Twin Cities Hair and Beauty Expo highlights Black culture and entrepreneurship
The 5th annual Twin Cities Hair and Beauty Expo returned to Minneapolis on Sunday to highlight Black culture and entrepreneurship.
The event expanded this year because of growing popularity. It’s the largest event of its kind in the Upper Midwest.
From the braids down to the locs, Black hair speaks volumes.
“I think that Black hair extends far beyond just what’s on our heads. I think it says this is a really great representation of just who we are and how we represent ourselves,” Melissa Stanton, expo attendee, said.
60 vendors put their Black-owned business front and center, showing off everything from hair care to clothing.
“It’s incredible. I’ve done this all five years because in Minnesota, we don’t have things like this,” DeVonna Pittman, Nature’s Syrup Beauty owner, said.
Ten years ago, Pittman thought of Nature’s Syrup Beauty and got the idea off the ground. The success landed her products on the shelves at Macy’s this year.
She explained the journey came with challenges.
“We don’t have trust funds that we use to start our businesses. Many people don’t own homes yet so they can’t go and get equity out of their homes,” Pittman said.
Through informational workshops, the expo teaches Black entrepreneurs there’s ways around it. Grants were also awarded at the event so businesses could grow and flourish.
The event also highlighted mental health battles through live panels.
“This is more than a hair show,” Briana Cress, Twin Cities Hair and Beauty Expo representative said. “We can share how to empower, educate and uplift.”
Expo leaders explained this year’s passing of the Crown Act banning racial hair discrimination in Minnesota brought a new meaning to the event.
“We can wear our hair the way it grows out of our scalp and be proud of that,” Pittman said. “The Crown Act has really brought it full circle where we as Black women can go into our workplaces and be exactly who we are.”
Pittman explained for 20 years, she was worried about straightening her hair to fit society’s definition of professional in the workplace.
Now she’s using her beauty line to encourage the Black community to embrace their hair, calling it a newfound freedom to be themselves.
“It makes me feel incredible,” Pittman said. “There’s no better feeling than being able to be yourself and love the way your hair grows out of your scalp like most people do.”
Expo leaders explained there’s already big interest for next year’s event. Their goal is to keep expanding and create more space for Black success.