Former MAC Exec Creates Natural Hair Community for Black Australian and New Zealand Women

by Xara Aziz
Courtesy: Aja Bradley-Kemp

One of MAC’s former communications executives has begun an Australian-based natural hair movement after finding that options were limited for women on the continent who wore natural hair.

After living in Australia for several years, Aja Bradley-Kemp, who wears her hair naturally curly, created the Love My Curls Festival, the first of its kind to celebrate naturals in Australia and New Zealand. The impetus for the event was through an agency she built shortly after leaving MAC.

Bradley-Kemp, a seasoned marketing and event designer professional who has helped to build the brands for top global brands including Expedia, Sunglass Hut and Reebok, decided to create Conversate Collective, an experiential events agency passionate about helping businesses create meaningful connections with their audience. She would use her experience to create a natural hair movement, according to a profile of her in Black Enterprise.

The 20-plus-year marketing veteran said that her experience was part of why she wanted to create an “empowering environment” for women with natural hair as a way to incorporate diversity and inclusion among the Black Australian hair community.

Before Bradley-Kemp decided to go natural, she used relaxers and texturizers before exploring protective styles to help with severe breakage she suffered from the use of chemicals on her hair.

“There’s no holy grail or product cocktail that works for everyone. We all have different needs and lifestyles,” she said. “The more you understand how a product works, what ingredients are in the formula and how it should be applied, the more confident you will be in taking care of your hair.”

When she finally decided to go natural, she said that the lack of tools and resources for women with natural hair in Australia inspired her to create a movement of her own, bringing together a community of women with natural hair who shared the same experiences.

While living in Australia, she said, “[I] could never just run to a store and pick up products for a wash and go or twist out. I either had to have friends and family send them to me or stock up when I visited the U.S.”

But when she moved back to the U.S. in 2015, she found that the natural hair movement was taking effect, and she knew she could go back to the other side of the ocean to bring with her what she had learned being back in the States.

“I was just in awe of the amount of products, education, and conversation that was readily available for women here,” she said. “I wanted to provide that access and community to my girlfriends in Australia that were having the same challenges caring for their hair that I was.”

She continued: “Our goal with Love My Curls is to cut down on the amount of time, money, trial and error it takes to figuring out what the right products are for you. At the festival, in addition to providing access to the brand representatives, we had a full day of live demonstrations, product spotlight sessions and panel discussions to ensure there was plenty of hands-on education being provided.”

The event now boasts a growing group of women who empower each other through healthy, natural haircare.

“I was touched to hear stories from young children and grown women about how grateful they were to have a community who could relate to their experiences of growing up in a society where straight hair was the prevailing beauty standard and their natural curls were viewed as unruly and unkept,” Bradley-Kemp said about Love My Curls. “While we share some similarities with our Australian sisters, the conversations and challenges for women with natural hair are different in Australia than the U.S. But, at a basic level, Love My Curls is about celebrating our hair and bringing women together who all have the same goal – to get poppin’ curls, a healthy crown, and feel confident in the process!”

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