First Northwestern Black Hair Expo showcases vendors, product samples


Brian Meng/Daily Senior Staffer

Students line up to receive samples at the Black Hair Expo. The event was held Sunday in Louis Room and showcased vendor booths and free hair care products.

Marissa Martinez, Print Managing Editor

Around 50 people came to Northwestern’s first Black Hair Expo this Sunday. Held in the Louis Room in Norris, vendors set up booths and tables with samples of hair care products made for black hair.

The event ran from 3-5 p.m. and was sponsored by Impact at NU, a black Christian organization. One of its main goals was to support fellow students, said Cameryn Farrow, an organizer of the event.

The Weinberg junior said it can be difficult to find salons that cater specifically to black hair around campus. Even of the “gems” students can find in Evanston, she said, it’s hard to know what to trust, and that prices can generally be expensive. This is one of the reasons Impact wanted to hold the expo.

“We thought one thing that should be consistent within the black community, regardless of your gender identity or anything, is your hair,” Farrow said. “We want to create an opportunity for people to learn about nearby hair salons, barbers, as well as product lines, and also give them an opportunity to learn about Impact.”

Imani Minor, a Weinberg sophomore, came up with the idea after talking with her brother, who attends the University of Notre Dame, where a similar expo was held. In addition, she said she is part of a psychology lab that studied black hair and its importance in young women’s lives.

Minor said she usually goes to Howard Beauty Supply in south Evanston to get products. However, the process of reaching out to local businesses made her realize there were salons across the city catering to black hair. While black students often use group chats or online forums to share advice and recommendations, Minor said sometimes those spaces don’t hold all the answers.

McCormick junior Lawan Aladefa heard about the expo through mutual friends and the Facebook event. He picked up new products to try out and got information from booths like Studio SLK and Curls and Company — places he had never visited because he does his hair by himself.

He said it was hard to name the potential options for black students to go to in Evanston, partially because the businesses are underpublicized, which is why exposure is so crucial. He said in the future, it would also be nice to show examples a little farther out, in nearby places like Rogers Park or Skokie. However, he did learn about new stores and salons to potentially visit in the future.

“Knowing that there’s places that I could go if I wanted, say, if I got a big interview, and I want to make sure that fade’s icy, get those curls right,” Aladefa said. “It would mean I know there are places around I could go to.”

Aladefa also said the lack of publicity and knowledge about products and businesses who specialize in black hair made the event necessary.

“It’s good to have an event like this where you can know there’s some relatively close by,” Aladefa said. “Just to let people know these resources are available because this is a facet of black/POC culture. If other people can have easy access, we should be able to, at the very least, know.”

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