ESSENCE FEST 2016 RECAP WITH @MIZANI!
I am in LOVE with the rich character and vibrant culture of the city and am already looking forward to my next visit. Here are 10 highlights from my weekend and a couple of tips for using my favourite natural hair products from the MIZANI True Textures Collection!
- Seeing all the beautiful, strong, and empowered women attending the ESSENCE Beauty Expo.
I can’t tell you how important it is for women to come together at events like ESSENCE Fest. We are so powerful as a group and our positive energy and love for one another radiates out into the world. I felt so inspired seeing my fellow sisters come together with their beautiful children and babies (some husbands came out too!!) supporting each other, encouraging and complimenting each other, uplifting and learning from each other. We are magical. I have no doubt in my mind about that.
- Connecting with all the lovely ladies who came by the MIZANI booth with their big smiles and curly girl questions ready to go.
As the official MIZANI Ambassador I got to spend so much time alongside the MIZANI team talking to women about their hair care and styling questions. I met new naturals, seasoned naturals, transitioning naturals, little girls with big curls, and just so many women who support and believe in the importance of the natural hair movement. I loved being able to share my journey, my knowledge, and my experiences and really just connect to so many new and beautiful people. I also learned so much from the MIZANI team! They worked so hard to get so many women in their chairs for a free styling session. Everyone of the women who got styled left the chair radiant and confident. It was truly a special experience to play a part of.
- Bumping into my followers from all over the world and hearing that I inspired them in any way.
It always surprises me when I find myself somewhere and someone recognizes me from Instagram or YouTube! It’s a truly humbling experience. I love hearing how I have been a source of inspiration for their hair growth journey, healthy living practices, or new travel plans. THIS is why I do what I do. They inspire me to keep working hard and sharing my passion for travel beauty and women’s empowerment issues!
- Experiencing for the first time, the madness that is Bourbon Street at night!
If you haven’t waltzed down Bourbon street between the hours of 9pm and 4am in the morning then you are missing out on a serious street party meets jazz club scene! Me and Jess booked our hotel right in the heart of Bourbon Street and had no idea what we were in for. The place ignites with people from all over the world from various cultural backgrounds who come together for ONE thing, to turn up. All the way up. It is not something I recommend you do every night by any means, you would have to be a zombie to master that crowd multiple evenings in a row, but at least one time is necessary. I can’t even begin to imagine what it looks like during Mardi Gras!
- Getting my hair styled by celebrity stylist and MIZANI Global Artistic Director, Cesar De Leon Ramirez.
Cesar is an incredible celebrity stylist with clients on his roster ranging from Ciara to the Kardashians. His works of art are constantly being praised and worshiped on beauty blogs and in fashion magazines. Now to have him style MY CURLS??? Well let me tell you, I was SO excited! Where is my red carpet! Roll it out. He gave me the most adorable up do with braids and pins and twists and curls here and there. I loved it. If only I could recreate it! But even better, I got the chance to talk to him about hair and the industry. It was such an eye-opening conversation and I really learned some important tips about maintaining healthy hair.
- Celebrating the day away at the official ESSENCE Day Parties by Everyday People.
If you have ever been to an Everyday People party in NYC then you KNOW they are off the chain (who even says off the chain any more 😛 ). But seriously, packed with all the coolest party goers, amazing music, and just an all around cool vibe. ESSENCE brought Everyday People to New Orleans and per usual, the turn up was real. Me and my partner in crime, soul sista, and best Jessica (of lifestyle blog HeyGorJess.com) had the best experience there. Everyday People had live performances, free drinks and food in the VIP, photo booths, food trucks, celebrity appearances, and a dope crowd every day.
- Seeing the Bad Boy family Reunion up close and personal!
Who hasn’t busted a groove to a Diddy, Faith Evans, Mase, or 112 track back in the day? Hmmph I stillllll play their oldies but goodies on the daily. At this years ESSENCE fest I finally got to see them perform live, up close and personal! I got to see Diddy’s two step side shuffle in the flesh. I was singing along to every single tune like I wrote it. It was an UNFORGETTABLE night.
I have been listening to Ro James’ music for the past 3 and a half years. I love his rustic voice and heartfelt tunes. He has an incredible old school vibe that literally holds you captive until the song ends. And even then, you cant help but press repeat. I first hear Andra Day at the recording of Black Girls Rock. Her voice shook me to the core. It’s so powerful and alluring. Immediately I fell in love. At the Apple Music Event I not only got a chance to hear both of these magical musicians live in an intimate setting, I also got the meet them and share a laugh with them. Again, UNFORGETTABLE moments.
- Attending my first Saint Heron party by Solange Knowles in a run down building a little outside of town.
I went to what I would call, a typical Brooklyn Party, but in the quiet outskirts of New Orleans. In the taxi ride over I was like, where….am… I? We pulled up to an old building with a couple of security guards checking IDs outside. They invited us in and we stopped by a little drink kiosk selling beer and wine. When I say little I mean TINY! Again I was like… where…. am… I.. really? We moved into the hot as fire crowd and enjoyed the music which was super super dope. 45 minutes later, just before we thought about leaving because we were too hot, we spotted a fan and moseyed on over to it to cool down. Instantly the energy changed, my feet weren’t tired, my body had rhythm and purpose again (it was a struggle to find the will power to dance on beat there for a minute, I’ll be honest. HOT) and a few moments later I realized I was dancing in the company of Solange Knowles, Janelle Monae, and Jidenna. They are absolutely beautiful beings with the best vibes.
- Meeting Kendrick Lamar in the airport after all the shenanigans were over and having him tell me and my travel partner Jessica of HeyGorJess.com that we look like twins. I cry. This really happened.
Ok I am going to make this quick. Me and Jess had not slept at all that night. Our flight was at 7am and we were at the airport at 5:30 am looking like life was a struggle. Hair in pineapples and scarves and we were dressed in accidentally matching outfits consisting of white sneakers, workout leggings, and the same exact t-shirt which we had gotten free in a gift bag at a hair event earlier in the weekend with the words ” I am Dark and Lovely” printed on the front. We continued to struggle our way through the airport and are watching Jess’s snaps from the night before where we saw Kendrick perform at the Super dome, and next thing you know the woman behind us says, ” Oh there’s Kendrick”. Do our hearts content we turn around and see his talented self (in the express line of course) heading through security. We end up going through about the same time and he notices us and our matching get up’s. After a quick look at our same embarrassed facial expression ( I mean imagine: we are going through security, shoes off, no sleep, no make up,…. and matching in FREE t-shirts… looking at Kendrick Lamar) he then proceeds to ask if we are twins. Hilarity! we happen to be on the same flight so just before boarding we got serenaded with a remix of “Friends how many of us have them” which he changed to “Twins, how many of us have them”. Yayyyy… we win 0.o hahaha!
So TA-DA! What an amazing weekend and this was just the top 10 moments. There are so many other experiences that I am grateful for. But now let me now tell you about my three favourite MIZANI products which kept my curls looking AMAZING alllllll weekend long! You will love the entire line but these are my absolute fav’s for styling.
STEP ONE: CURL DEFINE PUDDING
This hair pudding is super moisturizing. I applied quite a bit of it to keep my hair from drying out in the hot New Orleans weather. My tip with any hair creams or butters, make sure you brush or comb it through so it will be evenly distributed! This allows the product to penetrate all of your hair and give you a light, even application.
STEP TWO: TWIST AND COIL JELLY
The MIZANI True Textures Jelly is one of my favourite Jellies of any product line I have tried. It is so light weight you wouldn’t think it could have such a defining hold but it does! I shared it on snapchat and so many of the people who bought it sent me snaps saying how much they loved it. I found it really protected my hair from the humidity in the air in New Orleans, something that can have a major effect on how well your hair holds a style. For me my wash and go is queen so I found this jelly to be a major player in my hair game this weekend!
To refresh your style on day two and three hair, the 25 Miracle Milk is your best friend! Because it is a spray on, the application is simple and doesn’t require any restyling or re-wetting your hair on your part. I would simply take my hair down from a head scarf in the mornings and spray the product all over my hair, scrunch it in a little, and pick my hair out for volume!