How was Curlfest? I was asked that question 10 times in the last 24 hours. My reply: Wonderful!
Curlfest launched in 2013 by the Curly Girl Collective as a festival to celebrate women of color with natural hair while linking them with the best brands supporting the movement. Curlfest has been held in Prospect Park (Brooklyn, NY) in the middle of summer. It is a perfect example of utilizing social media to accelerate a movement.
While attending Curlfest, you could not help but feel empowered. Whether your hair is curly or straight (you would feel a bit out of place with straight hair but all are welcome!), there was a strong sense of pride which is rare in gatherings lately. There were a plethora of t-shirts with strong statements, ankara prints, children rocking their fros. It felt like this was the black girl magic version of woodstock (minus the drugs). We felt free, together and a part of a cause no one could deny.
This year, Spike Lee was in attendance and spoke to the crowd. One message that stood out was him commending the crowd on their beauty while demanding we take command of the economics of our power. Spike has a valid point as the natural hair care industry is now valued over $500B. Wouldn’t it be a shame that we don’t profit by providing brands for us and by us.
In addition to visiting vendors and booths, we were able to get our face painted by the artist Laolu. We waited in line for an hour, going well beyond his closing time, to have our face become canvasses based on Yoruba sacred traditional art. We officially were touched with the energy of our ancestors which was carried with us the entire day. The face art invited conversations and requests for pictures well beyond our expectations.
The day was hot but it did not stop anyone from dancing to the music blasting from the stage. It did not take long to run out of things to do, but the long lines made time go by fast. The best find was a bag of products from brands such as Madame CJ Walker, Shea Moisture, etc. For $35, we were able to grab this to go bag, with a curl fest tote and a much needed coconut. It was definitely a bargain because I am sure it is valued well over $100.
Curlfest is destined to get bigger and bigger. It was an amazing experience without any drama. We all came and had a wonderful time and left with stories for years to come. It was wonderful to see children soaking up the beauty of our people from all over the diaspora. I strongly encourage a visit to Curlfest in 2018.
See you next year!