BIRMINGHAM, Alabama—The 3rd Annual Natural Hair and Health Expo brought a day full of models, classes and curls to the BJCC in downtown Birmingham.
The expo, which ran from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in the East Exhibition Hall, brought hairstylists, hair and health classes and over 50 vendors.
Janell Stephens of Camille Rose Naturals brought her products from Georgia to the expo. For her, she says, setting up shop at events like the expo give her a chance to educate women about her products and the process of going natural. This is her second time at the event.
“The people of Birmingham needed a wealth of information, they welcomed it when I did my first expo,” she said. “They loved the products.”
Attendees Karri Bentley and Gina Grayson said they were excited to see the vendors and test some of the hair products.
“It’s really nice to be able to talk to the vendors and the people who make these products,” Bentley said.
Grayson said the event was a different kind event for the city.
“It’s great exposure for Birmingham,” she said. “People act like there’s nothing going on here, but there’s stuff to do. You just have to come to it.”
Jeffery Simmons of Visions Beauty and event organizer said they decided to change the venue of the event and add celebrity guests to better accommodate attendees, based on suggestions from last year’s crowd.
“I wanted to make sure that everybody who walked through these doors came back or left with the same type of feeling that it was worth their $20”
He estimated that between 4,500 and 5,500 attended.
The main stage was also host to panels, including “Curls and Conversation” hosted by HOT 107.7’s Tasha Simone. Bloggers Mahogany Curls, Evelyn Ngugi and DeshonicaKerrie discussed hair tips and encouragement on the natural hair journey.
“Blood, Sweat and Heels” cast member and “A Belle in Brooklyn” author Demetria Lucas, Lamman Rucker of “Meet The Browns” and Tanya Wright of “True Blood” also participated in a panel concerning how natural hair affects romantic relationships.
For Lucas, the expo was about spreading the message of enjoying life.
“You can do anything if you put your mind to it, if that’s growing out your hair, if that’s finding a guy who loves it,” she said. “My core message is always about what makes you happy and what makes you feel good.”
She said that that it’s important for women, especially black women to congregate and celebrate themselves.
“Black women get so many negative stereotypes thrown at them in the media,” she said. “Being around women like this affirms your beauty. Your beauty is celebrated.”
Valerie Simmons of Visions Beauty said the company is already planning for the next expo.
“When the doors close at 6 p.m., our strategy team will start planning for next year.”