week? Are there any more names that you can drop in?
Recently Natural Hair Week UK confirmed Valley Fontaine, a BBC reporter and natural hair blogger to host the London event. Shirley McDonald, a trichologist and she will be talking about hair loss throughout the week. NoScrunchie, Kickin’ It With The Kinks, Kulchicbeauty, Natural Hair Daily, Crystal Afro and Woman in the Jungle are some of the names who will also be attending the event.
Do you feel that the natural hair revolution is here to stay or a little bit of a passing trend?
I definitely think natural hair, if you want to call it a ‘revolution,’ is here to stay and I think one very important point is not just the fact that we have natural hair but the universal celebration and encouragement.
NATURAL HAIR CONFIDENTIAL
Most outrageous DIY hair recipe you’ve heard? I can’t think of one that I’ve heard of but I can think of one that I’ve done. I didn’t properly rinse out the egg from my hair and when I blow-dried it, it scrambled!
Fail safe in-a-rush hairstyle? I like buns.
Natural hair crush? Kinky Curly Queen, she has a website called I’m Naturally Obsessed.
A style that you’d still like to try? Bantu Knot-Out.
Join the conversation on Twitter @NaturalHairWeek #NHWUK Facebook search ‘NaturalHairWeek’
Upon walking into a dimly lit room, one lined with strangers at that, your survival instincts veer you somewhere towards the warmest and most radiating smile in the room. Either that or someone visual like myself locates a couple of the more interestingly dressed in the room. Who knew the lady with the striking red lipstick and Michelle Williams pixie cut would turn out to be 17-year-old retail and media entrepreneur, Chloe Tomalin, guest speaker at the Little Miss Creative networking event.
One of the youngest retailers ever to open a store at just 16-years-old, her acute business sense developed some time before puberty selling sweets on school trips. An online boutique, teen mag and media company later, Chloe’s the CEO and founder of 31B Store, showcasing her love of aesthetic with growing multimedia talent.
Private-school educated and a mum with her own lingerie store, her story at first seemed wrapped in bubble wrap, fairies and twinkle dust but beneath the success story was horrendous bullying – she was spat at on her first day of attending state school by her own choosing – a breakdown, which lead to taking a year out during her GCSEs and a fighting spirit which made Chloe’s journey all the more powerful and insightful.
Captivated by her enthusiastic delivery of what can only be described as an organic entrepreneurial process, she imparted subtle nuggets of empowering advice for anyone who’s driven towards success, whatever their pursuits.
Chloe’s Lessons for Success:
Lesson 1: It’s who you know.
Doors are almost always opened by someone that you’re already connected with. Take the time to nurture those relationships as it makes life so much easier. Network and put yourself out there but not too much that people either a) get bored or b) write you off as being pushy.
Lesson 2: “You don’t need money to be successful.”
When there’s a will there’s a way. Chloe started her first official business with a £100 stash of pocket money and while studying media at college full-time, transports her office to the open access area and borrows costly equipment. Don’t be too proud for second-hand.
Lesson 3: Self-belief is everything.
Refusals from high-street banks for a loan and threats of a bomb attack to her store, still didn’t deter this determined young lady from her ambitions. You will have doubters and ‘haters’ as much as I dislike that word, so get used to it and make it happen regardless.
Lesson 4: “It takes passion, persistence and patience.”
Nothing happens overnight. Chloe, by her own admittance, has only just developed a social life after been a recluse in her office for two-years working up to 50-hours-a-week. Be prepared for good days and bad days but it will all pay off in the end.
Lesson 5: “If you don’t, you won’t.”
You could be out there living someone else’s dream for them or creating a custom-made, fabulous one of your own but if you never act, it will never happen. Don’t say you’re going to do it, just do it. Nike.
For her latest project, I’m sorry what did you say? – tipped to be the next ASOS, click here.
Check out 31B store for individual and alternative fashion.
If anyone were to ask me to recall one of the most vivid memories of growing up, and where the creative energy flowed from in my family, I’d look up into the air and as if it were yesterday, paint the picture of me standing in front of my mother’s industrial sewing machine – trousers off, legs hip-width apart and arms hovering away from my waist as she pinned me into what was going to be my new school pinafore, pleated skirt, and whatever else she decided to pin me into. “Stand still,” “Turn around,” when I stepped into the sewing zone I became nothing but a little mannequin and here it was purely business. No time for fidgeting, moaning or groaning unless you wanted one of those awkwardly placed pins to prick you somewhere unpleasant.
The reverberating hum when her soles manoeuvred the foot-pedal would lullaby me to sleep if my mum was still up late working on a garment. Mingled into the droning would be the odd slam of her machine draw as she fiddled for another pair of scissors or that random piece of denim that she still uses to test the tension of the stitch. There’s not a patch left on the thing but what can I say? My mum was a fabulous dressmaker, she has wardrobes full of outfits that she crafted so while the sewing machine hasn’t left its cherished sun-lit spot in our front room, as tribute to my dear mum, it’s only right that I’m able to do more than run a stitch down two seams.
Cue our mother-daughter trip to the fabric shop a few weeks ago and my return this afternoon to pick up, what I learnt at the till was, viscose. The print instantly caught my eye as I perused up and down the eclectic walls, apparently it looks Tibetan but having only left the UK to holiday in the West Indies, I have no idea about that cultural reference to Asia, I’m afraid. The project is a simple high-waist swing skirt, mini of course, and a tunic top with slight curve at the side seam – that was also added by the same designer friend who made the Tibet comment – so what do we think? Bare in mind I only bought two metres of this, are there other styles that will do it more justice? Any sewing tips for an enthusiastic beginner? We love the print, yes? No?