What I Learned at A Natural Affair Salon #TheMeetup
I remember the first time I ever got a relaxer. I had begged my mother for a relaxer to look more like a teenager for years. I always got a no. I don’t know whether it was because my mother had an obsession with my butt length hair and God forbid I loose a quarter of an inch of it to the creamy crack. Or, if she foresaw the damaging and relentless effect it would have on the beautiful crown I was blessed with. I knew then at 14 I wasn’t my hair. All I knew is that I didn’t want to sit between my mothers leg again and get hit with the comb. I didn’t want to sweat profusely as I saw the hot comb slowly approaching my edges. I wanted so badly to have swinging hair that didn’t swell in the rain like a Chia Pet.
But as many of us Black women know, we should have listened to our mothers. After having a short lived relaxed life, thinner and damaged hair, I transitioned back to my natural hair at 19. In 2000, no one I knew had natural hair. There were no blogs, YouTube tutorials, natural hair salons, or even products that taught me how to embrace my hair, let alone style it. Thankfully, there is a huge community and a billion dollar beauty industry catered to black women with gorgeous natural hair.
Meetups for Black women have become more popular because they nurture real life interactions and dialogues, where attendees can learn from and with each other. This past weekend, I got my first taste of the natural hair sisterhood while attending Memphis’s first natural hair salon, A Natural Affair’s, event The Meetup. Since it was my first time attending this type of event, I had only one expectation: that it would be informative. And I was right.
Upon arriving at A Natural Affair Hair salon, I made sure to find the owner and trailblazer in the natural hair community in Memphis, Mrs. Takeisha Berry-Brooks. In what seems to be a short amount of time, Takeisha has been a vital leader and pioneer in the natural hair and beauty industry locally and regionally hosting Naturals in the City. Naturals in the City is a hair and wellness expo that offers the opportunity for professionals and consumers to participate in workshops, view natural hair care techniques and see products/tools the professionals use.
It was so important for me to show her my gratitude for being who she is for many of us natural women in the city, hosting us all and allowing us the opportunity to gather and learn.
As I made my way around the room, giving out hugs and kisses to so many gorgeous women, I felt the mood of the Meetup. The mood became lighthearted, intimate, and warm. Vendors greeted us as if we were family and attendees strolled around to each other for selfies with each other and the creative photo backdrop. It felt very much like your friend girls all gathered together to laugh and learn. There were a important thing I learned.
THERE IS ALWAYS SOMETHING TO LEARN
One of the best things about this meetup was having the presence of natural hair stylists and educators to offer advice and knowledge about our hair. A Natural Affair has a diverse team of stylists that has the experience of working with various textures and styles. Black women are magical in that we are all so different yet the same. The textures of our hair and lengths are different and style preferences vary from woman to woman. Yet, what is the same is that, we care about our hair and the health of it. We have fully embraced our natural hair if with challenges and frustration at times.
We learned to approach our hair with the importance of care and growth before anything else. Tamika Turner, owner of Tennessee’s first natural hair school, was a gem. Casually and in a very sisterly tone broke down natural hair from an education angle. She opened our eyes to new regimens and better product choices that is better suited for the individual needs of our hair.
For instance, I’ve used countless butters, but learned after a quick conversation that I should be using a lightweight cream with more of a gel base instead because of my curl pattern. I was really eager to learn about caring for Amira’s hair since she loves her natural hair. I learned that some of what my mother has taught me isn’t true. As little black girls our mothers oiled our scalp. They parted it in little sections like the Red Sea and rubbed globs of oil through our scalp. According to many of the natural hair stylists, oil the scalp clogs the pores and prevents hair growth.
The owners of Gift Wraps were present to offer one on one instruction on tying head wraps. GEMS!! I have always loved how other women looked in head wraps and felt I could never wear one. I never knew how to tie them and they not slip off my head lol. Thankfully, Kenya and Rochelle suggested little hacks like stuffing the head wraps with socks to get structure and even protective styles like wigs to cover up days of setting in two strand twists under the wraps.
This is the ultimate benefit to attending a meetup is the being among other women and learning about yourself and how to be more expressive and true to your self. The Black hair community has so much to offer especially in Memphis and now that I’ve experienced it on this scale, I know I’ve barely scratched the surface in my journey of beauty secrets for myself and to share with my daughter.
HAVE YOU EVER ATTENDED A NATURAL HAIR MEETUP? HOW DID YOU LIKE IT?