There is a great deal of confusion among college students relative to hairstyles for career interviews. Many feel that their options will be limited if they wear natural styles. That's why I initiated the NATURAL AND PROFESSIONAL college meet-ups to encourage college students that natural hair is professional!
For the very first college meet-up, I invited my hairstylist, Aeleise Harris of @hairloveart to make a presentation at Howard University. It took a little research, but I found the natural hair club on campus called T.A.N.G.L.E.S.HU and contacted their president. She was thrilled at the opportunity to have us come to discuss the realities of natural hair. While I have many opinions on the topic, I know that the product selection that I use for my hair is designed just for me, not everyone else. The reason that I invited Aeleise is her vast knowledge and professional experience with textured hair. The HU Bison audience was an outstanding group that arrived with diverse hairstyles and concerns. Creating lovely hairstyles, rethinking product selections, planning regular trims, and protective styles were the hot topics. Aeleise gave everyone food for thought as she styled a volunteer's hair that was previously deemed out of control. We had a wonderful time in Washington, DC and we would love to visit again soon!
What hairstyles are considered natural and how do I know?
Chicago's weather is never predictable and the night of our event was cold and very dangerous for drivers and pedestrians. But the thought of learning about what to expect from corporate interviews and how to manage natural hair was enough to weather the snowstorm for a large group of DePaul University students. Christine Augustin, president of the natural hair group, Roots2Ends, worked with me to create a wonderful evening for all involved.
As I prepared for this meet-up, I re-evaluated the questions received during the Howard University event. I recognized the need for students to feel attractive with their healthy natural hair. I also remembered that they had to be prepared to interview with confidence. So I added a panel of speakers who work in various careers who also were their hair in natural styles.
This turned out to be a perfect combination of the mission of NATURAL AND PROFESSIONAL. The speakers work in public relations, non-profit, forensic science, and communications. Aishia Strickland of @chocolatecurlsbeauty and @iamblackgirlcurls was the textured hair expert who shared her knowledge with a smile. The panel shared their personal experiences with natural hair in the corporate environment. Aishia advised on getting a great cut and strategies for hair maintenance. The product sponsor for this event was Creme of Nature and a great time was had by all!
Would you really want to work for someone who makes you feel unwelcome with your natural hair?
This was a wonderful event to plan and execute. Having the experience from Howard and DePaul gave me a clear idea about what was necessary to create an even better event for the Illini audience. Each week for 2 months, I planned with Cameron to develop a program that would be the biggest meet-up of all. The selection of panelists included an attorney who works for the UIUC in the Office of Inclusion, a chef who is a TV and radio spokesperson for Butterball Turkeys, a public relations expert, and a local elected official. All of the speakers had stories to share and advice to give. This product sponsor for this event was CurlMix - a company founded by two Illini alumni. The difference with this event was the promotional support provided by the Vince Cullers Group. We were interviewed by WILL-AM radio as well as WICS-TV and WCIA-TV. The event was promoted in the Springfield-Champaign-Decatur ADI before during and after the presentation. Students filled the Bruce Nesbit African American Cultural Center as I was being interviewed by a local TV reporter. As supporters of The CROWN Act, we started an excellent discussion about support for the elimination of discrimination based on hair. This was an important topic with an encouraging description of the State of Illinois' plans offered by Champaign County Board Member Titianna Ammons. The attendance at this event was a combination of promotion on and off-campus and collaboration with DiverseCurlz, theKatWalk and our Brand Ambassador, Cameron Wilcher!
This event felt like going back to college, but this time I was actually in charge!
We love getting together, but our world has just experienced a drastic change. So we found a new way to get together to talk about natural hair! My career promotes hair care and confidence. My cousin Martha Howard is a natural hair expert and curly hairstylist. Together we will lead you on a new journey to excellence!