CURLFEST is the “largest natural beauty festival in America,” according to the organization’s website. The event that started in New York in 2014 and expanded to Atlanta last year is a cultural beauty movement. Each year it brings together about 40,000 people to celebrate Black women in all their glory. Unfortunately due to the pandemic, the physical gathering won’t take place this year.
We spoke with Melody Henderson, one of five co-founders and creators of Curly Girl Collective and CURLFEST, about how they are supporting and empowering women during these uncertain times.
What drove you to turn your passion into profit?
Hair is at the root, but it really is about self-acceptance, self-identity, forging through and breaking down society’s definition of what beauty is. When we talk about profitability and how you go from your passion to business it’s about understanding what your audience needs. We always say the five of us are like our target audience. A lot of times that drives some of our decisions. We think about what do I need, what kind of education, what kind of products, what kind of brands do I want to be connected [to]?
How has the evolution of CURLFEST prepared you for this moment?
We started out as friends on an email chain chatting all day, every day, about hair. We decided to get together, and one of my now business partners hosted us at her house. It was maybe 15 or so people, and something about connecting in person was amazing. We thought about how we could bring this to the rest of the world and then our business was born. It’s almost humbling now because we’re doing the reverse. So we put it out in the world and decided to break down this sort of digital barrier and have it in person and now a lot of ways we’re doing the reverse. It was still really important for us to still connect with our community, even though we can’t be in person.
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