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The 3rd Africa Hair International Extravaganza

On the weekend of the 12th, 13th & 14th of September, the Africa Hair International Extravaganza (AIHE) brought us their 3rd annual instalment at new a venue, Vodaworld in Midrand. Their theme for 2014: Educate, Style, Innovation. I’d attended the inaugural event in 2012 (not good) and then again very briefly last year (better) so I can confidently tell you that the AIHE has improved in leaps since it started.

The first day, Friday 13th September was what they called the conference day, more of an industry event with stakeholders such as hairdressers, hairdressing students, bloggers & manufacturers etc. in attendance. It was poorly attend which was such a pity (registration was free) because it was my favourite part of the AIHE (tell you why in a bit). The setup was cinema style with various talks and presentations all hair related but coming at the topic from different angles we that weren’t all the usual ones e.g. health & safety, labour law (rights of salon owners vs. stylists) & franchising (see the full conference line up here). By far my favourite speakers were Shaughn Adams (Phillips ambassador) – he’s always entertaining in his delivery & my afro doesn’t scare him off! I really want to visit his salon next time I’m in Cape Town (I’ve been saying that f-o-r-e-v-e-r!).

But the highlight of the entire event for me was the last speaker, Professor Nonhlanhla P Khumalo (MBChB) from UCT who spoke on the health & safety aspect from a medical perspective but in a very understandable & factual way. Originally from Soweto, she has a PhD in Public Health is a board certified dermatologist having received clinical and research training at Groote Schuur Hospital in and The Churchill Hospital in Oxford, UK. I loved her presentation – it was data based & grounded in research & science. Moreover it was just great to hear how much work is happening in the realm of kinky/curly/textured hair & all of this coming from a Black woman (with great hair I might add!).

I really can’t do Professor Nonhlanhla P Khumalo’s presentation justice – she was excellent & the best person I have heard talk on the topic of hair to date. I’d needed to leave at least an hour before I eventually did but I couldn’t tear myself away from her talk for a second. Her thesis looked at “The epidemiology of hairstyle related of hair disorders in an urban township (Langa) in South Africa.” Yes really! She & her team have & continue to study & research our hair & right here in SA – who knew?! I’m going to try & get hold of her presentation and share some of her research/findings on here on the blog. I also made a point of asking Prof Khumalo for her top 3 hair tips which I’ll share in a separate post. What I will say for now is that she made no secret of her disdain of all & any relaxers!

I honestly wasn’t planning to return & attend the AIHE over the weekend (when it would be open to the public) but Prof Khumalo left me inspired and honestly also curious to see what was planned for the rest of the event. If you know Vodaworld you’ll know the retail section in the main building where all the brands have stores – well the AIHE was held directly above it, in the events space. Tickets were R100/day (or R80 early bird) which is down from the last 2 years I’m pretty sure. The main stage was always buzzing with music/entertainment & (hair) fashion shows. Around it were all the various exhibitors/stalls that the public could browse.

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I didn’t attend but on the Friday evening, there was also a glitzy awards ceremony covering several categories (see the list of winners here). Congrats to my #HairGuru Tendayi from Africanhairblog who won best blog! You go girl!

I stayed for about an half and a half max on Saturday. Here’s what I thought….

What I liked:

  • good venue: right size, location, easy to find & parking
  • well organised – things seemed to work
  • improved ticket pricing
  • the theme was good: Educate, Style, Innovation
  • Prof Khumalo – she just rocked!
  • seeing new local brands
  • a good mix of local (new & old brands) & international brands including coveted products like Mixed Chicks, AsIAm  etc. (though these were super expensive!) on sale
  • the “pamper area” was a very good idea (you could get your hair/make up touched up) & very popular so this needs a bigger space next year
  • social media updates were on point. Not just on the day but in the weeks & months running up to the event as well.

What I didn’t like

  • having a relaxer in the goodie bag was a fail for me – especially after Prof Khumalo’s talk
  • some of the stalls were completely unstaffed when I would have liked to chat to the brand (I hung around and waited – no luck)
  • more seating was needed around the stage (people were sitting on the floor)
  • in terms of the theme that they’d set (Educate, Style, Innovation) for themselves they stumbled on the “educate” part over the weekend when the event was open to the public
  • while it wasn’t the “weave show” of previous years there’s still wasn’t nearly enough natural hair
  • more constructive criteria around the awards for both the nominations & voting/final selection
  • the media area needed major sprucing up (think good location (with a stage view), water/tea/coffee, plug points & comfy seating)

Here’s a little closer look…

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Did you attend the AIHE? What did you think? I’ll definitely be checking out the AIHE in 2015!

Be kind to your hair!

W

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