Oh, hair we go Mzansi

ONCE upon a time hairspray was sticky and stinky, while gel left hair looking wet and a blow-dryer took hours to work.

Not anymore! The hair industry has made so much headway that we even have hair shows.

Thanks to people like businesswoman Fatima Cele, South Africa will have the 1st Annual Africa International Hair Extravaganza. It is the first event of its kind on the continent.

The event will see the most talented and creative hairstylists from Africa and the diaspora being showcased at the Coca-Cola Dome in Johannesburg on August 11 and 12.

"While travelling on the continent I found that in West Africa good hairstylists were leaving to further their careers overseas because of a lack of support," Cele points out.

"I decided to bring the hair community together for two days of innovation, style and technology in hair care.

"This is the first such event on the continent and it would be a great way for up-and-coming local talent to promote themselves as well," she said.

Cele, who also runs a communication agency, adds: "We also want the African hair industry to connect through this event and we want it to be an annual affair."

Visitors will find out what the latest tips and trends in hair are and also what is new and fresh in the industry.

The event will present networking opportunities and extensive branding exposure for the hair industry.

The objectives of the extravaganza is to provide a platform for both the African ethnic hair industry and its consumers to discuss, connect, educate and display their brands and talent. It also aims to show the role this industry plays on the continent in strategic areas such as job creation and poverty alleviation.

"It will be the beginning of a new era in the rise and positioning of the African ethnic hair industry as a contributor to Africa's economy and an industry that plays a key role in displaying the beauty of African women," Cele says.

The exhibition will include stylists, beauticians, hair, skin and nail care professionals, fashion-clothing boutiques, hair and skin care retailers and spas. And many others will have stands on display at the event.

Cele says the initiative will allow people to connect and discuss challenges facing the industry, expansion of respective hair brands on the continent and for consumers to be exposed to the latest trends in hair, products, accessories, solutions to hair problems as well as bargains.

The show will also feature hair competitions, such as the Africa Battle of the Stylist and the SA Battle of Stylist. There will also be students' shows, salon fashion shows, beauty salon make-overs, product demonstrations, hair styling bursaries and an abundance of give-aways.

A number of festivities, including a music show, will form part of the extravaganza.

There will also be African hair awards, which are intended to display and acknowledge the ability of hairstylists by rewarding their contributions to the hair care industry.

Stylists will showcase in different categories including natural, bridal and weave, among others. The event has been lauded by the hair industry.

Virgin hair extensions and wigs dealer Diva Divine's marketing manager, Leonie Julius, heaped praise on the organisers for the initiative.

"We are pleased we are part of this exciting initiative," Julius said. "We look forward to a successful exhibition. This will help us showcase our top hair to the rest of Africa."

Alexis Tshangana, who is a fashion and beauty editor, said she was excited about the doors the event would open for the South African hair and beauty industry.

"This will boost our local hair brands. We will also learn more about each other's brands in Africa."

But that's not all, there's more. The the event will not be limited to Johannesburg.

Organisers say there are also road shows in the pipeline in which stylists around South Africa will show off their skills in a bid to win prizes.

- johnz@sowetan.co.za

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