When D’Asia Fleming talked about what the experience of CurlFest does to you, the only way she could do it was by comparing it to a flower blossoming.
Last year, she attended NYC’s very own natural beauty festival for the first time, where she had, as she would describe it, an epiphany.
“Growing up as a black girl with kinky-curly hair, loving yourself was almost impossible to do for so many reasons so stepping into an environment like CurlFest where everyone was loving on each other in the most beautiful way, I instantly knew that this was something I had to bring to SUNY Buffalo State campus,” and Fleming.
This is when she decided to join Kinks Curls and Coils, a natural hair organization on campus that hosts an annual event entitled Rock Your Mane.
This event is derived from the idea of CurlFest in Brooklyn, New York. CurlFest was created and hosted by the Curly Girl Collective. The first CurlFest was in 2014 where over 1,000 people came out and four years later for their 2018 CurlFest, 38 thousand people attended.
“Our goal was and still is to create innovative experiences that harnesses the energy of the natural hair movement and showcases the best brands for modern women of color,” said Curly Girl Collective member, Charisse.
D’Asia went on to explain that Rock Your Mane is for all the people of color who are looking to celebrate who they are as well as their culture here in Buffalo, New York.
“Since Rock Your Mane is an idea that came out of CurlFest, we used the main concept of it and built up from there,” said KCC President Demba Jallow.
Both Rock Your Mane and CurlFest are events where entrepreneurs can find interesting people to network with as well as attract new customers. These events are open spots for vendors of all sorts.
Being that CurlFest is on a bigger scale, their vendors list consists of brands such as Shea Moisture, Target, Carol’s Daughter, AT&T, various food trucks and even some mom and pop businesses.
Rock Your Mane, on the other hand, will be home to student entrepreneurs. Such student-owned businesses will include but are not limited to, makeup services, skin care lines, protective headscarves, clothing and more.
Last year being the first for Rock Your Mane, to the executive board’s surprise more than 100 attended. This came with positive feedback from event goers and leads the executive board to believe that this year’s Rock Your Mane coming this weekend, April 27th, 2019, will welcome close to 200 people.
The event will be held on Buffalo State’s campus on the Union Quad from 2pm to 5pm. There will be music, free food, activities, contests, prizes and more. The theme is “Flower Child/Melanin Magic”, therefore all tie-dye, self-love clothing and accessories are encouraged.
“KCC wants everyone who attends Rock Your Mane to blossom like the beautiful flower they are,” said Vice President of KCC, Jarrett Brown. “We want to create the same if not then similar, vibe CurlFest gives people; The freedom to be who you are.”
The concept of coming together to celebrate who you are as a person in the minority community isn’t a new one neither is it just simply found in America.
There are natural festivals everywhere from South Africa to Namibia to the United Kingdom to Guyana and now right here in Buffalo, New York.
KCC’s goal is to become as globally known some of these other festivals, like CurlFest around the world.
“I’m from New York City and being in Buffalo for school sometimes makes me miss the beautiful mix of culture that I get back home,” said Rock Your Mane and CurlFest attendee Dhalya Jemmison. “Rock Your Mane gives me exactly what I need: the beauty of culture.”
It was the idea of bringing something as meaningful as a natural beauty event to Buffalo State campus that got KCC going but it also seems that Buffalo State may also be the ones holding them back.
Unlike CurlFest and all its other festival brothers and sisters, Rock Your Mane is funded by Buffalo State’s United Student Government and hosted by a group that is affiliated with the school. This leads to limitations. KCC is given a yearly budget to work with and as one of the newest organizations on campus, they receive one of the smallest budgets throughout all of the organizations. Along with this, they must also follow all USG rules. Such rules create restrictions on things such as venue, food, ticket sales, amount of people, and the need for security.
CurlFest, on the other hand, is both self-funded and sponsored. The vendors who attend the event help to make the actual festival a success.
All in all, both events are making their marks on people’s lives each year.
You can find more KCC events and information on their instagram @bsckcc