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Event Recap: Masters Brunch 2014

Last Sunday at The Moran Victorian Mansion in Bed Stuy Brooklyn, I was privileged to be counted among a group of inspirational and influential women in the natural hair community at this year’s Masters Brunch. The theme: The Natural Hair Revolution, Present and Future.

Sponsored by SheaMoisture and organized by The Supernaturals, the invitation-only affair brought together influencers from various facets of the natural hair industry- natural hair care professionals, actresses, vloggers, bloggers and of course, masters- all dressed in uninterrupted white as a symbol of unity.

Fellow blogger Ijeoma Eboh of Klassy Kinks and I happened to arrive together and were greeted by LaToya Johnston, one fourth of The Supernaturals (which includes natural hair care pioneer Diane Bailey, Imani Dawson of Tribe Called Curl and Natasha Gaspard of Mane Moves TV). We were handed sponsored gift bags packed with full and sample-sized products along with the book I Found God in My Hair by actress Tanya Wright who was in attendance as a panelist.

Photo credit: Nay Marie | www.naymarie.com

Photo credit: Nay Marie | www.naymarie.com

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We hadn’t made it further than the garden walkway before we were greeted by more familiar faces… and a pomegranate mimosa! #yummers

Once hugs and kisses were exchanged, we were encouraged to network and meet those who we may not have known. To help us along, each tabletop had printed questions to ask one another and fun activities to break the ice like taking a selfie with someone’s whose hair you admire, with your hair twin, etc. We were buzzing in no time! After a few glances, I finally placed the face of Arizona stylist Essence China {creator of this gorgeous style which gained popularity after being featured in Essence Magazine} and head over to her table to formally introduce myself and chat a bit. We’ve communicated on Instagram so it was a rather smooth transition. She was as sweet as she is beautiful.

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Group shots, selfies and usies came to a screeching halt when the announcement came that brunch was served. Everything looked delectable and my taste buds were not disappointed. Oooh-wee!

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With bellies full, it was time for the discussion to get underway. Imani introduced a stellar panel of women who represented different areas of the natural hair community: KinkyCurlyCoilyMe! Editor-In-Chief and vlogger Jenell Stewart, actress Tanya Wright, Essence Online Beauty Editor Deena Campbell and natural hair care pioneer Tulani Kinard.

Masters-Brunch-2014-PanelEach shared their perspective of the the realities of the natural hair movement as it stands and where they’d like to see it in the near future. Tanya expounded on what it’s like being a natural in Hollywood and shared a revelation she had while on the set of the hit show “24″. When preparing to shoot, Tanya decided one day that she would wear her own hair as it grew out of her head, going without the wig she had been wearing for some time. When she mentioned this to one of the crew, she was asked why she hadn’t done that all along. She knew he made a good point. That was a pivotal moment for her. I am big on realness and candor in these types of discussions and Tanya brought it.

Tulani Kinard definitely stole the show. As a pioneer in this game and mentor of many, she really broke things down, addressing us as would a caring mother. She told it like it was! One thing she stressed, which was definitely echoed by all, was the spirit of unity within the natural hair community. “There’s enough for all of us”, she said. So true. “There shouldn’t be one negative thing said about another person in this space. We need to work together”.

I more than enjoyed the food, gleaned much from the conversation, and the venue was… everything!

Many thanks to The Supernaturals for having me. What a lovely Sunday afternoon!

Trying to put together a recap video so you can hear some of the panel discussion for yourselves and view more pics. In the meantime, feel free to search the hashtag #MastersBrunch2014 on Twitter and Instagram for an overview of the brunch and to check out all who were in attendance.

Xoxo
Toia B.

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Hair Tip Tuesday: 5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Stylist

It’s no secret that choosing a good stylist can be hard work. For some, it takes years before they finally find someone who they can really trust with their hair. These five points should help you cut down on that search time… let’s hope!

Communication

A stylist is a keeper if they are able to communicate well with their clients. “The customer is always right”?! Hmph! The last thing you need is someone who is going to do whatever you want even if it’s to your detriment, i.e. executing a style that looks pretty on the surface but in the end will do more damage than good. If she really cares about the health of your hair, she will tell you the truth, whether you wanna hear it or not. I’d rather my hair care pro tell me what’s best for my hair in the long run and not only be concerned with making me happy for the moment.

It’s also great when the stylist talks you through the steps being taken and why. I LOVE that! Yes, she’s the pro but it’s your hair and you have every right to know what’s going on. A caring hair care pro will volunteer the info you need without you having to ask.

Listening

Communication is a two-way street. More than being vocal about what she intends to do to your hair, your stylist should also be willing to hear you out. A doctor can’t treat you if they don’t first listen to what the symptoms are. The same is true with your hair care. Before they even touch your head, a good stylist will usually have some sort of consultation with you to assess your hair needs, since everyone’s will differ. How can they know how to move forward and really keep you as a customer if they don’t earn your trust by listening to you?

Reputation

Word of mouth is probably one of the top ways stylists build their clientele. If your friend’s or family member’s hair is always together, ask where they get it done. Not only do they serve as walking advertisements for these hair care professionals but the hair of the stylists themselves is also a good indication of whether or not you’re in good hands.

Any good stylist who cares about getting and keeping clients will be about making sure their own hair is just as well taken care of as anyone who sits in their chair. Think about it- what can a person with a messy, disorganized home tell you about keeping YOURS clean? Not one single, solitary thing! Observe and ask yourself: Does the stylist’s hair have the overall appearance of health? I dunno about you but I don’t see the logic in trusting my mane to someone who can’t keep themselves looking right.

Manners

Yeah, I think it helps if you actually like your stylist. Who wants to be in the company of someone for hours who has no bedside manner (these medical analogies are coming in handy!), has an attitude or is just downright rude? You should look forward to salon time, not dread having to deal with a snarky stylist.

A stylist should be professional and treat you with respect, which includes being considerate of your time. They should not have you waiting for hours because they overbooked, nor should they rush you out of their chair so they can be on to the next one, not giving you the care you deserve. Many well-respected salons these days will require a deposit to confirm the appointment (which keeps them from overbooking) and/or impose a penalty if a client is more than “x” amount of minutes late (which serves as a deterrent) and I ain’t mad at ‘em!

Cleanliness

We can’t realistically expect a salon to stay super spotless all day. I mean… it’s a salon! But a stylist who cares about the well-being of their clients will keep a clean station and most importantly, clean, sanitized tools. You will notice a container of Barbicide disinfectant (that blue stuff) or some type of sanitizing agent which they should be using for their hair tools regularly between clients. Yay to no bacteria transferral!! ;-)

Yes, choosing the best hair care professional may take some work but it’ll all be worth it to find someone who really cares about the health of your hair. Make the effort and take the time to find someone who knows what they’re doing. Also, don’t be afraid to speak up or walk out if you feel that something isn’t right! You have to do what’s right for you in the end.

How did you go about finding YOUR stylist? Share below!

xoxo

Toia B.

Cocotique-Sept-Box

LAST DAY to Get Your #COCOTIQUE September Anniversary Box!

COCOTIQUE’S ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY BOX, CURATED BY NICOLE ARI PARKER, IS ALL ABOUT CELEBRATING YOUR “INNER QUEEN”.

Featured brands inlcuded in all anniversary boxes are:

All Natural Nude | Cover FX | Dermae | Jones & Rose | Revlon | SheaMoisture

Plus 2-3 more bonus brands from some of your favorite boxes from COCOTIQUE’S first year.

Take a Peek Inside!

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BONUS BOX GIFT

One subscriber will win COCOTIQUE’S Bonus Box gift! They will receive a Save Your Do GymWrap by Nicole Ari Parker (Value: $24.95), a selection of jewelry from Jewels of June (Value: $220), a Black Halo dress (Value: $345), a selection of body products from Jones and Rose (Value: $48), a collection of makeup from BlackUp Cosmetics from Paris (Value: $90), and a complete haircare collection from All Natural Nude (Value: $78).

This bonus box represents a value of over $800!

*Deadline to order 8/23. Orders after 8/23 will receive the October box.

Click the COCOTIQUE link to the right and order yours now!

Xoxo

Toia B.

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EVENT ALERT: Let Your Hair Down Expo | Sept. 13, 2014

On Saturday, September 13th, the Let Your Hair Down Expo returns to Brooklyn, NY, where it all began! The largest natural hair care expo to hit the home of the Brownstones hits Sanders Studio with KinkyCurlyCoilyMe! Editor-In-Chief Jenell Stewart serving as host for its third installment.

I was honored to be a part of the blogger panel at the first LYHD Expo back in 2012 and was thoroughly impressed with the turnout and amount of vendors and activities to be enjoyed. Fully aware of the challenges presented at last year’s event due to the high demand, organizer Candace Kelley proactively implemented some changes this time around: (1) the day will be broken down into two 4-hour sessions, allowing two different groups to enjoy this highly anticipated event and (2) there will be a cap on tickets, which means… purchase yours early!!

Attendees will enjoy an amazing vendor marketplace, interactive workshops featuring hair care professionals Felicia Leatherwood, Tameeka McNeil-Johnson and Diane Bailey as well as free main-stage activities and workshops with trichologist Tiffany Anderson, Karen Tappin of Karen’s Body Beautiful and more!

Don’t wait! Get your tickets here!

xoxo

Toia B.

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Hair Tip Tuesday: 4 Ways to Cope When Your ‘Do Just Don’t!

It happens to the best of us. We return to our natural texture, get excited about products, hairstyles, the whole gambit and then we hit this… plateau where we we’ve lost the creativity we once had or maybe we lack the energy, time or even the desire, for that matter, to deal with our hair.

What’s a girl to do? How do you climb out of this rut?!

Here are four suggestions:

Try a Protective Style

Going this route will not only shake things up a bit by giving you a new look, but if time is a factor for you, not having to style your hair daily will allow oodles of time to focus on whatever it is you need to take care of. An added benefit is that leaving your hair alone for a while will allow your hair to grow undisturbed. Recently, I’ve been rockin’ easy breezy roll ‘n’ tuck or french braid styles for a week at a time. A bun is another simple protective style that’s cool for everyday but can also be quite elegant for special occasions. If done right, they can last you a week or two. Cornrows, braids and twists… also great options and can last you a little longer. Just be sure to keep your hair moisturized for the duration of the style!

#TheCutLife

Yup, cut it. I know, this one may be a bit drastic for some but hey, less hair = less work! If you’re reading this, you most likely follow a slew of naturalistas, some of whom have recently or at some point in their journey cut their hair. They’ll tell you in a minute that they spend far less time on wash day which, for most is a huge plus! But, cutting your hair doesn’t necessarily mean you have to go back to big chop days, per se, if that’s not your thing. Get a bob or a fly tapered cut! Find a trusted stylist who specializes in natural hair to give you a nice shape that suits you and you’re in business.

Undercuts and fades are also fan faves. While I don’t think I’d ever get one myself, I’ve gotta say… they’re pretty dope!

Wrap it Up!

This protective style has been my lazy/bad hair day go-to for years and will never lose its appeal. See! Until you figure out what you want to do with your actual hair, g’on and cover it up with a sleek solid or gorgeously printed scarf. Here’s a side tip: you don’t always have to hunt for a designated scarf or run to the fabric store. Anything, and I mean ANYTHING can be used as a headwrap. If you have a skirt, shirt, pair of pants, whatever, with a design or print that you especially like, throw that thing on your head! If you wrap it just right, no one will be the wiser. I’ve used those 3 for $10 “pashminas” as headwraps in the cooler months as well as beach cover-ups and sarongs when it’s warmer. Fabric is fabric. ;-)

If you’ve got some length, try cornrowing, bunning or loosely twisting your moisturized hair prior to wrapping to get rid of the bulk. Stick to non-cotton materials or use a satin scarf as a protective barrier to keep the natural oils in your hair if you are using something that’s made of cotton.

Use Your Resources!

For all of the aforementioned options, I bet you five bucks there’s a YouTube video that can give you a tutorial or some form of inspiration on it! Go ahead and pull up the site (you know it’s already bookmarked! Haha!), type in that keyword and voila! You have tons of simple and creative protective style tutorials, super cute hair cut ideas (plus maintenance tips) and helpful headwrap how-tos at your fingertips.

Are you a reader? Welp, more than a natural hair care guide, Curly Nikki’s Better Than Good Hair is full of naturalistas breaking down their favorite hair styles with corresponding photos to help you get that ‘do together. Natural hair sites and blogs can also be great resources for that “aha moment” when you’re stuck for what to do next.

So, tell me… what do you do when YOU’RE stuck in a style rut?

Hope this was helpful!

xoxo

Toia B.