A Sea Of Sisters
New Orleans. Summertime. Our crew of four were fueled by the excitement of the unknown. 500,000 attendees where expected to convene in the Big Easy for Essence Fest 2019. This would be our largest Black Women's Expo to date and we couldn't wait to see how the days would unfold. It was about to be on and poppin.'
After a half day of set up we joined the rest of the vacationers enjoying a sweltering 4th of July evening along the French Quarter. The charm of New Orleans had already seeped in; the multi-cultural influenced architecture with their brick, iron and pastel colored plantation shutters welcomed us into the nationwide celebration. Fireworks over the Mississippi River illuminated the sky as we prepared to welcome our own guests down at the convention center in a few short hours.
Just like the fireworks, the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center exploded with activity as soon as the doors opened. For the next three days there would be a parade of brown skinned women painting the aisles with a wide variety of hues and shades.
And these ladies all looked snatched in their summer gear and custom Girls Trip tees! It was an amazing site to see. We represented sisters of all ages, all shapes and sizes, and all backgrounds. We came ready to party with our daughters, our sorors, and most definitely our posses! The sense of camaraderie hung in the air and permeated everyone who breathed it in.
The conversations and connections are the true essence of the Essence Festival. As you got to know the ladies - - where they were from, who they came with, how many times they had been -- their faces became more and more familiar. These same faces would return within the same day, and over the rest of the weekend. We met women from all over the U.S. and an unprecedented amount from the United Kingdom. It was an honor to know our products would be uplifting and inspiring across the world. As someone who has been a fan of Shades of Color for years I am always uplifted when I can connect with other fans and see how wide our 'squad' truly is.
We reunited with past customers. We bonded with other vendors. The homecoming feeling rhythmically moved through each row. Frankie Beverly. Beyonce. Kirk Franklin. Chaka Kahn. A second line grooved down the main aisle. Even the vendors couldn't help but bounce to the beat. Music pumped through the speakers and a sense of lineage pumped through our bodies. Attending the Essence Festival truly is more like a family affair, an element that makes it a real treasure to be a part of. The sea of sisterhood made our entrance to Essence Fest one to remember proving it is the GOAT of conventions. We look forward to connecting with our newfound sisters over the coming months. There's no doubt Essence Fest 2020 is going to be even more lit. Same time, same place ladies? See you next year!!
Written by Janine Kai