BunMiss Jessie's, primary sponsor of the Nzuri Expo in Houston, stand.

The Houston natural hair scene finished 2011 with a bang — a big Nzuri bang! On December 10 & 11, the Reliant Center was transformed into a full blown production of the most impressive kind. From the fashion shows to pageants, live action styling to hands-on tutorials, expert led workshops to in-depth panels, the Nzuri Natural Hair, Health and Beauty Expo was more than just a hair show. The atmosphere was one of a family reunion, like a community of kindred spirits with common bonds. Nzuri was far more than a natural hair event; it was a show stopping event of the highest caliber.

Icons in the Hair Care Industry

There was no better way to kick off a fun-filled weekend than with a pre-party to get everyone pumped for the spectacular affair coming to Houston.

The Just “Froing Off” Pre-Event Gala was hosted by the Curls brand and offered great ambiance, yummy food and good company. This was a perfect opportunity to meet & mingle with some of the elite guests before the Nzuri expo.

Aevin Dugas, world's largest afro.

Miss Jessie’s did a phenomenal job as the primary sponsor of the Nzuri Expo. Taking their place front and center, the Miss Jessie’s booth set the tone for what was to come. The DJ was spinning great music and the atmosphere was buzzing with excitement the entire time. Patrons were greeted with swag bags filled with yummy samples and promotional items from Miss Jessie’s as well as other vendors.

I think many were not even expecting the two gorgeous faces of Miss Jessie’s founders, Titi and Miko, interacting with the crowd, but it was certainly a pleasant surprise to me! The ladies so graciously held not one, but two stage presentations discussing everything from natural hair styling tips to how the Miss Jessie’s line originated. They even took the time to pose for pictures with attendees! It felt like a very personal experience even though there were well over 8,000 people in attendance.

It's a Family Affair

Little Miss Happy Head Pageant participant.

Nzuri brought out a wide variety of people to the Reliant Center. Of course there were beautiful natural curls, braids and locs everywhere you turned, but there were also plenty of natural supporters in the building too. The natural hair event was not just geared towards naturalistas, but brought entire families together. Significant others were there offering support to one another, children were there in high numbers enjoying the festivities, and even boyfriends tagged along with their natural girlfriends to see what all the fuss was about!

There were many options for everyone to be a participant in the activities offered at the Nzuri Expo. Macy’s sponsored not one but two fashions shows on the main stage that really got the crowd moving. Talk about a great combination of fabulous fashion and fabulous hair!

We were also treated to an extra special presentation of the littlest natural girls and boys. The Little Miss Happy Head and the Little Mr. Handsome Man Pageants truly stole the show. It was heartwarming to see the spirit, enthusiasm and pride in these young naturals!

Knowledge is Power

Celebrity stylist, Felicia Leatherwood.

Even amidst all the entertainment, there was still no shortage of pertinent information during this exciting natural hair event. The coordinators for the Nzuri Expo made sure to feed your mind as well. They brought in the powerhouse brands of Miss Jessie’s and Jane Carter, Felicia Leatherwood (celebrity stylist of Jill Scott), Isis Brantley (celebrity stylist of Erykah Badu), and featured salons like The Damn Salon out of Atlanta and Houston Based salon Zayd’s Naturally Natural. These professionals shared a wealth of styling tips and tricks and offered inspiration for new styles too!

Patrons were able participate in various hair, health and beauty workshops ranging from traction alopecia to the eco chic beauty revolution. I particularly enjoyed the “I Can’t Workout Because of My Hair!” workshop led by Sporty Afros founders Whitney Patterson and Alexandria Williams. The topic was quite engaging as most women face this very issue when deciding to go natural. Being fit and being natural can go hand in hand!

I also had the distinct honor of being a participant on the Blogger Speak panel with Ms. BeautifulBrwnBabyDol and a host of other super cool bloggers. The Bloggersphere offered a chance for bloggers and readers to connect on a more personal level. As Cassidy of NaturalSelectionBlog.com so eloquently described, “it brings the online offline.”

Shopping Galore!

Cassidy getting "damned."

I shouldn’t even tell you how good the vendors were at this year’s expo, it might just make you jealous! From t-shirts to hot shorts, hair ties to scarves, purses to products…pretty much anything you can think of was for sale and at great prices! I picked up some great “Good Hair” earrings from ChariT’s Inspirational Creations and a cute “Curly Girl” tee from The Urban Rose. This event was the perfect opportunity for shoppers to pick up some unique, handcrafted pieces, no matter if you were shopping for Christmas gifts or just shopping for the heck of it.

Product junkies shopped til their hearts were content at Nzuri. Jane Carter of Jane Carter Solution was there in person giving product demonstrations and recommendations. She even worked some magic in my hair! I got to meet Pam Jenkins of Koils by Nature and pick up some wonderfully scented Sweet Almond Joy hair and body butter. Both Zayd’s Naturally Natural salon and The Damn Salon launched their new product lines at the Nzuri expo. There were products for everyone and I can’t wait to try them all!

Want More?

Follow the Curl Current to see what is up and coming for natural hair events in your city!

Bigger & Better for 2012

The natural hair community in Houston and beyond was well represented over the duration of the event. People came from far and wide to experience the southern hospitality offered by the great state of Texas. Nzuri welcomed people from Atlanta, New York, California and even the UK during the Expo. After the initial tallies came in, it is estimated that well over 8,000 people attended the Nzuri Natural Hair, Health and Beauty Expo. That is a spectacular turnout and is indicative of the amount of time and effort that went into planning such an impressive natural hair event. You don’t want to miss out on all the fun next year; it can only be bigger and better for 2012!