CurlFest 2017




By Kareemah Muhammad

Saturday July 15th The UPN was on the scene for one of the most anticipated events for women of color: CurlFest. Friends and families gathered at Prospect Park in Brooklyn, NY to show off their amazing curls, style and shop with the top beauty brands in the business.

CurlFest is now in its fourth year and was started by co-founders Charisse Higgins, Melody Henderson, Simone Mair, Tracey Coleman and Gia Lowe.

“We’ve been working on this for…almost a year and it’s just humbling and amazing to see it be what it is today,” says Charisse.




Charisse Higgins, Co-Founder of the Curly Girl Collective


Founders of the Curly Girl Collective (l-r, Melody Henderson, Tracey Coleman, Gia Lowe, Simone Mair, and Charisse Higgins)

Festivalgoers were able to see the CurlFest co-founders and the CEO’s/Executives of their favorite beauty brands during a panel discussion. These brands included Shea Moisture, Mielle Organics and Iman Cosmetics.  The representatives of these brands got to share their new campaigns and product launches like Mielle Organics new Mongongo Oil line that was launched at the fest.

Owner of Shea Moisture, Richelieu Dennis speaks on the panel with other CEO’s/Executives from Crème of Nature, Tropic Isle Living, Iman Cosmetics and Mielle Organics

One topic of discussion was on responding to consumer’s needs. Monique Rodriguez, Founder and CEO of Mielle Organics stated,

“I don’t believe in formulating products and putting it out on the market of what I think that you want to buy, I actually listen.”

Not only did festival attendees get the latest insights from the brands they love, they also got their hair and makeup done, exclusively by stylists from brands like Iman Cosmetics, Clairol and Mielle Organics.


They also had a game zone and “Empowerment Circle” featuring speakers such as celebrity hair guru Ursula Stephens and filmmaker Spike Lee who brought the cast of his upcoming Netflix series “She’s Gotta Have It.”

With over 50 vendors, CurlFest had everything from artwork to clothing that embraced the black experience and the attendees were here for it!

One of the vendors included Harlem Candle Company founded by Teri Johnson. Teri spoke on the experience that she wanted festivalgoers to have with her products at CurlFest stating,

“I want people to experience the essence of the Harlem Renaissance through our collection of evocative fragrances inspired by cultural luminaries, jazz legends and people who came before us.”


Teri Johnson, Founder of Harlem Candle Company

Lest not we forget, the style and of course, THE HAIR was impeccable! The curlistas, naturalistas (& gents) proved why curls are to be celebrated and show that the style cannot be duplicated. I made sure to include the event highlights and all those who SLAYED, below!

All in all CurlFest truly exemplified what it means to love and embrace all curls, kinks and frizz while feeling empowered for doing so!

To learn more about CurlFest and the Curly Girl Collective be sure to follow them @curlygirlcollective on Instagram. For news, events and updates on the Urban Professionals Network (UPN) visit us at and follow us on Instagram @theupn.

About Kareemah:


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New Opportunities

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New Opportunities Inc. is the community action agency that serves Waterbury, Meriden, Torrington and 27 surrounding Connecticut towns. We offer a variety of social service programs designed to eliminate poverty and assist people in need.

Headquartered in Waterbury and the cities fourth largest employer, New Opportunities has additional offices in Meriden, Torrington, Danbury and Thomaston for the convenience of those they serve. Annually, more than 70,000 individuals benefit from programs offered at this agency, guided by the New Opportunities staff who helped them find the way to meet their needs.

In accordance with the mission of New Opportunities, the Agency aims to increase the self-sufficiency of its customers and support their move out of poverty toward a more middle-class lifestyle.

James H. Gatling, Ph.D.

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Dr. Gatling has employed a blend of operational expertise with his ability to develop relationships among culturally diverse groups, strong team building and consensus building skills and persistence to achieve a dramatic expansion of programming in the New Opportunities service area and make significant contributions as well to the development and implementation of statewide and regional community action programs.

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The mission of the Connecticut Association of Foster and Adoptive Parents is to strengthen foster, adoptive and kinship care families through support, training and advocacy with the aim of nurturing child safety, well-being and stability in partnership with child welfare professionals and the entire community.  AboutUs

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CAFAP’s vision is that the citizens of Connecticut recognize that family life is a necessity for all children. The family creates the optimum environment for appropriate responses to a child’s developmental and specialized needs. We also envision that foster, adoptive and kinship care families are of an adequate number, skill and cultural diversity to assure high quality care for all children who need out-of-home placement. This knowledge, skill and attitude will be transmitted through peer to peer empowerment. Lastly, CAFAP strives to help develop communities that are engaged in meeting the unique needs of foster and adoptive children and in supporting their resource families.


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