Expectations of more natural hair stalls, demonstrations, and speakers at the Afro Hair and Beauty show’s 30th anniversary left some afro wearing Afro Caribbeans disappointed in the event.
The exhibition, hosted at the Business Design Centre in Islington, London on the 29th and 30th of May featured 81 stands catered specifically at Afro Caribbean hair, and fashion with the aim to facilitate exhibitors interested in promoting products and services to the niche market of the African Diaspora.
YouTube afro hair guru, TheNaprika said: “Aside from being relaxed and having weaves our hair grows out of our scalp as an afro. Even though you do have relaxers and weaves and stuff you still need to take care of your hair. I don’t think it was geared for that. I personally found it was geared for relaxing your hair, how to get length, and how to weave your hair. There wasn’t anything that was a “back to roots” kind of thing, so that was a bit disappointing.”
One of the organizers of the yearly exhibition, Ms Grace Kelly said: “I think it is fair to expect more natural hair products because there is a rise of people wearing their hair natural and wanting natural hair products. We had quite a number of companies selling natural hair products there.”
“We had Root2Tip, Beautiful Roots, and T444Z. I had a gentleman there that develops his own soaps and creams using natural Shea butter from Ghana, there was Mixed Chicks there, and a number of JF Labs hair products can be used on natural hair, Organic Root Stimulator’s products can be used on natural hair.”
“There were a number of products that were there, they just needed to look for them. Unfortunately I don’t think people really spent the time in order to look for them. Those stands tended to be quite busy, so if they were looking for them and they walked past them without stopping they probably would’ve missed them.”
CEO and Co-Founder of Afrocenchix, Joycelyn said: “I haven’t been to the show in about three years because I heard that wasn’t good. I saw that there were other companies doing similar things to Afrocenchix and was happy to see so much variety – as when I first went natural I found it difficult to find products. I met a lady and she told me she comes to the Afro and Beauty Show because where she lives she doesn’t get a lot of the products that she needs, so she stocks up for the year. I guess it’s also good for people who want to stock up on their products.
It is likely that the smaller afro hair companies that unhappy attendees might have been expecting could not afford a place in the exhibition, the biggest exhibition of its kind in Europe.
Ms Kelly said: “What we’ve found now is that there are a lot of micro businesses developing their own creams for natural hair. They tend to be small companies as opposed to corporate. This hair industry is market driven let’s not forget that. The reason why there are a number of hair companies on the market is because there is a demand. If you take a sample of people on the street and you pick out 20 women, you’ll find that 15 of them will have their hair in a weave. That is why there are a number of weave and hair companies at the exhibition. If you weave your hair you tend to relax your part of your hair also so there is a necessity for relaxed hair as well. But there is a definite surge and a trend towards natural hair and it’s only a matter of time before the multi-nationals discover that and develop products in order to meet that demand.”