Keenya Kelly

NaturallyCurly: Introduce yourself and your event or company.

Keenya Kelly Griffin: Keenya Kelly LLC is an organization created with the purpose of helping inspire and empower individuals to a place of physical health, self-esteem and spirituality by providing events that meet those objectives.

NC: Can you tell me a little bit about yourself and how you got started in the hair care business?

KG: I've been involved in sales and marketing my entire life, and my father was also starting businesses when I was a child. I got started in the hair care industry because of a personal need. A little over two years ago, I decided to transition to natural. While getting my big chop, I realized I had no idea what to do with my hair, and the more I asked around, the more I realized that most natural women didn't know either. A friend from church and I decided to have what we thought was going to be a hair party, but in a matter of six weeks it turned into a very large event with 25 vendors and over 400 attendees. I then realized that there was more of a need than we were aware of.

NC: Can you tell me a little bit about your own personal background and the event’s background?

KG: At age 21, I started working heavily in sales and marketing through network marketing. I held weekly business events at a local hotel and large business training conferences around every quarter for about five years. All of this occurred while I was attending the University of Louisville, obtaining my bachelors degree in Communication.

NC: How do you wear your hair? Natural? Curly?

KG: On a typical day, you will find my hair either styled in a twist out or braid out. I usually only straighten my hair once a year for a trim and a length check. My boyfriend adores my hair in frohawks, so I switch it up every once in a while. I LOVE my curly hair since it sets me apart from the average woman on the street. I love being able to maneuver my hair in 100 different ways, without having to always consult a stylist or pay some of the weekly fees I was use to paying.

Read More: Best Summer Hair Products

Keeyna Kelly

NC: Can you tell me about your curly hair story?

KG: Growing up, I never knew a woman who wore her hair naturally curly. Me and all of my sisters were accustomed to having our hair relaxed every six to eight weeks and wearing our hair straight. It wasn’t until I moved to Richmond, VA that I began seeing black women wearing their hair in its naturally curly state. I NEVER ever thought about going natural a day in my life until about 3 years ago. All of a sudden I had a desire to see what my hair would look like if I stopped relaxing. I transitioned once, then relaxed. The second time I couldn’t take the transitioning any longer as my hair began to grow into the size of a football helmet. So one day I called a friend and told her I was coming over for the Big Chop. I’ll never forget looking into the mirror and asking myself “what have I done.” I was mortified, but I knew that it was too late, and the journey began.

I wish I could say that it was a smooth transition, but it was not. I had to go through the process of relearning who I was and what defined me as beautiful. I had to relearn everything my mom and stylist had ever told me about caring for my hair and scalp while enduring the ridicule I was receiving from those around me. But as the months went by, the love for myself grew, and I realized that as a result of me breaking out of a “box” the society had placed me in, I indirectly inspired a ton of other women to jump out of their boxes as well.

NC: Let’s talk a bit about the event: when, where, cost to enter, type of vendors, how often...?

KG: Return of the Curls will take place Saturday July 28 from 10am – 7pm at the Greater Richmond Convention Center, 403 North Third Street Richmond, VA 23219. The entry fee is just $15 for the entire event. The type of vendors will range from hair products to jewelry, accessories and such. This event will take place once a year in Richmond, VA but will begin traveling to other cities and states in 2013.

NC: What can attendees expect to see and experience at the event?

KG: Attendees will not only be able to come together with over 1000 other women with curly hair, but women of all races who have the same questions or concerns about caring for their curly hair. They can expect to see Jess with Jessicurl who will be on stage conducting a live styling demonstration. The CURLS styling team will teach on “How to achieve effortless, frizz, free, curls.” Maryjo of Imago Salon, a Richmond favorite, will be on stage conducting a live demonstration. And finally, Nina Ellis-Hervey (“Beautiful Brown Babydol" of YouTube) will be gracing the stage sharing her hair and weight loss journey along with a host of other on-stage demonstrations and workshops.

Attendees will also have the opportunity to experience Richmond's first ever Curly Hair/Fashion Show featuring up and coming models, designers and hair stylists as well as some “surprise” curlies on the runway that evening.

Read More: “The Coiffure Project” Brings Natural Hair To the Art World

Keeyna Kelly

NC: How does your event differ from other events happening in the community?

KG: This will be the first event of its kind. Typically, curly women drive or fly to different cities to partake in Curly Hair Expos and Fashion Shows, but this year they will be able to stay in their backyard and experience what they have paid thousands of dollars to experience in the past.

This event is different than anything else in Richmond because it’s an event designed to empower all women to embrace how they were created, to celebrate one another and support local small businesses by investing in their products or services.

NC: Anything else you would like to add?

KG: Its such a blessing to be able to provide our city with the same opportunity that other curlies have in the major cities as well as being able to bring people of all races together in the hair industry when its not really happening anywhere else.

NC: Tell us where we can connect with your brand:

KG: To stay connected with Return of the Curls you can find us at Return of the Curls, Facebook or Twitter. To stay connected with Keenya Kelly you can find me at keenyakelly.com or my Facebook page.

NC: Lastly, What’s your opinion on the texture revolution.

KG: I LOVE the revolution that is taking place right now. More women are saying no to chemically straightening their hair, no to some hot irons that have damaged their curl patterns and taking the time to truly learn more about the curliness that resides on the top of their heads.

NC: Do you see it becoming a bigger trend/movement? In Hollywood? In real life?

I have noticed more women in movies and on television that have textured hair vs the normal straight hair we have been seeing for years and I believe the more the media embraces it, the less we will see women always flat ironing their hair or chemically relaxing.

Read More: Panthenol Hair Products