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The Business of Natural Hair

  • Wednesday, Jul 28, 2021 5:00 PM - 6:00 PM CDT

Sorry, this event is not available.

This event was available from Saturday, January 9, 2021 12:00 AM until the event start date.

For decades, Women of Color have battled the stigma surrounding their natural hair. There was a time, according to google searches around the world, afros, kinky twists and braids were deemed unprofessional. And if we weighed in on society's opinion, it was plain unattractive but the culture and conversation around our crown has shifted and we have so many trailblazers to thank for driving this movement forward. From the representation on shelves in the form of specialty products to those who put on their advocate hats and pushed for policy change to protect our opportunity to advance within our own individuality, we feel a lot less pressured to assimilate in exchange for acceptance. The real burnout was not from excessively straightening our stubborn strands and tucking flyaways to look presentable but more from fighting to show up in spaces as our authentic selves, with the same freedom afforded to others.

Join us for a live discussion with powerful women who made natural hair their business and continue to use their platforms to make strides in the world of natural hair, while also making it their mission to highlight the beauty and boldness of walking courageously in our own skin. 

Like a couch conversation between girlfriends, Moderator and Journalist Myca Williamson will have candid dialogue with Business Natural Hair Director, Naomi Samuel and Obia Ewah who is the CEO and Founder of OBIA Naturals, a non-toxic vegan product line for hair and body care to discuss the blossoming billion dollar market for natural hair and the statement we want to convey as we navigate this major milestone. 

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About Naomi: 

Naomi is a PhD student at the College of Business at the University of Texas at Arlington. She is a member of the UTA Diversity, Racial Equity, and Inclusion research group—a national hub of scholars with research expertise in diversity as it relates to discrimination and social issues at work. She particularly focuses on investigating anti-racist workplace practices and the problematic nature of workplace appearance and dress norms.

As part of her natural hair journey, she created the project #BusinessNatural: a photo-investigation capturing the lived experiences of Black academics and professionals who wear their natural hair. Through photography, interviews, and the Southern Methodist University Engaged Learning program, she created a long-standing creative exhibit, displayed at the Cox School of Business for one year. It is currently on display in the office of the SMU Chief Diversity Officer. She plans to utilize her career to challenge the traditions of professionalism which foster exclusion, and create innovative anti-racism interventions.


About Obia: 

OBIA Naturals is focused on producing vegan, pH balanced, non-toxic hair and body care products that offer a natural alternative to conscientious consumers. The OBIA Naturals journey began in 2012, when Obia Ewah decided to use her dual bachelor’s degree in both Chemistry and Biology to start a hair and skin care line that addressed her sensitive skin needs. On the path to becoming a doctor, it was during Obia’s 3rd year of medical school when she was diagnosed with thyroid cancer.  As a part of her quest to live a healthier lifestyle, Obia decided to shed her relaxed tresses for her naturally tightly coiled texture. Known as the “Big Chop,” Obia’s newly embraced coif left her needing the right combination of products to tame her thick hair without jeopardizing her overall health with toxins. A former chemist for private label cosmetic manufacturing companies, Obia recognized the void in the market and began tinkering with her own formulas that used the natural ingredients that she had spent years studying about during her days at the University of North Texas. In just 9 years, what started out as botanical blends for friends and family has blossomed into a global business of pH Balanced, herbal based vegan products that do not contain: mineral oil, sulfates, petroleum, alcohol, silicones, honey, beeswax, goat’s milk or any animal protein. Being a member of the Society of Cosmetic Chemists enables Obia to attend seminars regularly to stay on the pulse of the latest beauty industry studies and research. Using science based technology, OBIA Naturals products have developed an award winning reputation for high quality formulations that are composed of easily absorbed natural humectants that nourish all hair textures and skin types.

A well-respected beauty industry thought leader, Obia Ewah uses educational Instagram clips and DIY YouTube videos as a platform to inspire and educate women on the science behind healthy hair. Obia’s passion for quality ingredients has propelled OBIA Naturals to the forefront of the natural hair movement with features by top beauty influencers and magazines such as Forbes Business Insider and Essence. OBIA Naturals was a finalist in Amazon’s Small Business of the Year award in 2019. OBIA Naturals distribution past and present includes Wal-Mart, Target, Sally Beauty, CVS, JC Penney, Albertsons, Giant Eagle, Discount Drug Mart, Bed Bath & Beyond, HEB, Amazon.com, beauty supply and in salon’s in over 21 countries.

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