This past Saturday I attended the NuSol Natural Hair and Beauty Expo at the Durham Convention Center. This was the first NuSol event, and the purpose was “to encourage a healthy hair, healthy lifestyle and natural living” for all attendees. I was there along with my cousin Sharonda and Ashley of Curly Cubaminican, and we all purchased VIP tickets for $25. The ticket was to include a gift bag, free access to seminars, and access to the A-list Lounge with refreshments all day long.
We were able to find parking right across from the venue for just $2 all day, which was nice. As we walked up there was a small line to check in, but the line seemed to move along quickly. However, as we checked in we found out that there were no more gift bags. I didn’t feel the love at that moment. As an event coordinator, that is something that should never happen. Needless to say, that set the tone for the day.
We decided to check out the A-List Lounge to get some refreshments. Again, what was advertised was not what was provided. The website stated “Refreshments, Beverages, Hors D’oeuvres, Pastries, & Desserts” would be provided, but there was just fresh fruit and cheese, water and iced tea most of the day. When we left for the night which was around 9pm, they did bring out buffalo wings. One thing they did have that was not advertised but was a nice touch was free chair massages.
There were lots of vendors to shop with, with everything from jewelry to hair care products to bath products, and more. Just what you would expect at a natural hair and beauty expo. I was concerned that there was a vendor selling what appeared to be fake MAC cosmetics, considering that MAC does use independent sales representatives. I noticed that there were a lot of local hair care product companies that exhibited, while no major retailers were represented. For some that’s a pro, but for others that may be a con. I was happy to see some familiar faces, like Todd Parsons with his amazing jewelry, and Brown Sugar Naturals (pictured above) with their artisan soaps and body products.
Unfortunately, all the seminars were full by 10am, so we did not get to attend any of the seminars that were included in our VIP admission. We were able to meet some of the speakers, like author Margaret Brunson and actress Nevaina Rhodes. I did enjoy one of the hair show segments while there, as well as the performances by Christopher Terrell and Lisa McClendon (pictured above). They lit up the stage with their live band, which I’m always a huge fan of. Before Leela James came onstage, there was a wine tasting for VIP guests. It was more like a wine sipping; again, just less VIP ‘feeling’ than I expected since I’ve done several wine tasting before.
Finally, Leela James spoke to the audience about her natural hair journey and her image in the music industry, and how we should embrace all beauty. She engaged the audience, even asking us questions as to why we decided to transition to natural hair. Towards the end she kinda went off on a preachy tangent, and then it was time for her live performance. She sang one song, and headed off the stage. Just as I was feeling yet again disappointed, they allowed her to sing a few more songs.
All and all, I think this event had the bones of a great natural hair expo. Had i just purchased a general admission ticket, I would haven been very happy. If you were willing and able to spend all day and night at the event, there was plenty to do, see, and buy. But being that I purchased a VIP ticket, I had higher expectations about my experience based on what they stated would be provided and the event just didn’t live up to the hype. Hopefully the hiccups that I experienced were just oversights due to inexperience since this was there first event, and they will find fixes for those things in the future.