PHOTO COURTESY OF EXCLUSIVE ACCESS

This year, Essence Fest turned 20! Over 500,000 people touched down in New Orleans for four days of empowerment, musical performances, and parties! The folks at Design Essentials invited me to take part in their Big Easy festivities, and I wanted to share the experience with you, #NaturallyCurly World!

Watch the Video

Below, watch my quick travel vlog from the weekend and click through to read more about my Big Easy weekend with Design Essentials.

Big Easy Celebrity Style Lounge with Ledisi

On Friday, I joined the Design Essentials crew at The W French Quarter for the Big Easy Celebrity Style Lounge. Not going to lie -- I made a beeline for the food first! Guests enjoyed a spread of red beans & rice, seafood, and other Louisiana fare.

The lounge was great for pampering and relaxation. Joi Mebane, creator of The Look By Joi was there to minister to your eyebrows. You could sit down for a massage and use luxurious body products from Jones & Rose, enjoy Morning Glamour satin pillowcases for your natural tresses and a free Design Essentials gifting station! The Natural line holds a special place in my heart -- the Moisturizing Conditioner was the first product that helped me realize I could finger detangle! No small accomplishment for a #4Chairchick! Guests could stock up on faves or form a custom regimen with the help of the Design Essentials team!

Grammy nominated (and New Orleans born & raised!) singer Ledisi was the special guest for the afternoon and she is just as magical in person as she is on stage! I saw her here in Austin a few weeks ago, and I left our short interview with the same bubbly feeling that I had at the end of her show.

We all love Ledisi’s locs, and this time they were in chunky bantu knots.

Sounds like a simple look to recreate at home for all you loc’d readers! I’d do it too, if my loose natural hair was that thick and full...

Ledisi added a cute scarf and it gave her whole look a fun 50s vibe. Now onto products: Ledisi’s fav Design Essentials products for locs are the Twist & Set Settling Lotion and Sleek Edge Control, which won our NaturallyCurly Editors’ Choice award this year!

PHOTO COURTESY EXCLUSIVE ACCESS

All White Affair with Omari Hardwick

I donned my all white everything and made my way to Metropolitan at Generations Hall for Insight Marketing’s 16th annual All White Affair. Two DJs, multiple bars, and dancing for hours? Sounds good to me!

Guests could swing by the Design Essentials VIP Lounge and enjoy more free products and snap photos with their friends. The place was packed and when DJ spun that Cupid Shuffle…you know I had to put my camera down and join in!

I was having such a great time on the second dancefloor (yes, there were multiple dance floors) that I missed special guest Omari Hardwick (Being Mary Jane)! Tastemaker Kenny Burns also made an appearance, and the party lasted long after I had to leave for the night. Good times in the Big Easy!

PHOTO COURTESY OF EXCLUSIVE ACCESS

Queendom with Lance Gross

I had to fly back to Austin on Sunday, so I missed the chance to hang out with my husband Lance Gross at the CoverGirl Queendom day party.

Living vicariously through Instagram, I see that I missed Biz Markie’s DJ set, CoverGirl makeovers, and the Design Essentials Pop-Up Salon! Imagine -- you could get all dolled up before the night’s Essence Fest musical performances at the Superdome!

Big thank you to Design Essentials for an amazing NOLA weekend. The last time I hung out with the DE crew during Curls and Conversations, I had a blast, and this weekend was no different. Until next time!

Do you follow us on Instagram? Many of my #EssenceFest pictures are there! @naturallycurly