There are moments in life when you just need to get away from everyday routine, and spend a few days with your closest friends to relax, reflect, and strengthen a bond. Well, that’s exactly what happened a few weeks back when I attended Curly Girl Collective’s annual CurlFest 2018 with my best friend, Naika. This was our first time attending the one-day natural hair festival, located at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, New York, and it was an incredible fun experience. I have personally only worn my hair natural for about six years now, so to see the community blooming into this self-loving, feel good festival, is something that I hope I can attend every year. It’s not easy maintaining thick coils, but I love it.
In this post, I will show you a few pictures that we took during the event, a brief review of all the natural hair companies that were there, the importance of sisterhood, as well as the pros and cons of the event, in case you are planning to go in 2019 and beyond. So, let’s get to it!
I’ve been friends with Naika since I was about 14-15 years old during my Freshman/Sophomore year of high school, which is basically about 8/9 years of friendship. When I first started high school, it was a weird transition from middle school, since most of my middle school friends separated into their own high school groups (many cliques back then), and I didn’t have one of my own until I met her and my other best friend, Erika. We’ve all been close ever since. The best thing about this trip was the fact that our friendship grew even stronger from experiencing events like CurlFest for the first time, to dealing with extreme hardships after the festival was over. It really makes a difference in your life when you have people who support your business, blog, brand, or whatever you have going on, and feel proud of your individual journey. Everyone deserves that friend who is basically like a bonus sister or brother, and I’m grateful that Naika joined me for CurlFest, as well as helping me take loads of pictures for you to see.
Since the event didn’t start until 12PM, we decided to have brunch in the morning at a restaurant called Woodland, located at Flatbush Ave in Brooklyn. This particular restaurant is very unique because you need an ID to come in, there’s a DJ playing Hip Hop, R&B, and Caribbean music, and you can basically dance while eating your omelet and french toast. Plus, there were so many men and women, majority Black folks, who were showing off their beautiful curls, coils, and summer outfits, so it was a great atmosphere to start off the day.
However, we underestimated the amount of people who attend CurlFest, because by 2pm when we arrived, it was massively crowded. It was a bit confusing at first—since we entered through the Grand Army Plaza entrance of Prospect Park, we had to walk twenty minutes to the Southwest section of the park where the festival was taking place. Once we got there, we were in the back section of the festival, and had to ask multiple people to direct us to the official entrance, and eventually found multiple large lines, separated by the type of ticket.
If you were lucky to get a free general admission ticket, you didn’t need to be in line. However, the GOLD (gift bag), SILVER ( Swag Pass), and PLATINUM (All Access) ticket holders were required to stand in line to receive their swag items that came with the purchased ticket. We both got the Silver ticket, which includes a CurlFest tote bag, an orange blanket with “CURLFEST 2018” stitched on it, and a double-layered mason jar with a straw.
I am not kidding you—we stood in that line for at least an hour and a half. Thankfully, the weather was nice enough to stand in the sun for a long period of time, but this was definitely the moment I wish we came earlier. Many people complained about the speed of the line, and hopefully there’s a better system, or additional registration lines throughout the park that will lower the capacity of the line in the future.
Once we finally got in, we went directly to the “Beauty Row”, which had all of the sponsored hair companies give out free samples, hair demos, a store to purchase products, and etc. The entire Beauty Row consists of: Shea Moisture, Shea Moisture Men, Carol’s Daughter, Mielle Organics, Lottabody, Creme of Nature, As I Am, Beleza Natural, Eden Body Works, Jamaican Mango & Lime, and more. Since we arrived a little too late, many of the samples and free merchandise from the various companies ran out. The lines for each were extremely long as well, but we did manage to get a few samples from Palmers, Lottabody, and Creme of Nature.
For the future, I hope there is a physical map of the entire park that shows the locations of each station, particularly the food trucks, the “Arts District”, and the “Empowerment Stage”, because unfortunately we missed out on those features, and we were unaware of them happening until it was too late. However we were able to spend some time at the “Vendor Marketplace” and the main stage. The main stage section was pretty fun; all types of music was playing, especially the theme song to The Fresh Prince of Bel Air, everyone was dancing or sitting on the grass with their CurlFest blankets, and it was such a nice, problem-free environment.
At the marketplace, there were so many amazing vendors that had items for sale, but we only shopped at one of them, called Haus of Swag. They have fashion graphic tees and accessories of Black artists, and Black culture, and Naika saw a small clutch that says “POET”, with Tupac Shakur’s face in the letters. You know I had to get it.
After that, it was around 7pm and we decided to head back to Flatbush for food, and relaxed from our long day at Prospect Park. I’m so happy that we both got a chance to experience this festival for the first time together, and hopefully we can come next year, and see EVERYTHING that we missed this year.
If you are planning to go next year or in the coming years, here are a few tips that may help:
- Bring a friend with you. Usually I would go to festivals and concerts and not even ask anyone because I’m impatient, but this particular festival was all about unity, sisterhood, brotherhood, and community. I would always have someone to experience CurlFest with me.
- COME EARLY. Don’t be like us and come two hours later, just to stand in line for another hour and a half. Be smarter than us, and come at 12PM when the door opens.
- Dress to impress. You never know who may come to you with a camera, and give you a quick photoshoot. At one point while Naika and I was standing in line for hair samples, I was stopped by a professional photographer, and he later posted my photo on his Instagram. You check my photo here.
- Don’t stand around in one section. I do regret spending majority of the time trying to get samples, and not realizing that there was so much more to do at the festival. So spread your wings and go explore.
- Dance, sing, laugh, and have fun!
CurlFest is definitely on my list for next year to flaunt my kinky and curly hair, and to make great memories with my friends and family, and I hope you consider coming too!