"Afros at the Masquerade” is Here!
BY: ASHLEY YANCEY
PHOTOS COURTESY OF RASTAFRI | AFROLICIOUS
At the end of October, Afrolicious Natural Hair and Beauty Expo 2019—one of the West Coast’s largest natural hair expos—will descend on Los Angeles, bringing the latest hair care products, styling techniques, and beauty demonstrations to help celebrate this year’s theme, “Afros at the Masquerade.”
Sponsored by RastAfri, one of America’s leading braiding-hair companies, Afrolicious will feature live natural hair demonstrations, a Little Miss Afrolicious Pageant to celebrate little brown girls, a natural hair panel, swag bags, and dozens of African American business vendors that will offer African clothing, jewelry, soaps, art, hair care products and so much more.
“The overall goal is to celebrate black women’s natural hair and beauty all over the world, which corresponds with RastAfri’s goal as we celebrate beauty in every walk of life,” said Rhonda Ray, the creator of the annual expo. “[The acceptance of natural hair] means a lot. It lets us know that going back to our natural roots is not just a trend but is becoming a standard of beauty.” This message is especially timely due to the passing of the CROWN (Create a Respectful and Open Workplace for Natural Hair) Act, California’s new law prohibiting discrimination based on hairstyle and texture. Sponsored by California State Senator Holly Mitchell, the law has recently expanded into New York and is the first of its kind to provide personal hair-grooming protection for African Americans.
In addition, RastAfri will provide their own live hair demonstrations, a $1500 cash prize hair braiding competition, braiding-hair giveaways, hundreds of product giveaways, and networking opportunities with brand ambassadors to inspire future collaborations.
“Attendees can expect to experience RastAfri in a new way… learn proper installations of natural hairstyles, the variety of natural hair products that RastAfri offers, and experience new products before they are available in beauty supply stores,” revealed Sherrell Jackson, Creative Director of RastAfri, the main sponsor of the event since 2018, and who is hosting this year’s “Futuristic Avant-Garde” themed braiding competition. “The possibilities are endless!”
Now in its sixth year, LA-based Afrolicious has quickly expanded, and the traveling hair show touts five additional cities on its tour lineup, including Oakland, Houston, Dallas, Chicago and Atlanta. “I decided to take a leap of faith and add one city a year. I was lucky in the beginning to have friends who owned companies like Kinky Curly and Mixed Chicks to sponsor,” shared Ray, when reflecting on the early days of building Afrolicious into the traveling hair show it has become. This year, at least twenty health, beauty, and hair brands will be represented on the showroom floor.
While each year comes with its share of highlights, one in particular stands out the most to both Ray and Jackson. “The LA Wakanda hair competition in 2018 was lit! The stylists showed their amazing talents by recreating [styles inspired by] the movie Black Panther – a phenomenon,” gushed Jackson. Ray agrees. “When the African drum and dance team @bandankara did the opening drum welcome in Dallas for the Wakanda theme, it was AMAZING.”
When considering what the future holds for the show, Ray is prepared to go big. “I hope for Afrolicious to be a household name and the ‘go-to’ for the natural hair community and their families when we come to their town. I see us filling [the] convention center floors with naturals in many cities to come,” Jackson quickly added, “Five years from now, Afrolicious will be the biggest and most sought-after West Coast hair show!”
The Expo is Sunday, October 27, 2019, at the Los Angeles Convention Center from 11 am-5 pm. Tickets are available on Eventbrite.com. Proceeds from the expo benefit the local My Friends House Foundation, a nonprofit for the homeless. 2019 co-sponsors include Eden Body Works, Kanekalon, Ajaa Naturals, Bronner Brothers, Aunt Jackie’s, and Curls among a host of others.