In the last two years, natural hair has become one of the largest movements within the African American community. Going natural is like going green with hair, choosing not to wear chemical straighteners and smoothers or permanent wave treatments. With the rising number of people going natural, there is also a great demand for information and inspiration.
With the World Natural Hair Show in Atlanta being the largest event of its kind, hundreds of naturals will attend to learn, shop and celebrate the beauty and versatility of natural hair. While there is this very large show that takes place twice a year, there are many small groups within cities that host meetups and workshops. Whether in a salon or a cafe, natural hair meetups are also on the rise.
What is a meetup exactly? It is a designated day, time and location where like minded people get together to network, share and grow as a group. Meetups can be informative or purely social as well.
Everyday a new aspiring natural hair meetup host is planning their first event, so I have created a simple guide for the meetup host to use in preparation for his or her meetup. Grab a notebook and pen to start jotting down ideas!
Planning a natural hair event can be tedious to do if you are not experienced. Having a guide to help you along the way will make planning easier and more efficient for a successful event.
There are several things to consider and steps to take to ensure you have a great event, but you should also consider having a “Plan B” for your event (including venue, food or if a presenter doesn’t show).
Read this guide and jot down your answers to the questions to help you determine what you will and will not do or have at your meetup. Whether it is your first or tenth time hosting an event, there is always something to learn to make your guests’ experiences a positive one.
Choose a date and time
When planning a meetup, be mindful of the date and time. If you want to talk about natural hair care in hot and humid weather or for the active woman who may swim and work out, you might not want to do so in November.
The time of day also is important as you may not want to host a wine and cheese mixer at noon on a Wednesday. If you have a following, you may want to survey your group to see what days and times work best for them. Your theme, date, time and location should all coincide somehow, if at all possible. But by all means, work with what you have and make it great!
Choose a theme
Planning the right kind of event is very important. It may be difficult to have a children’s meetup in a coffee shop as it may be daunting to have a workshop presenter at a picnic in the park.
You will want to choose a theme and style of event based on the venue and vice versa. Be sure that, when selecting your theme, you will be able to have certain components at the location you choose.
Many natural hair events have swag bags with product samples and coupon codes for guests to take advantage of. A lot of times, swag comes with a paid ticket or is limited to the first 10 people or however many swag bags you have.
Offering swag bags is a great way to gain more attention for your event and recruit more guests.
Choose a location
Location, location, location! It is important where we live and how close it is to work, school and shopping and it is just important for a meetup planner to find venues that are suitable for your needs.
Hosting a banquet in a conference room would not be conducive and hosting a fashion show at the beach may not be suitable unless it fits the theme.
Be mindful of your venue’s policies, whether or not smoking is allowed and what you can use when decorating. Those are important notes to be clear on to avoid extra costs after the event is over.
Admission or Free
Not all events have to be a paid event, but it is important to know when to charge and when to offer something for free. Will there be other ways to make money on your free event?
For instance, if you host a meetup where attendance is free but you have vendors and they rent booth space, then you stand to profit from the event.
Promote and Invite
Planning an event comes with promoting and advertising as well as creating a guest list of attendees. Unless you know you can always expect a faithful number of guests, it is ok to over promote.
It has been said, as a rule of thumb, that you if you invite 100, expect 50 or less and so on. If you are selling tickets and a space has a limit, be sure not to over sell your event, which could be an uncomfortable experience.
During the event, have a great time, take lots of photos, get email contacts and follow up with your guests, thanking them for coming or conducting a survey to see how you did.