Textured Hair Expo at Bridge Street Middle School Gets People Looking, Feeling Good
photo by: Photo by Derek Redd
WHEELING — Unique Robinson doesn’t want anyone, especially any child, to think they have unmanageable hair.
It’s not that hair can’t be managed, the social worker in Ohio County Schools said. It’s that people aren’t aware of the right processes and the right products to manage it.
Robinson, Bridge Street Middle School and YWCA Wheeling offered people from throughout the county the opportunity to learn about those processes and products at Monday’s Textured Hair Expo at BSMS. Several barbers and stylists set up in the school’s gymnasium to offer tips and tutorials on how to style and manage textured hair.
The expo’s purpose, Robinson said, was not only to offer those tips, but to help parents and guardians of children with textured hair help those kids feel better about themselves and their hair.
“For me,” she said, “it was mostly about how we change that narrative from having unmanageable hair to, we’re just not using the right products for your texture of hair.”
The idea came from a conversation between Robinson and Bridge Street Principal Jessica Broski-Birch. They were at a professional learning meeting and discussing how to bring people into schools as a community hub. Ron Scott, Director of Cultural Diversity and Community Outreach for the YWCA Wheeling, was with them and mentioned a project he had worked on. Robinson loved the idea, and the Textured Hair Expo was born.
While many of the tips were especially helpful to African-American and biracial students, Robinson said families of any race or ethnicity could learn some helpful lessons Monday. Some parents, she said, just don’t have the knack to care for and style textured hair, and Robinson could relate. She said her mother couldn’t master it, and it wasn’t until she was older that Robinson figured it out for herself.
“I had to go away to college to meet people from Washington D.C. and Florida who said, hey girl, you don’t know what you’re doing, let me help you out,” Robinson said.
photo by: Photo by Derek Redd
Among the stylists and barbers attending Monday’s event were Rica Lee of Just Me Salon, Kylie Williams of Lavish Salon, Jessica Wesley of Frederick’s Day Spa Salon, Ashley Byrd of Bridal Artistry, Chad Stradwick of Stradwick’s Fade Cave, Luke Steed of Stallion Cutz and independent barber Zac Zdonczyk. Zdonczyk grew up in the area, but came up from Atlanta to be part of the expo.
“Any time I find a way to give back to the community I grew up in, it’s an amazing feeling,” he said. “I’m honored to be asked to help out.”
Zdonczyk spent some time Monday giving young Coy Thompson a fresh haircut. Thompson’s aunt Juanita Allen was very happy to see an event like this come to life.
“It’s wonderful,” she said. “They have some really great barbers in here. They’re doing everyone’s texture of hair.”
Lee said that one of the most important things people can take away from the expo is how a haircut or a good style can lift a person’s spirits. It’s among the reasons why she does what she does.
“Your hair is your signature,” she said. “Everybody wants to feel good. It can help your attitude. It can help your personality. I like when I’m done with a little girl’s hair, or even a grown woman, and they smile and tell me, ‘You don’t know how good you made me feel today.'”
That’s especially important for children, Broski-Birch said. By understanding how to best care for their hair, they enjoy a confidence boost that carries them through the day.
“I want students to feel they can walk in here and feel confident and not feel they have to fit into the straight hair mold they see everywhere else,” Broski-Birch said, “and they can find the beauty in what they have.”