So it was the 31st annual Afro hair and beauty show at the design centre in Angel. It's said to be the number 1 hair event for the Afro hair and beauty industry with vendors, speakers and guests coming from across the globe.
I was a first time visitor to the show, I've always wanted to attend just to see what it's all about though I had received some mixed reviews of previous years I still wanted to make my own mind up about the event.
And was pleased when ORS or organic root stimulator emailed me to sign up and receive complimentary tickets and access to the 'blogger lounge'
The so called blogger lounge was sold to bloggers as a place where you could get complimentary refreshments, free wifi as to blog about the event as you go and a goodie bag. The blogger lounge in reality was a couple of sofas, water (which i wasn't offered) and what looked like a half eaten box of Pret cookies (which may have been someone's lunch). There was no wifi and an initial snippy attitude from the ORS representative.
I was first told to 'just go look around or something' by the ORS rep after I enquired about who I was to register with (I also want to thank who ever was responsible for the comp tickets)
Later I was again ignored by reps and was about to give up until my friend ask what I had to do and was this the blogger lounge! I was then asked fill out a form which looked like a registration form (which I'd already filled out online!)
I was then given a brief (yet informative) talk about the ORS brands by a very frustrated and stressed rep! I understood her predicament People where turning up at the 'blogger lounge and claiming to be bloggers when they actually were not....but that's the way it is some people will do anything for a freebie but as a professional the rep should really have kept her peeved attitude to herself. The area wasn't separate or sectioned off so it was a free for all and I'm aware that many bloggers that did register didn't get their tickets! It was a total cock up and I actually feel bad for the poor girl who tried to organize it as it went tits up!
So my start to the event wasn't great due to ORS but I was increasing underwhelmed by the event itself. The vendors in the so called natural hair sector felt squashed together, and there where brands there such as Eden bodyworks and curlformers that had no stock to sell which I found odd (I was later informed that they were just there to display or demo products and curl formers gave out codes to purchase online). The whole event was quite corporate which is fair enough but I can go to Paks any time and I don't need to pay a tenner for the privilege (even though I didn't but you get my point!)
The debate on stage about haircare was basic and not very interactive. And worst of all I spotted skin lighting lotion on display from Soft and White.
It just felt a bit standard and after 31 years and being world renowned, standard just isn't good enough.
The show has the potential to be amazing and a trail blazing (much needed in the UK) event however I heard from other visitors that it has been the same for many many years most people seem to have the attitude of "yeah but it the Afro hair and beauty show! What do you expect" and to that I say I expect better!
That being said most of the vendors where upbeat and making the most of the event, The venue was nice if not a little under utilised and there were no queues! ORS thought the blogger lounge was an epic fail, there stand was big with lots of helpers and a hair scanning thingy (not the scientific name) Afrobella was in attendance doing meet and greets with Strength of Nature, also Jane Carter Solutions, Dr Miracle (with there curl care products) and Mixed Chicks all had stands.
Highlights where meeting the author of How I grew It Long Naturally Diane Hall, Charlotte Mensah (super stylist!) Afrobella and Vinna from Officially Natural (who is super upbeat and fab!) I also got to meet some wonderful bloggers and my fantastic followers! The love was so immense and it was worth the average event and the price of a train ticket from Reading just for that!
I got an interesting swag bag from the day, and a forest full of leaflets (so wasteful!) it would have been good if before the event they held a kind of blogger or press (correct me if they did and I wasn't aware) Mixer so we could have met up with the vendors and talked about their brands as it was hard to get the attention of brands when people where grabbing for sachets. Though many of the brands where targeted at relaxed and natural hair, there wasn't a great mix of brands for those of us who prefer less chemicals in our beauty products