Initially, she wanted to bring all the seemingly scarce makers of haircare products for women looking to wear their natural hair into her own backyard, but Monique Herbert’s baby has become something much, much bigger.
The 5th Annual New Orleans Natural Hair Expo has grown from its humble roots (no pun intended). This year’s iteration took over the Contemporary Arts Center in the Warehouse District on July 7, filling the museum space with demonstrations, product samples and t-shirts celebrating black women and their hair.
“It was supposed to be a small meet-up about five years ago and now it’s turned into this,” Herbert said, gesturing at the packed hall around her. “It’s something that I thought of to bring all the brands that were catering to natural hair at the time to New Orleans and now they’re here.”
Herbert said that the initial event started out of her own natural hair experience. Herbert said that it was a process to discover what kind of products could help her hair stand up to the punishing heat and humidity of her hometown.
“I had natural hair at the time and was kind of trying to figure out my regimen and what works in this weather especially,” she said, noting that haircare products for women who wanted to go natural were not as readily available then. “At that time, a lot of [these brands] weren’t in Target and Walmart. I wanted to have them come and let people speak with them and engage with them and learn about the products. That was my overall goal.”
There’s no way to look around the space that Herbert created for these women and not feel like she’s reached that goal. Herbert was fairly humble about the continued growth of her event.
“So far, so good. Everybody always wants it to come back,” she said. “It will be back as long as New Orleans wants it back. I hope everyone keeps coming and we’ll keep having it.”