When I took a poll of where people had come from at Saturday's Curl Revolution Brunch at Oyin Handmade Boutique & Salon in the heart of Baltimore, I expected most people to be locals. Instead, many had come in from hours away, including some who attended one of the first book signings in Rockville, Md. Back in early October.
The book, to my delight, has become a catalyst for curl conversations before, during and after each event. Many told me they wanted to bring friends, daughters and even husbands to experience this curl kinship!
Baltimore was the 11th stop for the tour of The Curl Revolution: Inspiring Stories and Practical Advice from the NaturallyCurly Community. And the brunch was an ideal opportunity for Oyin Handmade founder Jamyla Bennu and I to reflect on our curl journeys and the dramatic changes we've experienced in the texture world.
When I first connected with Bennu 12 years ago, she had recently begun selling her brand of hair and body products online. At the time, Oyin Handmade included a handful of botanical styling products, lotion and shampoo bars and lip balms. It already had become a cult hit among with women with curly and textured hair.
Bennu, who grew up with "very pro-Black hippy parents," wore her hair natural most of her life and had only started relaxing her hair in high school. At Spelman College in Atlanta, she was inspired by all the natural hair around her and transitioned back.
Oyin Handmade – the company gets its name from the Yoruban word for honey – was a way to channel her lifelong creativity and combine it with a desire to create products that were good for the hair. What was once four products has grown into a staple in in the natural haircare space, with products ranging from early favorites Greg Juice, Hair Dew and Burnt Sugar Pomade to her latest offerings - Ginger Mint Co-Wash and Oh My Glide! Prestyling Detangler. Bennu still oversees all aspects of her business, and was heading off after the event to mix up a few batches of products.
As has happened throughout the tour, the real magic comes from the people who have attended the event. One curly woman broke into tears as she talked about her two young curly daughters – one who was with her that day and one who refused to come because she dislikes her tight curls so much.
I also met other amazing female entrepreneurs, including Jillian Gee of The Black Synergee Podcast, Niccara Campbell, Creator of The Urban Tea, a blog that mixes her love for politics, food, and beauty, and Wan Campbell, CEO and Senior Publicist for WanCampbell PR.
And best of all, my 17-year-old daughter, Emma Seaborn, was there to experience it all. It was the first book signing she's been to since the Austin launch at BookPeople Oct. 3rd.
She was able to reunite with a friend she met this summer while volunteering with Amigos de las Americas in the Yucatan. Sari Finn, who lives in Washington, D.C., recently did the Big Chop herself and was thrilled to meet Jamyla and talk with other naturalistas. Her sister, she said, was floored that her friend Emma's mom was co-founder of NaturallyCurly because that is her go-to site.
For two brief hours, I think I was a little less uncool in the mind of my daughter. And that was invaluable!
I can't fully express how inspiring, empowering and emotional these book signings have been, and how they have reinforced the need for these types of conversations to be happening. Each one also provides a powerful reminder of why we started NaturallyCurly 19 years ago, and the important purpose it continues to serve.
See you in Chicago on Dec. 10th at Curls & Co.!