(WMC) - Drawing in natural hair enthusiasts from across the Mid-South, the Naturals In The City Hair and Wellness Expo, presented by Memphis' A Natural Affair Salon, took over Memphis for the third year on Saturday.
While this year's expo moved to Minglewood Hall and was condensed to one day instead of two, the event itself expanded to a full weekend of activities.
On Friday July 18, naturals attended a NITC3 Preview Party, the expo was held on Saturday and Sunday. The celebration of all things natural will conclude with a Women's Empowerment Brunch at Jack Robinson Gallery.
From 10 a.m. - 7 p.m. on Saturday, men, women, and children visited Minglewood, perusing various booths with natural products and attending health and wellness workshops.
For TaKeisha Berry-Brooks, owner of A Natural Affair, the new venue was the perfect choice.
"This year is much more successful than last year," said Berry-Brooks. "It actually was my first choice the first year, but I needed to see exactly how it would be done. So far it's amazing; I love it."
In the last decade, more individuals are transitioning to natural, chemical-free, hairstyles. According statistics, the African American hair care business as a whole has grown to be a $700 million - $500 billion industry.
With more African Americans seeking alternative options for hair maintenance and overall well-being, the expo was a way for the natural community to come together and learn the latest from industry professionals.
"The workshops were well organized and informative," said Memphian Liz Wilson. "I especially liked the fact that there were locally owned products represented. It was both educational and fun."
While some may say that women opting for chemical-free hair styles may be a phase or trend, Berry-Brooks believes otherwise.
"It's not a phase; it's definitely a lifestyle change."
Brooks noted that in the last year, she has seen a tremendous clientele increase in her salon, located at 2847 Poplar Avenue Suite #103.
"It's more than a salon. You come to A Natural Affair and you're instantly family," said Berry-Brooks. "You learn a lot and then our styles are off the chain. We really give you options."
As for next year, Berry-Brooks hopes to bring in other trailblazers in the natural hair industry such as Lisa Price of Carol's Daughter and Curlbox Founder Myleik Teele.
In addition, the salon owner, wife, and mother is also considering natural hair college tours.
In the meantime, the impact of this year's NITC has made a lasting impression.
"Seeing women walk proudly with their kinky, coarse, curly tresses makes me proud to be a woman of color," added Wilson.