At the 2019 Fabulously Unique (FABU) Natural Hair and Beauty Expo, black women could be seen with their heads held high rocking afros, twist outs, dreads and more.
The expo, which took place Saturday [Sept.29] at the Florida Center located on Florida State Grounds, was started in 2009 by Rochelle Graham-Campbell, the co-founder and CEO of the hair care brand, Alikay Naturals. This is the 5th time the event has been held, having a break from 2012 to 2017. Graham-Campbell, who is also a natural hair influencer with her YouTube following of over 113K, brought the expo back last year because of high demand. She wanted to spread her knowledge of natural beauty and being an influencer to the Tampa Bay Area.
“Whatever I learn I feel the need to pass the knowledge on to someone else and to make their journey easier,” Graham-Campbell says.
Marilyn Shaw, 31, is the event planner for FABU and helped Graham-Campbell plan the event every step of the way. She mentioned that the process of planning this expo can take almost a year. Shaw says they wanted to make sure this event is something people will love. One way is reaching out to attendees from last year and asking them who they wanted to see back for next year’s expo and if there were any other new faces they wanted to meet.
FABU had over 50 vendors, including CURLS Dynasty and EDEN Bodyworks, natural beauty workshops, and live entertainment. Shaw reported that over 1600 people had come out to the event.
The main stage consisted of panels and a live performance by Shyanne Roberts, a member of the girl group June’s Diary. The group was put together by Kelly Rowland on the BET show “Chasing Destiny”. Roberts performed Beyoncé’s “Before I Let Go” and Sydney Rey’s “Into You”. During her performance, people were singing along and dancing to the music.
Also, on the main stage was an influencer panel, with Graham-Campbell and other natural hair influencers such as Bria Larine, and Ande J. They spoke about the business side of YouTube, how to gain an audience and how to work and still be an influencer.
Charity Lewis, 26, is a natural hair influencer with an Instagram following of over 12K. She says she’s learned a lot from the influencer panel and was able to make connections at the event.
Lewis told RoyalTee this event is great for women who are deciding to change from relaxed hair to natural hair.
“You get to see that there is nothing wrong with natural hair and having kinks and curls,” Lewis said.
Trina Martin, 50, has a passion for makeup and fashion wearing blue lipstick and green eyeliner to the expo, but she is still nervous when it comes to her natural hair. She thought it took too much effort to maintain, so she usually wore her hair in crochet dreads and weaves. After learning some tips at the expo she voiced how she wants to start wearing her own natural hair.
“I came here to see if I can take care of my own natural hair and all these women with their beautiful hair have inspired me,” Martin said.
Shaw understands that natural hair is more than just outward beauty, but a community.
“Hair gets you in the door, but women get empowered and gain a sense of pride when they see other women wearing their natural hair,” Shaw said. “We can lift each other up at FABU.”
Brittany Wallace is an entertainment journalist who loves writing about music, fashion and T.V. shows in a fun but an analytical way. She hopes to write stories that have a positive impact on society. Wallace is a recent graduate from the University of Florida earning a Bachelor of Science degree in Journalism.