I remember turning a page in Glamour magazine more than 25 years ago and coming upon an ad for Ouidad Deep Treatment – a product specifically for curly hair. I was in shock. A product just for curly hair? I was sharing this story with a woman who had flown from Detroit to the Fort Lauderdale book signing for The Curl Revolution: Inspiring Stories and Practical Advice from the NaturallyCurly Community. She had the exact same memory and an identical reaction.
That may seem kind of crazy today when hundreds of products for curls, coils and waves line the shelves of every store. But in the '80s, it was a product desert. Most of us curly girls resorted to either straightening our hair or using products like Dippity 'Do to provide some control over our texture. So it was especially fitting that the fifth stop of our Book Tour be at the Ouidad Salon FL in Fort Lauderdale, a salon owned by the wonderful curl experts Chadwick Pendley and Igor Araujo, two award-winning curl experts who have gained a national reputation. And Ouidad herself, the Queen of Curls, was there for the celebration. Chadwick hosted a Q&A with Ouidad and me asking questions about everything from "what one curl item would we choose if we could only choose one" (I said a diffuser and Ouidad said her fingers) to what prompted both of us to launch curl enterprises at a time when curly hair was completely ignored. Many of the people in the audience shared their own hair experiences – some funny and some heartbreaking.
The salon was filled with women and men from around the world. One Swedish couple was in town for a cruise and heard about the event when Googling for a curl expert for the husband's big, beautiful mane of curls. "It was such good luck to find out about this party!" he said, with a bag full of books he purchased for friends and family. There was a woman who had just done her Big Chop after years of straightening but was still trying to get used to it. For her, the party was "motivating and inspiring."
I met so many amazing people at the event, including a curly male dancer who appeared in last season's "So You Think You Can Dance" reality TV show. He entertained us with his gravity-defying moves. Another woman discovered NaturallyCurly in 2000 and said: "NaturallyCurly saved my life!" One of my favorites was a 9-year-old curly girl who was there with her mother, and she said she was using her allowance to buy the book.
One of my favorites was a 9-year-old curly girl who was there with her mother, and she said she was using her allowance to buy the book.
The overall sentiment last night was that we have much to celebrate. The curly world has come so far. But everyone agreed that we still have ways to go, especially when it comes to the availability of curl experts like Chadwick, Igor, Sondriel and their team. Most towns still lack stylists trained in how to work with texture.
I'm heading home for a night in Austin, and then it's off to Atlanta for a fun Sunday 1 p.m. brunch signing at Southern Curl. From there, I'll be flying to Boston for a party Monday at Cala Renee Salon in Beverly, MA. Hope to see you soon at one of the upcoming book signings!
A co-worker asked me if I was exhausted from the travels, and I said it's been so energizing and inspiring. It's been a reminder of why NaturallyCurly was created 19 years ago, and how we are still a necessary resource.