self love, self love, self love.

i’m back documenting the work of more black women doing bits. two weeks ago i attended the Naturally Crowned event curated by Bonnie Lush Hair and My Ebony Box. it was glorious. i enjoyed the company of black women in birmingham interested in developing healthy self love habits and i made some friends. it was also an opportunity for me to read poetry fresh from the manuscript and i can’t wait to read from these pages more more more.

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the day was very much focused on sistahood and self-celebration and collective praise.  i think this is why it felt great to be able to read my poems in a space dedicated to black women. it wasn’t about performing, it wasn’t about me questioning ‘will my work be understood’- we were all allowed to just be.

The Founder of Bonnie Lush Hair – Sherine– hosted the event and set the tone of the event by training us up with the motto of the day:

self-love is … self care.

and what better way to start.

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so it begins | Persona, one of the amazing vendors. 

Course of the day

We began the day with a presentation of the history of the main subject of the day: our har. it felt good to be in a place where the foundation of the day was traced back to how our ancestors cared for their hair, what kinds of struggles they faced for doing so, what science, history and archaeology has to say about black hair.

this was followed by poetry by me. reading from my manuscript felt easy. i haven’t felt so honest with my words in a long time. i didn’t perform, i just spoke and i wasn’t waiting for clicks or validation, just a space to story-tell amongst those who would not fight to understand. i spoke to a few people after who told me about the parts of the poetry  i didn’t even realise people would notice.

we then had a panel event with hair stylists and influencers from all backgrounds (natural hair, locs, weaves and wigs as protective styles etc). it was beautiful to have open and honest discussions about what it means to be a black woman in birmingham in need of a hair salon, what we must expect, how we can decenter London as the standard of black hair in the UK, why we should never compromise on our hair health- natural or relaxed. i even appreciated the lighter aspects of the panel, like how to deal with haircare when outside the UK and asking the panelists to admit the longest you have left in a protective style.

Nadine from Bourn Beautiful Naturals gave us energy and excitement with a live demonstration. she made a conditioner from scratch in 20 minutes. Nadine (whose presence is commanding and African American Womaness is a delight) talked us through the steps and explained exactly why you cannot make a conditioner based purely out of what is in your fridge no matter how natural and Erykah Badu you are feeling (guilty).  it was such an easy process, i don’t think anybody left feeling intimidated by the process because it was made so doable.

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live in action

then came the networking break.

i met so many amazing women, came across some amazing brands and will storytell it all here with an encounters section:

Encounters

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beautiful | Nylah

an absolute Queen. i was already acquainted with the Nylah range since seeing Saabirah Lawrence’s Instagram post about it, so i was already wanting to have a conversation with Kameese, the founder. within the first 30 seconds of our conversation we were celebrating eachother – she understood what and who my poetry was talking up for and talking back to. Likewise, i was in awe of her brand and what it stood for (i especially love that the brand is named after Kameese’s daughter Nylah- so beautiful).  it’s so refreshing when black women owned businesses exist. it’s even better when they exist so honestly and beautifully. Definitely check out her products – they are 98% natural and all based off research of science, heritage and nature. I purchased the Super Botanicals, Ethiopian Crambe seed and Jojoba oil conditioner which I’ve recommended to everyone.

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Kameese and i

another beautiful meeting was with Carolyn and her daughter from Cherish Me. I adore so much about Cherish Me. I have a deep love for the empowerment of young black girls so when I saw journals and books dedicated to the upliftance of young black girls AND a mummy and daughter led business, i was joyful.

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more power | powerful women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them. 
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young black girl creative and entrepeneur | precious. i asked her to show me her favourite design, she chose this one.
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i adore these|i honestly think i will be gifting this to any  niece and cousin i can. you should too. shop here.

Posh Life Hair  have such an infectitous energy about them. This event was about self-love and this was the bougier corner of that piece of the event. the quality and luxury of protective styling knows no limits with Posh Life Hair UK. (head round to their instagram, their salon is based in the Jewellery Quarter in Birmingham)

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Empress | ‘Not here to play games’ vibes

These ladies right here have such a beautiful vibe about them. They were full of laughter and black girl joy and genuinely supported each other. I caught them off -guard because that’s the only way I like to take my pictures, but this truly captures their essence. Santana (blue hair, big smile) was a vendor as a self-taught Hairdresser (yes gyal) with SlayedBySantana.

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joy joy joy
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sometimes let your photo subjects pose and compose themselves Amara.

bauy fr 22this is Chrystal. Chrystal started talking to me like we already knew eachother and i knew i liked her immediately. we first started talking about the event, writing and poetry. after speaking about me and my blog and answering questions about how i started (i’ve never properly asked myself) i eventually found out that Chrystal is a blogger too. an amazing one. she giggled when i asked her what took her so long to big up her own platform in the conversation and she told me that she is trying to get better. (her blog has some already amazing content but she is a virgo and so she is a perfectionist so an impulsive aquarius is bigging her up here).

the networking break ended with noone wanting to return to their seats and separate from new friends. the conversation and discussion hosted by My Ebony Box was truly amazing. and worth the temporary separation.  here, we were encouraged to think about the social and political conversations surrounding black hair. discussion ranged from negative comparisons between Blue Ivy and North West, colourism, erasure of black features and overriding specific decisions around cultural dress and beauty in certain publications. i’ve had these conversations before, most of us have. it was special because it was an intergenerational discussion in the presence of elders and youngers who might not have had this exposure before. disagreement was not discouraged. Honesty was not discouraged. the main speaker and founder of My Ebony Box , Jen, not only is an empress, but managed to keep the conversation upful and encouraged us to talk out our disagreements in the discussion. this is the essence of My Ebony Box,the UK’s first lifestyle monthyl subscription box curated for Black Women. (Head round to the instagram for a look at the what the box consists of – beautiful jewellery amongst other black woman treats).

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Jen | just wow.

after this, Annika Spalding blessed the stage. this is the second mention of this phenomenal woman on this blog. i have beautiful memories of Annika from last summer when i was invited to be the official reviewer of her book launch. i briefly spoke to Annika in the break (i trod on a couple people’s toes and pushed and gracelessly manouvered to get my hug) where she told me that she nearly screamed when she heard me announce that i’ve written my first manuscript. i equally held in a scream when she announced that she was going to do the ‘dear inner child’ activity. i’ve done this before under Annika’s guidance and it is something that has helped me massively. this time, like last time, people were willing to share vulnerable life letters written only for themselves. one thing that really stood out to me this time was how well Annika articulated that sometimes we need to check into our inner child. to check how they are keeping. if they are okay because we can’t move forward until they do.

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we closed with some final remarks from Sherine who reminded us that the motto of the day  is self love is … self care. at this point, the motto rang through the room without us even having to open our mouths because we’d spent an entire day living in it. Sherine read a poem from her book ‘I Love Me, I Love My Hair’ and it spoke to all of us who have ever hid behind anything to cover ourselves up. We all felt FULL we didn’t need to say it because everyone had had an uplifting conversation with atleast one other woman in the room. we had spent our afternoon supporting Black Women and we had spent our money supporting Black Women Owned Businesses. the self-love levels were high and i spent the entire event proud to be a part of this gathering.

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A Queen named Sherine
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self love wall.

More encounters

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i had to go back and speak to Nadine about her work and her natural hair journey (that is all her hair btw, micro braided!). i also had to fangirl and admire up close. Nadine is also an academic, specialising in sociology which you really feel in how her treatment of self love is connected to her understanding of black womanhood in society.

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@zillionhaire reminding us how good black girls look with orange and yellow.

i’ve seen Zillionhaire at previous Natural Hair events so it was nice to meet up with her again. Zillionhaire is a platform dedicated to connecting you with your Afro-hair stylist in your area. check out the sale that is on here.

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lovely ladies (beautiful skin)

Utopia Cosmetix were also vendors at the event. their products smelt amazing. they had a wide selection of body butters and oils. The stall was so busy it was hard to get a chance to speak to them but I did eventually leave with this photograph and a hand smelling like the majority of their testers. You can find them online here. another beautifully souled vendor was Persona. i didn’t get  chance to document her but there was a lot of energy and buzz around her stall (and she has the most grounded nature about her). in the goodies bags we all received stones from her products. check out her range of chakra jewellery and natural crystals.

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this is Anita. Anita and i were only meant to stop for a picture and to discuss the writings we had both shared that afternoon. i ended up walking back with Yolanda. we spoke about so much from faith, to writing, to the inner child, growth and youtube. i am grateful that Naturally Crowned gathered me in a space where i could connect with so many inspiring black women. sometimes that is the reminder that you need sometimes.

whilst in conversation with Sherine after the event I asked her how she felt the event went:

“i am really overwhelmed with how today went, I think it went really well and i hope people got a lot of value from it”.  Sherine has literally been running around all day (and managed to stay looking sleek and beautiful) and in this moment it is great to offer her the opportunity to acknowledge how excellent the day has been. she goes on to talk about how it was a “collective effort”, how she enjoyed sharing her knowledge and enjoyed having knowledge fed back to her. we spoke about the power we could feel in the room.

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Sherine

Sherine’s favourite part of the day was the live conditioner tutorial and generally having empowering women in one room, encouraging one another to achieve goals. when i asked her where Bonnie Lush Hair will be going next, she told me that she’ll be pushing the boundaries this year. expect to see Bonnie Lush Hair in more salons and expect to see more Bonnie Lush Hair events in the community. some upcoming events include Gifted Girls on Saturday 17th March and  Bonnie Lush’s International Women’s Day Dinner on Friday 9th March.

thank you for reading what i write.

Amara Amaryah.

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