Health, beauty, and HAIR. The 6th annual Naturalista Expo (formerly the Naturalista Hair Show) takes place this week in College Park, Maryland. What about the storm? It takes more than a hurricane to stop Naturalista. Their website makes that clear: “Florence will NOT stop the show. We don’t know home girl for real and she ain’t callin no shots over here.”
I had a chance to interview founder Angela Walker, who talked about the focus of the panels, displays, and black girl magic at the three-day event: Health meaning mind, body, and soul. Beauty meaning skincare, makeup and fashion. Hair meaning healthy hair, period.
How did the Expo start?
It actually started out as a natural hair show. I wanted to have a platform that allowed for women who were wearing their natural hair or contemplating with the idea to be able to find inspiration, resources, and information on taking care of their hair. Back in 2013 there were many questions about what to do with curls and where to find products so the show served as a meeting place to find answers. This is our 6th year in business, which is encouraging to know that there is a need and want for the show!
What are you most looking forward to this year ?
This year I’m looking forward to the conversation pivot! The past 5 years, the show has been all about hair , but we’re growing and glowing this year into fashion, fitness, health and beauty!! We have hands-on classes on all three subjects led by experts in these fields, and I’m excited to see how our audience will not only receive the new additions but also the experience of the expo. We decided to go with The Hotel at University of Maryland, and added subtle touches of upscale decor to give the event a more boutique and branded feel! We’re so excited!
What are the most important new trends in technology, products, and styles?
In styling, the most important trend is the discovery of protective styling as an agent to retain length. In technology, YouTube has aided the natural hair community in rapidly spreading natural hair education, that otherwise wouldn’t be readily available. This is good for both the consumer and the professional stylist. I’m a fan of black owned products being distributed to larger retail chains. This gives us the opportunity to grow our businesses and support our businesses on a regular and convenient basis, which was not able to be done in the past.
Do you have a favorite way to do your hair?
I personally like wild styles. The styles that need minimum effort and cause eyes to stare, that’s me. I’m currently rocking an untamed afro.
How important to hair culture and styling is the relationship between the stylist and the customer?
Stylists and clients feed off of one another. Clients have the ideas, while stylists have the skill to bring it to life. This skill can make it different and even better than the original style. Hair culture and styling is also a journey, and your hair stylist is someone who is joining you on this journey so the relationships are deep!
How much of hair presentation is style and how much is a personal statement about your own culture and aesthetics?
I don’t know if those can be separated. Many times personal style is a reflection of aesthetic, culture, and even politics. I feel like the hairstyle is a key component to a person’s overall look and how they’re interpreted or want to be interpreted!
There have been a number of high profile movies with striking hairdos this year, from the shaved heads of “Black Panther” to the braids of “Blindspotting” and the 70’s styles of “BlacKkKlansman.” Have they influenced contemporary style?
Because of the natural exposure that comes with films, yes they have influenced. However, I think it’s the other way around and that contemporary styles have actually influenced overall culture of today and have allowed for movies like this to come out on the big screen and to be well received.
Who are some of the big names attending the Expo?
@Naptural85, also known as Whitney. She was one of the first natural hair bloggers on YouTube. She is the only one from first crew of bloggers still doing it full time and her platform is still centered on natural hair. @iamdulo is an Instagram comedian and pseudo celebrity and I’m excited to see the vibe he brings to the event as our host! Sarunas also known as ‘Dro’ from Insecure will be a guest and host at our brunch. Shayla Marie who is a self-love advocate is leading a meditation class! This year we’re bringing in local and national favorites !
Who is your hair style icon?
Hmmm this is hard! I have so many, but i’d have to say Ladene Clark. She has extremely thick locs. The first time I saw her online she was so beautiful. Her style of dress, hair, and entire aesthetic gave you an idea of who she was before she even spoke. It was impressive!