Naturally FLYY Detroit is hosting their signature event, We Rock Dope Hair! A Natural Hair Experience, Sat., June 2, 2018, 1-8 p.m. at The Artist Village in Detroit. It is Detroit’s largest gathering of Black women, natural hair and style. Launched in 2010, the sister team and founders, Charice “EttaFLYY” Thomas and Jennifer Thomas, held the inaugural meet up at their family-owned and operated bakery, Sweet Potato Sensations. Like the family’s 30-year-old business, We Rock Dope Hair! began with humble intentions. It was meant to create a space in which Black women celebrate and embrace their beauty. The first meet up of 100 women was amid huge ovens and mixers in the kitchen of the business. This year’s projected attendance will include 800+ men, women and children.
“For some people, this is like their kick-off to the summer,” Etta said. “It’s fun, no drama, it’s just good energy. People come with their kids in strollers. If you’re a man, you’re welcome. Men come with their wives. Men wear ‘locs; they wear afros. They wanna know how to do stuff to their hair. They wanna know how to support their women on the [natural hair] journey.”
While Naturally FLYY is a platform to explore experiences that deserve to shine, educating younger generations is also a benefit. “There’s one woman who has been coming since we first started having them and she brought her son,” Jenn shared. “She said, ‘I want my son to see what natural hair looks like. It’s not just afro and locs.’ He was like, ‘Oh my God, all these ladies are so pretty. I didn’t know it was all these different styles.’ It opened his eyes to the possibilities.”
Queens who prefer to slay while wearing weave are also welcome. “There’s enough division as it is between women and Black women. This is for everybody,” Etta insisted.
Naturally FLYY Detroit intends to leave a legacy of promoting positivity, true authenticity, and creative freedom in their community. “Community is very important to us,” Etta said. “A lot of people have said, ‘Go to a bigger venue, go downtown. You could get way more and you can do xyz.’ And there’s nothing wrong with that, but for us, we have a business over here and I think beautiful things happen in the Detroit community, not always midtown or downtown.”
Featured highlights of the event will include 30-40 vendors selling handmade goods, head wrapping tutorials, big chop demos, a natural hair panel discussion and a pop up salon. Legendary house music DJ Stacy “HOTWAXX” Hale, African drumming and dancing, will keep the crowd moving as they indulge in vegan and vegetarian-friendly food. Attendees will also enjoy giveaways, door prizes and raffles.
Although the gathering is now held at The Artist Village, its roots remain grounded. Entering the first location, Sweet Potato Sensations, is like stepping into your favorite auntie’s living room. It’s clear that Etta meant to curate a soothing cocoon of pride and nostalgia. She is adamant about training the front end staff to treat customers “like they are extended family.” The two sisters who are only a little over a year apart in age have opposite yet, complementary personalities. Jenn is the calm and calculating mastermind behind yummy selections such as Sweet Potato Pecan Pie and Sweet Potato Cheesecake. She knows each of the bakery’s 25 or more recipes by heart. “I have come to be the person who makes everything,” she said. “Anything you eat out of here, Jennifer has made the batter for our baker to make it,” Etta added. “She’s cracked the eggs, she’s measured all the brown sugar, the nutmeg, and everything.”
Gregarious by nature, Etta, who is also known by her business persona “Espy,” is the visible liaison of their business. “I talk about everything my sister makes. I put a voice to it,” she said. “Anything that keeps people being able to know that we’re here and we’re relevant.”
We Rock Dope Hair! A Natural Hair Experience is Saturday, June 2, 1p.m.-8 p.m. at The Artist Village in Detroit. Visit http://naturallyflyydetroit.strikingly.com/ for more information and to buy tickets.