The 3rd addition of the Natural Hair Academy in Paris took place on March 15th and we were there ready to be inspired, learn and meet world known hair experts within the natural hair space. This was our first time attending this event, which was held at the beautiful and spacious venue, “Le Tapis Rouge”.
NHA Paris attracted more than 1,000 attendees this year, and honestly we’ve both never seen so many beautiful naturalistas and that much amazing hair at the same time! The variety of hairstyles was truly impressive, we saw ladies with twist outs, braid outs, box braids, big afro’s, teeny weeny afro’s, bantu knots, locks, finger coiled curls and much more.
The ambiance was great, the event organisers and staff we’re all really friendly and engaged, and the mood throughout the day was positive and buzzing with excitement. You could definitely feel that people we’re thrilled to be there, and ready to learn more about natural hair. For us this was the biggest achievement of the event that it managed to create a safe and encouraging environment to learn about our hair regardless of length, curl pattern, style. It really emphasized the self-expression aspect of natural hair, which to us is very much about embracing all parts of yourself, which is really empowering.
Our morning started out with Felicia Leatherwood’s session, a well-known celebrity hair stylist and natural hair expert from LA. She is also widely known as the “natural hair guru”, and that she is indeed! Felicia started out her session with explaining the importance of knowing your hair and to find out your hair type. By knowing your hair type, you will also know what kind of products your hair needs and how to take care of your hair the best way. These details will also help you set realistic goals in your hair journey, to drive home her point Felicia said: “Don’t expect your hair to look like Tracee Ellis Ross if you don’t have Tracee Ellis Ross hair”. By the end of her session, she showed us three beautiful and practical hair styles that could easily be recreated at home. Her parting thoughts we’re: “We all have beautiful hair; you’ve got to play with it”. Overall Felicia delivered her session with a lot of enthusiasm, dropped some serious hair wisdom on us and left us with practical tips to try at home – needless to say we thoroughly enjoyed her seminar.
Our second session was with Ken Burkeen, the founder and CEO of the Huetifulbrand (steamer and salons). His seminar was (not surprisingly) designed to teach us about the importance of hydrating your hair. Mr Burkeen took us through a step by step approach by presenting Huetiful’s methodology to achieving healthy hair. He took us through some really specific details around the makeup of hair such as PH levels, hair porosity, heat damage and explained the difference between hydration vs moisture. His presentation was really seamless and gave a full picture of how we need to maintain our hair for optimal health and growth. This was a very educational session. We both came out feeling that we knew a lot more about the “science” behind our hair then before.
In the afternoon we attended The Monroe sisters’s (Vaughn & Meechy) session. These really impressive and beautiful sisters from Chicago are well known vloggers that cover natural hair and fashion on their channels. They have an incredible vibe and strong presence, hence their connection with the audience was immediate! Their session was good and covered the basics on hair care. However, we would have liked to see them elaborate more on the subject of natural hair as we know they must have much more self-taught knowledge on stock. It was still great to see them live in action with their awesome personalities – hope to see more of them next year!
We we’re also lucky enough to meet the founder of Carol’s Daughter, Lisa Price, an incredible entrepreneur and visionary with a track record of global success with her brand. She quickly shared the story of how she started her business, first with body & skin care and then later to include hair care. Her products were also for sale and we both bought her shampoo, “Cupuacu”, an anti-frizz smoothing shampoo. Hanna tried it last week and she absolutely loved it. We managed to grab Lisa for a quick photo on the sales floor, this is the closest we both have ever been to anyone that’s been featured on the Oprah show, just a tad star struck :)
The last session of the day was with Taren Guy – Founder of “Luv and Learn Your Hair” Tour (LLYH) and a popular natural hair vlogger from New York. This session was exclusive (only 200 lucky participants got selected). Taren came in with a lot of positive energy and shared her very personal hair story of growing up with an unruly head of hair, and her Swedish grandmother who had no idea how to care for it. Being Swedish ourselves we could really picture her poor Swedish grandmother having to tame a wild afro while not knowing where to start J. She is one of the most widely known natural hair vloggers out there today that has inspired many naturalistas to go all the way out and wear their hair big and fluffy. We loved when she said “pick your hair out from the roots to make the hair bigger”. Amen to that!
Overall, her session was kind of short and the time didn’t allow for any depth in the conversation about natural hair, which is again a shame as she probably had a lot of goodies she could have shared with us.
We unfortunately missed Clarisse Libene’s session, founder of BelleBene and co-founder of the NHA, we also didn’t make it for the Phytospecific hair diagnostics workshop as it was really popular with long lines all day. We did however make time to stroll around the exhibition/sales are and we’re impressed with the variety of French and other global brands and products on display.
Not only did we learn lots about hair but we also had the chance to meet and mingle with many fabulous naturalistas and entrepreneurs, such as Angie Brice pictured here with us, she’s the founder of “The Hairoine”, a handmade natural hair and skin care line.
The day was really great but also quite long, we we’re there from 9.30am until 8.30pm and our ability to concentrate failed a bit towards the end. However, we both really enjoyed this very inspirational, professional and eventful day.
We want to give a big shout-out to the NHA for putting together such a successful event, and for putting the growing European naturalista community on the map.
We look forward to the next chapter of the NHA.
Hanna & Ruthie