I had the pleasure of attending the Curly Treats Festival (previously called Natural Hair week) for the first time, which was held at ILEC Conference Centre in London. The festival is all about celebrating black hair, beauty, fashion and wellness and gives an opportunity for brands to showcase their products targeted at black consumers and a space for conversation about issues affecting black people, especially in the UK.
Most interesting for me, was seeing young entrepreneurs showcasing their ideas. I had a chat with the two lovely ladies below, Aina McCallum, a make-up artist and Zadi Lewis a personal stylist, who laughed the Beautiful Unicorn subscription box containing hair, beauty and fashion pieces. The difference between their box and what is already out there is they will be cycling between products, so you don’t get hair products every month. There’s only so much shampoo us black girls can go through, let’s be honest so getting hair products one month, then beauty products another month and so on, makes a lot of sense.
It’s almost always assumed that these events are exclusively for women, but from what I gathered, it really is for everyone. I saw a lot of men there, to my own surprise, and many products on show, highlighting the importance of male grooming as a business, which is an even bigger thing now since the whole ‘beard gang’ movement. My Luxe Beauty, an online platform for black hair and skincare products were present, showcasing men’s grooming products by Scotch Porter and Brickell, which offer skincare and beard care products. They also stock a lot of products which are harder to find here in the UK, like The Mane Choice. Shea Island, a brand of natural products consisting of soaps, butters and oils, founded by James Taggert also shows how women aren’t the only ones making their mark on the black hair/skincare industry.
Apart from skincare and haircare, there were also kids toys, jewellery and African print clothing available for purchase, as well as afro-textured hair extensions. The dolls really caught my eye because growing up, I never had a black doll, never mind one with Afro hair. The Sibahle Collection by Caroline Hlahla and Khulile Vilakazi-Ofosu aims to empower young black girls to embrace their natural hair and skin colour, which is so important, especially for those growing up in a country where they form the minority, and where representation is an issue.
While at the event, I bought a few As I Am products (pictured below) which I will be trying out and reviewing in the next few weeks or months. Most of the products sold, by most of the businesses, were reasonably priced, some were discounted for the day, which loads of multi-buy deals too and such an event is a good time to explore new brands and stock up on old favourites and I really wished I had more to spend!
The discussions I managed to catch were very reminiscent of woke Twitter topics for example, the black man’s response to the natural hair movement and even more serious ones about how black people are consumers of black skincare and haircare products, yet such a small percentage of us are the business owners behind these brands.
For next year, I would love to see this event happen outdoors, like Curlfest 2017, which was held in Brooklyn, USA, but with the way British summers are set up, this might be tricky for the organisers to plan. For more details please see the Curly Treats website here.