Curly Girl Collective Has Been Amplifying Black Beauty For Over a Decade

Blackness in Brooklyn has birthed some of the baddest, boldest and most beautiful gatherings in the world, and one of the best is Curly Girl Collective’s CURLFEST—a celebration of textured hair, community, and melanin magic.

Ten years ago, founders Gia Lowe, Charisse Higgins, Melody Henderson, Tracey Coleman and Simone Mair planted the seeds for CGC, as it’s affectionately called, in an online chat group for naturalistas. Noticing that many of the members were anxious to meet up in person, the community expanded beyond the web.

In 2014, a sea of Afro’d, loc’d, and braided beauties gathered for the first CURLFEST in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, sharing styling tips, product recommendations and pure joy. In 2019, the festivities moved to Randall’s Island Park and added a new market in Atlanta, Georgia, resulting in its largest turnout to date—over 45,000 attendees from 42 countries across the globe.

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CURLFEST attendee in Brooklyn.

Omar McKenzie

But in the wake of Covid-19, this year’s CGC naturally went digital, and Cosmo joined for the inaugural CURLFEST Beauty Summit, which featured virtual masterclasses, conversations, and appearances from trailblazers like Erykah Badu and Taraji P. Henson.

In a year marked by social unrest and a racial reckoning, CGC’s mission of affirming women of color is more vital than ever. Next year, the collective is celebrating a decade in the Black beauty game with the launch of a commemorative book, CURLFEST, 5 Years in Brooklyn. We caught up with co-founder and strategic partnerships director Gia Lowe to reflect on all the magic of their journey.

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Cosmo: Let’s talk about the early beginnings of CGC. How did you first come together and what was the impetus for creating this space?

Gia Lowe: Back in 2009 or so—before the Instagrams of the world—there was a group of us that found each other online through word of mouth and referrals. It was a Google group called The Natural Hair Thread. We were at the beginning of this modern resurgence of the natural hair movement, exchanging tips about the best products for our beauty needs because we weren’t finding things out in the world [that worked for us]. We were also having real conversations that faced our community like, ‘How do you show up to interviews as a Black woman with natural hair? Do you throw on a wig? Do you throw on a weave? What is dating like in this space? What are the challenges that we’re facing?’ We were exchanging ideas about life that were rooted in hair.

curlfest
Gia Lowe, co-founder and Strategic Partnerships Director at CURLFEST

CURLFEST

Cosmo: How did you transition to taking these conversations offline and creating a physical experience?

GL: Around that time our list consisted of about 100 people from all over the world, but a small group of us started gathering

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