So yesterday I attended the Natural Aristocratic Tea put together by Jennifer Lord of Natural Hollywood and Sabine Bellevue of Sabine’s Hallway Natural Hair Salon! I actually was supposed to stay indoors and get my life this weekend, but had already failed by socializing on Saturday so I figured doing so again on Sunday couldn’t do more damage. Here’s a recap of the event!
The Natural Aristocratic Tea was a Natural Hair Art Exhibit, Fashion Show, and Tea Party held at The Restoration Plaza in Brooklyn. When I arrived, a band was playing jazzy tunes to warm up the atmosphere of the outdoor tent where the event was taking place. Once I checked in, I was handed a flower and allowed to have a seat and get ready for tea! Once seated, I took in the atmosphere and was overwhelmed with all the pretty dresses, the eloquent hats and fascinators, and even the gloves and other accessories that made my Easter-dress outfit and flats look super basic.
Shortly after I arrived the program began with a welcome from our host, Jenell B. Stewart, founder of KinkyCurlyCoilyMe.com. Our attention was soon turned to an Art Exhibit featuring looks from Stellah’s Vintage and Malchijah Hats. I was confused at first because I thought paintings were about to be brought onto the stage, but it was a live exhibit with models posing on steps at the side of the tent! Each model came out individually, then took her place and posed – in the cold might I add (to an African, a breezy 60 degrees is cold) – for a good 30 minutes or so. Kudos to those models!
Next was my favorite part of the event, where adorable little kids came out in their own best tea attire and gave us some facts about tea. I was anticipating the gist to be about tea in England, which is what I think about when I hear tea party, but the focus was actually on West African/Senegalese tea traditions. Quite a fascinating history, which I wish would have been included in the program so I could follow along. Perhaps I would’ve been able to listen better if I weren’t so moved by the adorable kiddies! I mean this one boy had a powder blue suit and some glasses…. #lilkidswag!
After the tea facts, there was a reading from the children’s book Sunne’s Gift, written and performed by Ama Karikari-Yawson. I didn’t really understand why we were hearing a children’s book, but the story line from the excerpt we heard was quite engaging. More riveting though was Ama’s explanation of how she was inspired to write the book; her son’s (I’m assuming former) barber kept shaving his head despite her requests to leave some hair, and said that her son did not have good or pretty hair. Ama then wrote this book to help children love their tightly coiled, knotty hair that might look different from the long and straight hair of their friends and classmates. Kind of opened my eyes to the idea that “kinky hair is beautiful” is a message that shouldn’t exclusively be sent to women and girls, but also to little boys and adult men.
It was now tea time! The band Concoction was playing ALL my jams – from A Long Walk, I’m Every Woman, and Ain’t Nobody to some Bob Marley jams, and even Happy! Their lead singer was from Harlem and could SANG honey. I almost didn’t realize that I was cold. The break turned into an impromptu photo and networking session (always hustling!), where I chatted it up with a bunch of attendees. I bumped into quite a few people in the New York natural hair scene, as well as some personalities from outside of the New York area. I was able to (finally) formally meet Angela Walker of the N Natural Hair Studio & The Naturalista Hair Show, Felicia Leatherwood of Loving Your Hair (slash hair stylist to the stars!), Jenell B Stewart of KinkyCurlyCoilyMe.com, Niyya Teneé of LocsRevolution.com, and Imani Dawson of a TribecalledCurl.com. And then of course I also saw a bunch of my blogger boos like Toia of LuvToBNatural.com (who it seems like will be my natural hair event sidekick/partner in crime this spring/summer!), Joy of Confident Curls, Make Me a Naturalista Natasha Gaspard and Yardley Messeroux, LaNisha of CurlyDivas.com, and Asha of Amazing Botanicals!
Once the paparazzi cleared, I went back to my seat to warm up and enjoy the tea, which was supposedly provided by Sereniteaparty.com. I say supposedly because I NEVER GOT ANY TEA. Right. My whole table got some, and the server said he would come back and hook me up first, and then went ghost for a good 20 minutes. My table didn’t even have water. Le struggle. We did have tea sandwiches which were tasty little nibbles; I had a few cucumber bites, as well as something that Toia said was curry something or other, which was very tasty. Some tea would have been nice though, considering I was cold.
Back to the event: next, TNAT honored three women for their various efforts in the community: Memaniye Cinque, a midwife and clinical nutritionist; Lurie Daniel Favors, an attorney and natural hair book author; and Niyya Teneé, public health professional and founder of Locs Revolution. It would have been nice to hear a few words from each of the honorees about their work and various contributions to the natural hair community and movement.
Last but definitely not least, the event closed with a fashion show finale showcasing designs by Reuben Reuel, the creative director of Demestiks New York! I’d seen some of his designs previously on the Gram, so it was cool to see them in real life. I must say though, I can never in a million years justifying paying over $75 for an ankara outfit (being Nigerian and all) but I am definitely here for the ankara/African print takeover that is happening in the fashion world in the past few years! Just hoping and praying it doesn’t get too badly misappropriated…
Anyway, overall I had a GREAT time at the Natural Aristocratic Tea! I was able to get dolled up and meet a lot of people, bounce some ideas, set up some meetings, and hand out some flyers lol. It would have been really nice to get some tea though.
You might want to know what I did with my hair. Great question! I started from the back left side of my head and started twisting and rolling until I reached the middle right section. Threw some bobby pins in that and then twisted and rolled in the other direction with more bobby pins. Brought it back across my face with a flat twist and pinned the end. So pretty much – as with all my updos – I did something completely random until all my ends were hidden and prayed for the best.