ENHS is the Edmonton Natural hair show which took place at Boyle Street Plaza on Saturday 27th April & Sunday 28th April 2019. It showcased various businesses and services geared towards natural hair, health and beauty and so much more!
Musings with Mo was fortunate to sit down with the team lead and organizer of the hair show, Osas Emeka-Smith.
Hi Osas! Tell us a little about yourself and what prompted you to start an event like the Edmonton Natural Hair show?
I love natural hair and I am passionate about anything related to natural hair which is why I decided to start the Edmonton Natural hair show. Growing up in Nigeria, and especially going to a private boarding school as a young girl, I loved hair because we would do different hairstyles every week and gather around with my friends checking out each other’s hairstyles. It was all very exciting and fun! Then I moved and things changed. Things like my skin color, the texture of my hair and my accent became more emphasized in my new environment. I first moved to Asia and started learning how to do my own hair because there were no black salons where I could do my hair. I also learnt to make homemade hair products. Eventually when I loved to Canada, I started getting into natural hair products even more and started looking for a community where I could have face to face interactions and discussions about natural hair. I waited for a while hoping to see if anything was available or if something would start. Eventually in 2014 I decided to start a group called Nappy Roots and we would have meet ups where we would all hang out and catch up. Sometimes our conversations would go so late that the restaurant would be closing up and we would still be there chatting away! We would have the social aspects which involved eating out, going for a picnic and activities like bowling. But, we would also have educational sessions where we would discuss and learn how to actual do your natural hair. Nappy Roots became the foundation to what is now the Edmonton Natural Hair show. Everyone in Nappy Roots wouldn’t always be able to make it for every event but our conversations were always so intriguing, educational and inspiring and I realized that there is something being birthed here and this was information that other people within Edmonton (and even beyond) need to hear! So we decided to bring it to a larger audience and engage a larger community of people to take the conversation to a greater scale.
There were over 20 different vendors present for Edmonton Natural hair show 2019. I was fortunate to go around to a few of them and see all the amazing products and services being advertised. The great thing about this event is that it doesn’t just cater to natural hair but there were also vendors on body care, health & fitness, creative arts and even financial literacy! Moreover, it fosters an environment that is inclusive and aims to engage various demographics. I spoke to Crystal who has been a vendor multiple times at the previous hair shows. This shows the community being fostered and how people keep coming back, which clearly shows that this is filling an important space within the hair market.
Here are some of the other vendors I saw at the hair show.
As you stated when you first started it was difficult to see other people doing what you were doing so how were you able to get all the different vendors involved?
That is one of the things I really like about the Edmonton Hair show. Everyone can participate and get involved. I wanted to focus on natural air but also welcome other people into the space. The vendor aspect of the hair show really gives people of different backgrounds and experiences a chance to be a part of the community and to be able to learn and participate in the process. A lot of people get involved through word of mouth recommendation. They hear about our event, they attend then reach out to us to collaborate on future events. Information for getting involved are on our website. Also, our social media team which is comprised mainly of volunteers are great at reaching out to potential collaborators. Honestly, it means a lot to me to see all the vendors that work with us every year because I know the hard work and time it requires. As a mum myself, I know a lot of the other vendors are also parents and they have orders coming in which they have to send out to their customers as well as staying up to prepare for the hair show, so it definitely makes me happy when they are able to promote their services, sell their products and grow their business.
What would you say is your vision for the Edmonton Natural Hair show in years to come?
I want the hair show to put natural hair on the map in Western Canada and across the Canada. Usually events like these start from the East Coast down to West Coast but we want the wave of change to flow from our end so that people from places like Manitoba would want to be a part of the show and part of this movement. Ultimately, we want a bigger and better environment for those that want to become stylists in the natural hair community so they can be educated, and for those with natural hair to have easier access to a wider range of products. It starts from interacting and networking at events like these where both the participants involved in the show as well as guests that are attending are all able to learn from each other. I hope to bring educational resources to the general public, to professionals,to stylists as well as parents of young children with natural hair.
How would you describe your own natural hair journey?
I spent my junior high, high school and university years in Canada. The summer I graduated from high school while preparing for university, I decided to chop off my hair.I had my hair relaxed. When I was in Nigeria my hair was relaxed but moving to Canada for junior high and high school the pressure to fit in caused me to apply relaxing cream to my hair. After high school I questioned myself and couldn’t see the benefit of continuing to relax my hair. Especially because I had been into sports in high school. I was involved with football/soccer, running and having relaxed hair was quite restrictive due to its high maintenance. I like having water on my hair and relaxed hair didn’t allow me to do that because I wouldn’t want to wash out the perm/relaxer. Moreover, my hair had more volume and length when it was natural compared to when it was relaxed and I just liked how it felt much better. So I decided to cut it off and rocked a low cut entering my first year of university. And I have never looked back! But, I am also not married to my hair, It’s just hair, you cut it, it grows back. I am open to chopping it off and doing whatever. Moving here I wanted a community that was like minded in our love for natural hair, sort of like a sisterhood. That is what Nappy Roots became. It was a place where we meet up, discuss natural hair products and styles. But also discussing and sharing ideas on real life issues and personal challenges and celebrations. It’s more than just hair.
If you are looking to connect to this natural hair community and get involved, feel free to connect with Osas and her awesome team on Instagram and Facebook . Also, if you would like to get involved in next year’s hair show contact the team ASAP as they start preparations by August 2019.
As someone who is a bit of a novice in the natural hair area, I felt empowered to be surrounded by all the various activities and information sessions that were going on. As well as the vendors there were also several shows within the actual show where local designers and hairstylists could showcase their recent work in a fashion show as well as a hair show.
My personal favorite was the panel discussion at the end where members of the audience could ask questions. The diversity in the panel clearly reflects the diversity of the demographic and attendees as we had women as well as men talking about their natural hair journey. Various elegant questions were raised such as how do you manage natural hair in a professional setting and how to take care of natural hair for those with young children. My take home message from the panel discussion was when one of the panelists stated that it is very important for each individual to ‘take pride in who you are and educate yourself on your hair.’
I personally loved the atmosphere created which seemed to emphasis personal development. If there is any area you feel you need to work on there is always help available for you!
Until next year, ENHS2019 was an amazing, educative and utterly inspiring experience!