At least once a week I receive a social media comment or email from a fellow naturalista asking if and when I will do an event in their area. I receive almost as many emails from aspiring event planners wanting some information and knowledge on how to plan a natural hair event in their area.
I have been planning events for over 14 years (it’s probably 15 now). I created the #1 multi-city natural hair meet up in the world–International Natural Hair Meetup Day. On one day a year, over 50 cities hold natural hair events on one day. For 7 years, I oversaw a collegiate event planning office that provided operational support for over 8,000 events annually–from meetings to lectures to concerts.
While advertising my own events or events for INHMD, people often lament about the lack of events in their area. They claim, “there is never a natural hair event in my area.” or “I wish they would do something like this in my area.” Well–there could be events like this in your community. But it’s up to you.
The #1 reason there are not natural hair events in your area is easy…..
More specifically–a lack of support. And unfortunately, this lack of support is universal. I have event planning friends who struggle in NYC as much as I struggle in a college-sized town in North Carolina.
What I mean by support is BUYING tickets or PAYING registration fees. Heck, even if the event is free and only requires an RSVP, do that. Whatever the “call to action” is that allows the planning and execution of an event to continue, please support it.
Let me let you in on the quietly kept secret in the event planning community….
IT COSTS MONEY TO PRODUCE AN EVENT
Unfortunately, venues do not allow us to pay based on the number of likes, promises or FB RSVPs we receive. They require cold, hard, cash.
This post is not intended to offend or is directed to people who have financial hardships. But I follow some of y’all on Instagram–and see your hauls…..
I hear you saying, “But don’t you get the swag donated?” Sometimes. But not always. And even if we do, do you want us to put it in a Wal-Mart bag? What I am trying to get everyone to understand is–there are expenses related to producing an event that cannot be paid when you buy your ticket at the door.
My squad of event planners and I seek to provide the most excellent events possible for the audiences we serve. We want you to have a great time, meet great people, get great gifts and learn great information that will help you on your natural hair journey.
Effects of Not Supporting Events
- Compromise on elements of excellence: We would love to provide decor, ambience at our events. But when ticket sales are lackluster or slow, we are not able to order that special element that would have improved or enhanced your experience.
- Prevents bringing special guests (i.e., bloggers) to events: I know a lot of you want to see some of your favorite natural hair personalities at events. Unfortunately they can’t present an I.O.U. at the airline ticket counter and board a plane. We use money generated from ticket sales to help cover their travel expenses and honorariums.
- Cancellation and Elimination of Events: Even some of my event planning friends with larger followings than I have cancelled events due to lackluster ticket sales. And when I look at the comments under the graphic showing the event has been cancelled, saying “awwwwww I was just about to buy my ticket!” I’m like….
- Reduce or Eliminate the desire to host events in our area: Unfortunately, repeated issues with a lack of support and lackluster ticket sales for events can lead to some planners no longer having the desire to plan events. I have friends that have declared they will no longer host events because the support is lackluster at best and trickles in. Some no longer host in their home towns or areas in which they reside because they actually gain more support from those outside of their area.
I have a lot of natural hair event planning friends. And friends that do other events that cater to a similar audience. We do these events from the heart and because we care. We don’t neglect our family and friends just for anything. We don’t endure sleepless nights and crabby people just for some coins. Because honestly, there isn’t always a lot of money to be made in what we do. We do it from the heart. I often find the ones that do not do events well are in it for the wrong reasons–and it shows in the events they produce.
Benefits to supporting events through early ticket sales
- Set a trend: Don’t wait to see what other people do before you buy a ticket. Lead the charge. Be ahead of the crowd. You make an event in your area seem like the most happening place to be–simply because you’re there. So many friends and acquaintances have hit me up saying, “are you going?” and when I tell them yes, they say, “Good. I was waiting to see if you were before I bought my ticket.” I am a party all by myself honey! LOL
- Possibility for increased swag or giveaways: I have had sponsors come on board AFTER an event has sold out–because they see the PROOF it’s already a success. When you wait to get your tickets, it is sometimes difficult (in heart and spirit) to get additional swag.
I totally understand that there are some “event planners” out here that are playing dress up. And I know that after spending your hard earned money, taking time to get dressed AND put on some makeup, you do not want to attend anything unprofessional or disorganized. And I know that after an experience like that you can be reluctant to purchase again. But there will be other events, or other event planners. In fact, why don’t you be the change you want to see? If you went to a less than stellar event, you at least know what not to do. And that’s a great starting point for creating events that attendees (or at least you and your crew) will love!
How can you support a natural hair, or women of color centered event in your area? I’m glad you asked!
Buy a ticket in advance: I think I’ve stressed this point enough. But just to clarify–buy BEFORE THE EVENT. Preferably as soon as tickets go on sale. That way we can honor our expenses in a timely manner and release the burden of that stress so even we as hosts can enjoy the event. If you cannot, then 7-10 days prior is ok too. Buying tickets the day before or at the door (if they are offered) should only be reserved for situations where you just found out you were available to attend.
Share events with your community. It costs you little to nothing (except time) to share events on your page, on your profile, on your profile or within a group. If there is an event from a planner you know or an event that looks appealing or interesting–please share! If you were planning something that required others to attend, I’m sure you would hope someone in your sphere of influence would share it on your behalf.
Tag your friends in events in your area. If you see an event and know of people in the state or area, tag them in it. Or forward it to them. We don’t know what we don’t know. So share with someone you know in that area.
There are people entering the natural hair community every day. And although you may be past the point of needing them–for someone else, it’s vital. We can continue to make this community great by supporting natural hair events, through our ticket purchases, sharing and tagging. If we each do a little, we can accomplish a lot!