Thursday, February 16, 2012

Embrace Your Roots: Houston Community College SE

em·brace (m-brs):  2. to take or receive gladly or eagerly; accept willingly.
You never know why people are placed into your life.  No matter how brief or how long the interaction is between someone you meet, there is often a larger plan in the making.  This is certainly the case for me when I met my fellow braiding school classmate Tawanda Alexander.  We met during a 3 day intensive hair braiding course to get our Texas state braiding license.  She and I as well as 4 other women bonded, as if we'd known one another for years.  I hadn't spoken to Tawanda since a few weeks after our class last August.  A few weeks ago she reached out and invited me to come share my knowledge of natural hair care and speak as a panelist at Houston Community College's Embrace Your Roots event in honor of Black History Month.  I was stoked and jumped at the opportunity.  There was no way I could ever have passed up the chance to do what I love doing anyway which is talking about natural hair.  My focus was to speak on product knowledge and hair styling options.

I was one of 2 panelists for the events, the other panelist being Michelle Lewis, Producer of her documentary called New Growth: The Natural Progression which was released in 2006.   The film was shot in Dallas, Austin and Houston. The film was picked up by BETJ/ Black Stories Series which ran on the cable station for one year. 

I wore my hair in large twists I'd done the night before on dry hair.  Since I wasn't sure if there would be any models for me to demonstrate basic styling on I figured I demo my own hair.  I used Shea Moisture Curl Enhancing Smoothie.

The Venue

 After Michelle gave shared her "hairstory" with us, it was my turn.  I was nervous at first but once I got to talking and watched how attentive the audience was I was quickly at ease.  The energy in the room as very warm and welcoming.

I briefly shared with the guests my "hairstory" as well sharing the events that lead me to embrace my kinky curls.  Everyone in the audience was so attentive which helped to put me at ease.  I felt they were really interested in learning more about what I had to share. It felt great.

I brought several products along with me.  I wanted to appeal to those who had just began their healthy hair journey as well as the more seasoned Naturalistas in attendance.  I touched on oils, butters, which are best and why, the benefits of using oils and how to custom an oil blend to address each individuals hair needs. I spoke on proper hair handling techniques, detangling from ends to roots on wet hair only using a large toothed comb which I also brought with me.  I stressed the importance of using water and water based moisturizers and then sealing in the moisture using oil or butter.  Michelle also spoke on her hair care regimen and the abundance of styling options shes had since going natural 13 years ago.  She added that apple cider vinegar rinses are a big part of her hair care regimen to end dry scalp and itching.

The crowd grew...

I also touched briefly on the benefits of Ayurveda for hair.  I brought along a box of amla powder and a bag of Henna. After discussing Ayurveda, Michelle and I opened the forum to questions...and boy were there plenty! I loved how the attendees were so involved.

One young lady asked Michelle to take her Sister locks down so the audience could see them...

Her hair was absolutely beautiful, thick, and long.

Next it was my turn...

 Once my twist were unravelled, it was time to do a demonstration on one of the facilitators named Yolanda who had recently cut her hair short.  All she did was wash it and allow her hair to dry without any product in it.  I was glad that way I was able to demonstrate on the positive effect water has on kinky curly hair.

Since Yolanda opts for the wash n' go look, I used DevaCurl on her pencil sized curls.  Her hair was gorgeous...I wished my son had gotten a close up shot on those curls.

We took more questions from the audience which lasted a good 45 minutes and even continued on after the closing.

...and the crowd grew some more...Even the men in attendance had questions and input on how they felt about women embracing their natural hair.

At closing Michelle and I were given Certificate of Recognition plaques for presenting by Tawanda.  I was surprised and so thankful she'd given them to us to participating.

Lunch was then served, catered by Jason's Deli.  Tawanda took into consideration I am vegetarian and hooked me up with a huge veggie filled salad.

While everyone ate, Michelle and I continued answering questions from guests who attended.  I gave out my business cards, blog address and, Facebook page while answering questions from both men and women of all ethnic backgrounds. I was honored to have so many women mention they would actually be coming to Arlington to see me for an appointment.  I look forward to it too.

I met some beautiful Sisters...I was honored to be there.

Michelle asked me to style her Sister locks back into a neat bun came out so cute and she said she loved it.  Unfortunately I my son didn't get a picture of the final look...but it was really cute.

Before leaving those still there who wanted to be included came up to take a group photo with Michelle and I.

Special thanks to my son James for helping with the photography.  He was a huge support and even got several compliments on how beautiful his hair was too. I really enjoyed meeting new people and talking about healthy hair care.