Monday, July 11, 2016

It's A Natural Thang: A Mid-Summer's Day Dream Natural Hair Meet-Up

Saturday I attended my first natural hair meet-up!  

It was hosted in my hometown Pittsburgh, PA at AlphaLab, which is an organization that helps startup companies by offering mentor-ship, capital, and space.  
The company that organized the meet-up was Pittsburgh's premier natural hair meetup organization and hair event organizer, It's A Natural Thang, which was founded by Tamiah Bridgett.  
Currently, AlphaLab is assisting Tamiah Bridgett on her revolutionary hair care tool, Diversame, which she developed to assist naturalistas with their curly hair textures. More information on Diversame can be found here.   

Tamiah Bridgett

      The meet-up was a great experience! I loved the vendors that were there. They were all black and had unique wares for sale. My favorite was Sweet T's Beauty, which is a homemade natural body and hair product store. There is no storefront but you can order online here and follow her here on Facebook  . You can find the owner at local events throughout Pittsburgh. In fact, the first time I ordered from her was from a local August Wilson event that celebrated his birthday outside of his home. I bought her leave-in spray (Blueberry Hair Mist) that contained blueberry extract as one of the main ingredients. Blueberries are great for hair and it helps to promote hair growth. The fact that she incorporates blueberries in most of her products is a good sign. I love this leave-in! 
    Anyway, at the meet-up I bought her shampoo, conditioner, and she threw in a body scrub for free. Look out for a review from me--she promised to supply me her whole line for free if I was to create a video review. This will be my first video and the first time I'll be given hair products in exchange for a review so I am excited. I am especially excited to try out her Blueberry Hair Pudding which I hope will rival Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie because I'd love to give my money to small local black businesses instead of big companies.  

         So--back to the event. It lasted from 11:30 to 3:30. Early birds like myself were gifted free swag, such as a sample of Curlific Texture treatment and a full size bottle of Curlific Textured Hair Wash (the event was sponsored by Aphogee!). More free items also included a belt and a purse filled with a small memo pad, a sample pack of both Aunt Jackie's Quench! Moisture Intensive Leave-In Conditioner and Aunt Jackie's Don't Shrink Flaxseed Elongating Curling Gel.  Local vendor Good Body Stuff's body butter sample was included as well as a pack of Doublemint gum.  
Now to the itinerary. 

     In addition to the great vendors, the free swag  (there were giveaways toward the end of the event as well), there were presentations that were highly informative.  
 My favorite was one titled “History of Black Hair”: 

  •  I learned about the braid styles in Ancient Egypt, which the presenter referred to as "Kmt." Apparently, farmers were held to a high regard because they fed people and those most popular was given intricate braid styles to show off their status. Intricate cornrows was a signal of status in Kmt, but when the Africans were stolen and taken to America they were unable to keep up the styles. 
  •  The African women hid their hair with scarves in order to keep their hair free from debris and because it was a law to prevent the white men from being interested in the black women. However, the women wore the scarves as beautifully as the braids had been worn and the law's objective failed.  
  • My favorite part of the presentation was how she ended it in Pittsburgh. Apparently, African American female entrepreneurs started hair schools in Pittsburgh's own Hill District.
  •  It was an informative presentation and I loved how she was able to include the history of black hair of my own hometown (I am a big history buff). 

 There was also a Natural Hair Q & A session, where Tamiah Bridgett answered hair-related questions such as those regarding breakage, homemade deep conditioners, and preserving grey hair color. What interested me about her talk of homemade deep conditioners was that she have not found a way to create a helpful handmade protein conditioner. Apparently, the well-known egg-and-mayo protein treatment is not effective. These proteins have too big molecules that are unable to penetrate the hair shaft. Protein must be hydrolyzed to effectively enter the hair shaft. Therefore, homemade protein treatments are not actually beneficial to the hair.   

   One of the presentations was about Tamiah Bridgett's invention, and another was where a renown black dermatologist--Dr. Melanye Macline--was able to answer questions dealing with skin issues via Skype.   

The emphasis of the event was the importance of funding black-owned businesses in order to build the black community. Although the black hair care industry is a half a trillion dollar industry, most of this money is not in black hands. Tamiah emphasized the importance of changing this reality. We have to find black-owned alternatives of companies such as gas stations and ice cream places in order to fund our community.  

For more information on Tamiah Bridgett's organization It's A Natural Thang (IANT), you can check out the Facebook here and IANT's website here.   

Have you attended a natural hair meet-up before? How was your experience? If not, are you interested in attending one? 

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