Natural Hair Show Helps Fund Austin Garden

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Loving the kinks, curls or volume-less hair means embracing your birth-given locks and exhorting confidence wherever you go.

That was the message at the recent “Naturally Walking Hair and Fashion Show” at the Ed Bailey and Leola Spann Community Garden on the West Side. Proceeds went towards planting and harvesting vegetables for the Austin community.

Stacia Crawford, co-founder of the Sankofa Cultural Arts Center, told the Defender, “It was really just about having that confidence, having the self esteem and just being comfortable in whatever you have. If you have kinky hair, if you have curly hair, if you have straight hair, it doesn’t matter, just appreciate it and love it because it’s your’s.”

Fusing the African inspired fashions with the natural hair styles created both a positive and sizzling atmosphere for audience members. The onlookers cheered, whistled and snapped photos of each of the models as they walked down the runway.

Creator and event coordinator, Julissa Marie, owner of J’Marie Photography, worked closely with the Sankofa Cultural Arts Center to put together the event. The event’s promotion through social media proved it more than a success.

Enitra Reynolds actually learned about the hair and fashion show through a Facebook friend and truly enjoyed herself.

“I haven’t had a relaxer in about four years,” said Reynolds.

“I see a lot of styles that I love and I’ve been asking the females questions on how they do their hair and where do they go to get their hair done; if they do it themselves, what kind of products [do they use] because I’ve gone through so many,” she said.

The models ranged in age from children to adults and showcased numerous hairstyles each model did herself. There were afros, flat twists, curls, braids and more. Each model transformed her hair from simple to stylish by adding vibrant accessories such as bows and flowers. Others coordinated their shoes with their handbags or earrings to make to the casual day look or evening look pop.

Reaching the community in a positive way is what Malcolm and Stacia Crawford pride themselves in doing. Educational outreach is crucial and Stacia saw a need for workshops for women on managing natural hair.

“We normally do natural hair meetups at the Sankofa Cultural Center,” Crawford said. “More black women are embracing their natural hair and we found that a lot of them get to a certain point and then they don’t know what to do with it.”

Since the show wasn’t just about the hair, some of the models wore African inspired attire by Akese Stylelines.

“We decided to incorporate the fashions into it as well because we also wanted to show that just because you’re wearing African inspired attire, doesn’t mean that you can’t be fashionable and stylish,” said Crawford.

Akese Stylelines was created by fashion designer Jennifer Akese Burney.

“We Black women, we adore our hair, we adore our clothes, our fabrics so I tried to incorporate that into the clothing,” said Burney.

Originally from Ghana, Burney moved to the United States a little over a year ago to broaden her business options. This show was her first big event and allowed her to showcase her work.

“These prints have been there for ages,” Burney said, referring to the custom African prints, “but I tried to put some modern styles on the fashion so that it pops.

Having the hair and fashion show in the garden was important because proceeds went towards the $5,000 goal.

The chairman of the board for Sankofa is Malcolm Crawford who grew up in the neighborhood and it was his idea to dedicate the garden to activists who helped the community.

Mrs. Crawford said, “It is going to be a vegetable garden and that’s because Austin is a food desert. One of the things people say is that black kids don’t eat vegetables, but that’s not true.”

They plan to teach the children how to take care of the garden and offer them cooking classes at the center. “We will have cooking classes where chefs will partner with us to teach these kids how to make healthy nutritious meals from the foods that they planted,” she said.

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