My bald patch led to a thriving UK natural hair community
It’s funny how a personal choice has made such a difference not only to my own life, but many other people’s as well. It was two years ago that I decided to stop relaxing my hair. The small coin sized bald patch on my head seemed to grow every time I got my relaxer and the hair on my temples was slowly disappearing.
I was so scared that eventually I would lose all my hair, I quickly put my hair in braids- I had no idea what I was going to do after that. I decided to research on the internet to find out why I was losing my hair and started to unearth lots of information on the dangers of relaxers. It is sad to say, that I had been completely ignorant to them beforehand.
So at present please never mistake me for being anti-relaxer, it is a choice. I just want people to be clear about what they are doing to themselves before they make that choice, like smokers are warned on the pack before they have a cigarette.
I also came across a wealth of information on how to take care of your hair naturally. There were blogs galore and I subscribed to several of them plus lots of channels on YouTube. I also read every book I could get my hands on. The natural hair world had me; I was in love with the styles and beauty of everyone else’s curly hair. I took my braids out in January 2010 then I also I fell in love with my own.
There was only one small problem. All of the online information on natural hair was from American websites. They would rave about products and events that we just couldn’t get over here in the UK. I was starting to feel frustrated when I searched on Google for UK natural hair events, or UK natural hair products and I wasn’t finding anything. It was out of this frustration that I decided to start The Natural Lounge.
It is a blog all about natural afro textured hair. I was already a blogger so it was easy to create a site where I talked about this topic. I decided to stay away from just talking about my hair journey as it was important for me to create a resource for UK women who wanted to care for their own hair.
Once The Natural Lounge was created with lots of subscribers, the next and most important step was to host an event just like they were having in the US. As a PA I have organised lots of events in the past, I was also part of a team for three years which organised a conference dedicated to black women and their beauty, so I was not daunted by the task.
I think the only mistake I made was underestimating just how many women would want to attend. I booked a venue for 150 women but tickets sold out within the first two weeks and I was left with a huge waiting list.
The event took place on October 2 2010. It was one of the first of its kind over here, attracting women from all corners of the UK. I had a packed agenda with hair care advice, live singing, book readings and also a nice goody bag with products that I had reviewed inside. I am proud to say that my event was the only one last year and now this year there are many. I like to think I started something. The next event is on October 8 this year and I hope many of you reading will be able to come.
Today The Natural Lounge contains product reviews on products you can buy here in the UK, I talk about issues that affect us and I profile UK natural women. There is also a salon directory and I have links to books, resources and events. The blog is complemented by a Facebook group of the same name that I created, which is very active.
I love the fact that it attracts women worldwide to share and discuss natural hair issues. I have appeared on the radio and in a couple of magazines and I have also been a panellist at another natural event. It’s not always easy; sometimes I just do not have the time or inspiration to write something. However, I like to take each day as it comes.
I once went to an event and a lady said: “Being natural is not a destination, it’s a journey.” I’d like to say, I am thoroughly loving mine. It started from a bald patch in the mirror to creating a community for black women interested in taking care of their natural hair. What a gift!