This Sunday, the Twin Cities Natural Hair & Beauty Expo is taking over Minneapolis with a day-long celebration of hair, beauty and self-care. Now in its second year, the event is shaping up to be one of the biggest natural hair events in the Midwest.
More than 1,000 attended the inaugural event and its founders Kelley Eubanks and Tephanie Delaney are expecting that number to double this year. The packed line-up includes workshops, hair and beauty demos and panel discussions with beauty experts and influencers from around the country including Azizah Nubia, founder of Natural Woman magazine, and celebrity hairstylist Monae Everett. There’s even a men’s cave dedicated to men’s beard and grooming needs, featuring Beard Game Matters founder Mike McMillan and Houston White, who is gaining prominence with his Black Excellence movement.
Hype Hair caught up with Kelley and Tephanie to talk about the growing natural hair movement in non-major cities and what it means to be part of it, along with their vision for creating their own Black hair mecca in Minnesota.
Hype Hair: Hi ladies! I’m so excited to be reconnecting with you in the Twin Cities. Last year’s event was very powerful and I see some new additions, this year. What are you most excited about?
Tephanie Delaney: I think I’m most excited about the people that are involved this year. We have people traveling from different places coming to Minneapolis — we have vendors from Chicago, Milwaukee, Iowa, St. Louis, New York. It’s really exciting that people are actually traveling to Minneapolis for Black hair culture, because this isn’t a market that’s a staple in Black hair culture.
HH: Speaking on Black hair culture in Minnesota. How do you see that changing in the Twin Cities?
Tephanie: I see us being in the limelight of one of the bigger, larger cities in terms of the natural hair movement. Minneapolis/St. Paul is really a great location [and] I see it growing and evolving into something major. People typically don’t see Minnesota as a place where there’s plenty of [people of] color. We’re letting people know, yes, we are here, too, and we rock and we stand as one! Minneapolis is not popping into mind unless someone mentions Prince. Well, we want to put it on the market to where when people say Minneapolis/St Paul, they think ‘oh, that place has a huge natural hair market.’
Kelley Eubanks: And, we would love to see some of the larger hair companies sponsoring us and giving us that support and [helping us] get that attention.
HH: What other changes are you seeing?
Kelley: I’m also seeing the momentum around self-care being increased and heightened, as well as the conversations about hair. I think people are taking the time to educate themselves on what they’re putting on their hair [and] paying attention to ingredients. It’s transcending not just to the hair, but to the body.
HH: Yes with self-care! What impact do you see the conference having on that discussion?
Tephanie: I think the impact will be huge. We have Aziza Nubia from Natural woman coming in and her story is very inspiring [about] made her become more aware of her health? And, I think with the people that are involved this year, it’s really going to raise consciousness and awareness around not just our hair, but our health and our whole soul … from different perspectives. It’s just awareness about what we’re doing to our bodies and [asking] are we properly taking care of ourselves [instead of] trying to keep up with the trends and Jones’ and the different movements.
Kelley: I think it’s so fun when you come to the event and everybody’s at different levels and everybody starts to understand that no two curls are alike. So, it’s an opportunity to just kind of showcase together that we’re good whatever stage we’re at. I also think this show really gets to model and showcase what it’s like here in Minnesota to have a huge collaborative effort around self-care, around the hair [and how] it just kind of a trickles down into every other aspect of our being.
HH: You also are incorporating a men’s component. What inspired that?
Tephanie: African American men are starting to embrace their beards, more. They’re starting to embrace their natural textures. The days of the texturizer and putting all the pomade in the hair are starting to fade because what they’re realizing is they are fly just the way they are.
Kelley: There’s a strong movement with the brothers and caring for the beards, the more advanced styling for hair with their twists and that type of thing. Sisterhood is what we know – and we know we’re strong and we’re trying to uplift women to embrace themselves their whole selves and their hair. But, actually being able to come together around hair [with both] the men and the women is phenomenal.
HH: We heard Mike McMillan, Beard Game Matters founder, will also be joining the men’s cave! His Facebook has become the ultimate thirst trap for women who love men with beards.
Tephanie: Of course! It was a platform for men of color to be celebrated with their beards, but it grew into something, you know, so much bigger and it’s going continue to evolve and we wanted him here on our stage to say ‘where is this beard movement going? Why did you feel like the beard game matters?
HH: What is the major takeaway in celebrating natural hair?
Kelley: My biggest thing is to dispel the myths that our hair is bad hair. I really want everyone that walks through the door to know that good hair is healthy hair.
Tephanie: It’s just about just coming together and embracing everything about our culture, our heritage, our hair, our different looks, our diverse ethnicity. It’s just coming together in solidarity on one accord.
Kelley: And having fun doing it!
The Twin Cities Natural Hair & Beauty Expo takes place Sunday, August 12, 11am to 5pm at the Graduate Hotel in Minneapolis. For more information, visit mnnaturalhairexpo.com.