Above photo is of Toronto Natural Hair & Beauty Show Host Nikki Morgan.
By Beverly Browne
Pride Contributing Writer
Up to the end of the 20th century, for many years, Black females who were in the limelight and looked up to by fans, all had straight hair.
Whether the hair was chemically processed or straightened with a hot comb, the end result of the look was mostly the same. From the likes of Mahalia Jackson, Billie Holiday, Sarah Vaughan, Diahann Carroll, Diana Ross, Phylicia Rashad, Whitney Houston…. the list could go on.
Couple that with the fact that during those times our mothers didn’t know how to properly care for natural hair. They combed, brushed, oiled, braided or put it in a ponytail or bun; but by the age of 12 every girl wanted her hair straightened – first, because of the look, and then because it was easier to manage. Just imagine the difference it would have made if some of the Black entertainers, or the likes of a Condoleeza Rice wore their hair natural yet feminine and stylish!
Jump to the year 2003…… when Toronto’s Natural Hair & Beauty show started. Founder Stephanie Joseph simply wanted to celebrate a personal success: her first-year anniversary of wearing her hair natural. Response to that first show was surprisingly positive, and led to a bigger event. This Saturday and Sunday, Stephanie and business partner, Marsha Patterson, are presenting the Ninth Annual Toronto Natural Hair & Beauty Show.
As show founder Stephanie says, “We have a passion for natural hair. Women were never taught how to maintain their hair. Now that’s changing.”
They’re calling the show, “Natural Hair Rocks”. It takes place at the Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre, at 6 Garamond Court, Toronto.
Stephanie says she feels the Toronto interest in natural hair really started to take off in 2008, but had been growing slowly prior to that. She concedes that straight hair requires less work than natural hair, but she says there are some definite things women can do to better manage their natural hair.
One example Stephanie gives is that natural hair “is easier to deal with when you braid your hair at night, rather than leaving it out.”
Although there are various smaller events highlighting natural hair, this show is the biggest. The fact that it has been successful since its inception in 2003 demonstrates how women crave information on the subject. Add to that, the fact that there are a number of show sponsors, including Pride News Magazine, also is a clue to the credibility it has built over nine years.
Show organizers describe the two-day event as a vehicle through which people of African descent can raise their consciousness of natural hair, while providing opportunity for other cultural groups to be enlightened. There’s also a vendor marketplace that includes hairdressers, product producers and distributors, natural hair bloggers and holistic health practitioners.
The Saturday event has an educational emphasis, with 14 workshops being facilitated. That means you’ll have to choose what’s of most interest to you. On Sunday, there’s more of an entertainment emphasis, with performers, fashion and hair show.
Host of the event is Nikki Morgan. A high-energy personality who was co-host alongside Rachel-Lea Rickards of “The Urban Wake-Up Show” on the CHRY 105.5 FM, she adds spice and humor to live shows. Over the years, her hosting has included the Mr. Caribbean Pageant, Jamaica Day and the very first reading of “Da Kink in my Hair”.
Some of the featured presenters and educators include supermodel, Stacey Mckenzie; Susan Walker, owner of www.earthtonesnaturals.com; Debiiey Dunn, owner of www.entyceyourbeauty.com; Keina Morgan, Hairstylist, Instructor, Consultant; Culinary Nutritionist, Andria Barrett; Dr. Nadine Wong, author of the book “If Your Hair Could Speak What Would It Say”; Anya Grant, founder of iheartmyhair.com; Christina Bellevue & Marlene Gordon, of www.belleviewbeauty.com; Avalon Williams, owner of Celebrity Unisex Salon; Bridget “bee” Quammie, a Healthcare Professional, Blogger; Design Essentials Natural; Monique London & Ariel Moore, of www.londonivyproducts.com; Deborah Allen, “The Healthy Diva”; Adeola Adegbusi, “The Mane Captain”; Miss Niya, owner of CleanLocs; and Greg H’Side Samba, African Dance dancer, teacher and choreographer.
Performers for Sunday include Steel Panist D’jango, Gospel Artist Tashana Thompson, and Afro Beat’s artist P’bay.
Admission to the show for Sat. or Sun. is $15 each day if paid in advance, or $20 at the door. Alternatively, you can buy a weekend pass for $25. The Japanese Canadian Cultural Centre is located in the Wynford Dr./Don Valley Parkway area.
The event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Sat.; and from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sun. For more information, you can call Stephanie at (647) 858-4247 or Marsha at (416) 580-5309; or email: firstname.lastname@example.org. The website is www.torontonaturals.ca.