Naturally Fabulous - OMG!
*Warning: Lengthy Post*
Introduction:Why the need for an intro? Because I felt I should put this event in context and let you know I've been waiting for this event for 10 months!! ... 10 months ago (January), I cut out my last weave, went natural and began this blog to help me document it.
Initially I was frustrated at what I thought was a lack of UK Naturals or a UK natural scene. However one random search on Google lead me to The Natural Lounge Blog by Angel Smith. I remember how excited I was that night before bed telling my boyfriend that finally I'd found someone who also felt that the UK needed more info on natural hair.
There was good and bad news about my discovery... The Good News: I stood corrected - there was and is a UK Naturals scene and to prove it, Angel had organised a meet-up! ....The Bad News - I was aproximately 3 months late and had missed it!
Holding on to the promise of another Natural Lounge meet-up I kept an eye on the blog, and last Saturday when the Second Annual Natural Lounge Event - Naturally Fabulous, finally took place, I wasnt disappointed.
(**N.B You can see More photos of the event on the Crystal Afro Facebook Page**)
The day began with a Pre-NatFab Brunch where I met with UK Naturals, Gina (@naturalbelle) Ketisha (@SugarKenesis). After a quick bite and some free breakfast pastries from the kind man in Starbucks, we did the sensible thing and followed the other groups of black women with natural hair who happened to be walking through St Paul's that afternoon; which sure enough right to where we needed to be: The Cape Bar for Naturally Fabulous!
SexSisters and The City:
|Queuing up outside Cape Bar|
Freebies, Prizes and People:Regular tickets were £10 in advance or £16 for VIP which entitled entrants to a free VIP good bag and I have to say it was well worth the extra 6 quid! When I got home and finally checked the contents I was VERY pleasantly surprised.
|The Goody Bag!!|
See all the photos on the Crystal Afro Facebook Page
As we went in we were also handed a free raffle ticket and competition entry form, to be in with a chance of winning one of the many prize giveaways later that day.
See complete photo album on Crystal Afro Facebook Page
As soon as we arrived I began quickly bumping into other familiar natural ladies. It was so good to see so many faces again as well as meet so many new people. It was like a reunion of sorts.
|See the complete photo album here: Crystal Afro Facebook Page|
I also met up with Jade Mitchell, the Winner of my "Win A VIP Ticket" competition, the first competition I've ever held on my blog. I gave Jade her VIP goody bag and she said she was really excited about winning as she had only been natural 6 months and was really excited about learning more.
|United KinKdom VIP Ticket Winner: Jade|
See the complete photo album: Crystal Afro Facebook Page
Vendors:The venue began filling up pretty quickly. As I walked around the two-floor venue there were various vendors selling hair products but also some selling clothing, accessories books etc. It was brilliant to see so many British Brands and although many are available online I look forward to seeing them in the shops in the future (fingers crossed).
Product Swap:There was also an area dedicated to the Product Swap, where I handed in some hair products, and accessories and a black top I've never worn. Im sure they've gone to a better home. In exchange I got a token for each item that I could trade in exchange for other items in the product swap throughout the day.
Angel, Special Guests and Entertainment:
|Angel Smith: Event Organiser and Host|
The Event's Organiser Angel Smith, looked lovely in red with a beautifully styled up-do by Bespoke Hair. She welcomed us all to the event and introduced us to the guests of honour the NapturalRoots team who had flown all the way from Atlanta USA to be with us. Angel then began giving away some prizes to get us"warmed up" for the day, but I could not believe my ears when she called me out as the winner of her Blogger Competition! (See post: I WON! )
Angel & Special Guest Le Anne Dolce - Founder of Naptural Roots
If you've read my previous post you know I was totally in shock, lol. This was followed by a prize for the newest natural in the building and also one for who ever had been natural the longest, as well as the natural who'd traveled from farthest to attend the event.
|Left: My suprised face / Right: Newest Natural wins a prize|
(see complete photo album on: Crystal Afro Facebook Page)
It was then time for poetry by Hunni M Gray & G.R.E.Ed.S, then music and more mingling. One vendor wanted the the twitter-trio, Belle, Sugar and myself, to sign his cap, lol. Later there were more giveaways in the raffles. This time Gina (naturalbelle) won a prize.
(At this point myself and Gina were beginning to feel sorry for Ketisha, who's heart was REALLY set on a Huetiful Hair Steamer after failing to win one at the Car 4 Your Hair Event earlier in the year.)
|Gina aka Naturalbelle Wins a raffle prize|
There were so many AMAZING Styles around all day, and it was great to see Stacey TheNaprika, Belinda Raji and Shereen Corbin all modelling in the Fashion Show. The girls were among a few others who were selected by Naptural Roots to be models in the show and also model for the their London Belles Photoshoot.
|Beautiful Styles, Beautiful People|
(see all the photos here: Crystal Afro Facebook Page )
The models had their hair styled by Bespoke Hair, who must have been REAL busy all day, because all the styles looked EXCELLENT.
|Bespoke Hair Styling (see the complete album here|
Unfortunately my camera let me down at the cruetial point of the fashion show, but it was still great to watch the ladies strutting their stuff to Beyonce - Who Run The World - Girls!
The photos below are by Naturalbelle of Hairspiration blog
During the day I purchased a little sample package by MMM Hair but I got a discount because she'd run out of one of the sample products by the time I came back to her stand.
I also meant to purchase some more Root 2 Tip products but again didn't get around to it, and I missed out on Naturally Nubian selling Kinky Curly Knot Today! - I have to say, that almost made cry!
In the Product Swap I missed out on the Bee Mine product I'd glimpsed earlier, but I did manage to get a top-up of my favourite Aloe Vera Conditioner for co-washes. So overall I was satisfied.
(Note-to-self: Gotta get in there quick!)
|My MMM Hair Products... cant wait to try them|
I'd love to know what people thought of the product swaps as it could be a good idea to arrange some pop-up Product Swaps in the future? Any excuse for a meet-up is a good one.
And Theres More...
There were even more giveaways before the end of the day - never let it be said that Angel Smith aint a generous woman!
The prizes were great, I definitely should have bought another few raffle tickets. Besides the book The Science Of Black Hair Care, I really would have loved to win one of the mosaics by Mosaic Artist Dionne Ible, who's work was also on show at the AACDD Festival (find out more here:Afro's in Art) and who was also present at the event.
My personal highlight of the day was when Ketisha's name got called out as the very last prize winner, and would you believe she actually won the Huetiful!!! Gina and I couldn't stop screaming! So happy for her.
|Ketisha aka SugarKenesis' dream comes true!|
|I would've love to win one of those mosaics - Beautiful!|
Before the end of the day there was music, more photos, some dancing, eating, drinking, more mingling and generally fun times. The relaxed and positive atmosphere continued into the evening when Sugar, Belle and I ordered a some food from the bar and settled into girl-talk about, Blogs, Men and of course Natural hair. We congratulated Angel before being amongst the last to leave.
|@Naturalbelle, @SugarKenesis and me @CrystalAfro|
A Twitter Trio with drinks and prizes
|#Teamnatural UK have left the building!|
(See all the photos on: Crystal Afro Facebook Page )
In The End:Naturally Fabulous was a terrific success and had a turnout of over 300 attendees. Going through the pictures it reminded me of the Afro Hair & Beauty Show (Click here for my review: AH&B Show '11), or rather all the things I felt the Afro Hair & Beauty show should have been. You could describe Naturally Fabulous as somewhere between a massive meet-up and a mini expo; either way, looking back on the event there are so many reasons why I value its importance.
I strongly believe in the significance of being seen and I know I repeat this quote a lot but its because it holds so much truth:
"What does the Black spectator identify with when [her] mirror image is absent or present only as other?" (K.Mercer)
Being able to identify with ourselves as beautiful is essential, but in our current society the true image of women generally, but particularly Black women, is often a novelty rather than a normality. I cannot underestimate the value of an event such as this, where women with whom I can identify are in the majority insteaded of a minority, where entire product ranges have women like me in mind, instead of as an after thought, and where hair like mine, Afro hair, is not only seen but is Celebrated as beautiful.
To everyone involved in making Naturally Fabulous a success, a massive WELL DONE and CONGRATULATIONS you achieved it, and in particular to Angel Smith - I'm sure everyone who attended on Saturday would agree with me when I say, Congratulations on what you achieved in putting on such a brilliant event to the benefit of so many women, I'm honoured to know someone who's started something Great!
(**Check Out the Crystal Afro Facebook Page for all my pics from Naturally Fabulous**)
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