Happy New Year and a belated Merry Christmas everyone!
The inaugural Cape Town Natural Hair Fest has come and gone and today I’m going to overload you with photos of the event. 18 December 2016 is certainly a day that I’ll always remember as the day that our “baby” came to life. For months the rest of the organising team and I worked hard to bring Cape Town an event the likes of which they had never seen before: a day on which natural haired individuals could come together and celebrate everything that makes them unique, their natural hair taking centre stage of course.
The run-up to the festival was exciting, but also incredibly nerve wrecking. As you can imagine, no matter how hard you work at making sure you’re covering all the basis, with so many different aspects all having to come together on one day, you’re bound to have to deal with just about anything.
We chose to host the event at the Blue Bird Garage, a beautiful old postal plane hangar with a rustic feel in Albertyn Road, Muizenberg. The festival was due to start at 10am, but when people started queuing outside from 8am already, we knew that the day was off to a good start. And by the time we were about to open the doors at 10:00, festival goers had literally already formed an orderly line right around the block. In both directions! So you can imagine our elation at this point.
After initially only anticipating about 150 people, the rate at which our online tickets sold out told us that the demand in Cape Town for an event of this nature was big. But nothing, and I mean nothing could actually prepare us for the excess of 800 people who eventually walked through the doors. Women and men of all curly textures and patterns showed up either by themselves, with their partners, their friends or their families to shop from 30 hair product, beauty and jewellery vendors.
They were also there to be inspired and educated so we made sure that we had the right people delivering talks and demonstrations appropriate to the event. (Included in this was my debut speaking engagement, but more on this later.)
A few of these included:
- A demonstration on creating your perfect home-made shea butter cream by Rockin Naturals and Cape Town Naturally co-founder, Kasuba Stuurman, and
- A natural hair talk entitled “The Politics of Hair” by Brian Warfield, who has over 27 years experience in the hair care industry both locally and internationally. His experience includes product development, creating marketing strategies and conducting workshops nationwide for stylists and salon owners.
Festival goers were also there to be entertained so we had performances by songstress, Ashleigh Davids and the group Black Kurrant.
And of course a festival is not a festival without prize giveaways. We had some amazing prizes sponsored to us by our vendors as well as brands who weren’t able to physically be at the event, but who wanted to sponsor some products for our goodie bags. Some of them included The Perfect Hair, Design Essentials and Cantu.
A festival of this nature would not have been possible without a solid organising team in place, so I am proud to announce the squad who brought the first ever natural hair show of this magnitude to Cape Town, and according to those in the know, South Africa. Pictured from left to right in the image above, the team consisted of: Amanda Cooke, Kasuba Stuurman, Simone Thomas, Eleanor Barkes (myself) and Chantal De Kock.
Would you believe it if I told you that we all initially met online through one common aspect? You wouldn’t be wrong for guessing that it was through natural hair.
The five of us are also the admins of the Cape Town Naturally Page and Support Group on Facebook. These are the pages where natural haired women and men provide everyday honest advice and inspiration with regards to taking care of natural hair, so go ahead and click the like buttons over there if you haven’t already.
In this image we are pictured with Claren Oliver and Gail Oliver, two (real) natural sisters who are very active in the Facebook groups and who worked as volunteers on the day. Both did an outstanding job.
Over here we are pictured with Nyaki Tshabangu, front runner of naturalhair.co.za. Keep an eye out for more of their activity on their soon-to-be launched website.
My Debut Speaking Engagement
I have something to confess. 2016 was a year that I challenged myself to do more things out of my comfort zone. Getting up and talking in front of a huge crowd of people was one of them, so when the time came for us to work on the program months before the fest, I simply couldn’t ignore the urge that was pulling at my heart strings to do a talk. As soon as I had decided to do it, I started formulating the concept of my speech. Now don’t think that I was prepared way in advance. In fact, right up until the night before I was up late fretting about it, but too nervous to even practice in front of a mirror. So I showed up the Sunday morning a nervous little wreck, almost fearful of what I had gotten myself into.
But let me tell you, as soon as I walked onto that stage and started speaking something else that was seemingly hidden in me for a very long time, came alive. There I was, in all my 5 foot 1 glory talking to a crowd of about 400 people at the time. I couldn’t believe that I was actually doing it, but more than that I enjoyed it. Let me just be honest: I absolutely loved it! To the point where I can’t wait for my next speaking opportunity. And judging from their reaction, the punters loved it too!
The title of my talk was “Why your natural hair journey matters”. If you’re interested in hearing my thoughts on this or if you’d like to book me as a speaker at your next event, whether it involves hair, self-love, self-esteem or a related matter, do get in touch as I have quite a lot to say on the topic and I’ve realised that I quite enjoy getting it across.
It’s going to sound like such a cliché, but the following quote by R.S. Grey has never been so apt as it was in this situation: “She believed she could and so she did.”
Feedback from festival goers
“The 5 stars, the fantastic 5 – whatever you choose to call them, they did a phenomenal job today!” – @naturalhair.co.za
“So many curlies under one roof. Amazing how the natural hair community has grown over the past few years.” – @curlyheads_and_dimples
“We finally got the time to meet, chat and take a photo. Such a kind soul , warm heart and positive being. I’m obsessed with you @eleanorjadore.” – @reddee.co.za
“Thank you again for having me on board. It was refreshing and emotional to be part of such an incredible and important day. Look at these intelligent, driven women of colour with their natural crowns out who organised the #ctnaturalhairfest.” – @Chantal.Stanfield
“The stunning @eleanorjadore hosting the best hair event of 2016.” – @silkhelmetlady
“Big hair, beautiful people, and great music.” – @itsabbygee
“Had such an awesome time at the #ctnaturalhairfest, especially getting to meet people who have inspired me, catching up with people I haven’t seen in a while, getting to meet the people behind the insta or fb post and of course getting to bond with everyone over our love for hair and self.” – @jamyfelton
Remember to check out #ctnaturalhairfest on Instagram for hundreds of pictures from the event. If you have any more feedback to share please feel free to drop me a line.
We are already working on the 2017 festival so for more information or if you’d like to get involved contact me on firstname.lastname@example.org.
I have a few more posts related to the fest coming up so look out for them in the next couple of weeks.
Photographs by Michael Barkes