OUSC’s Hair Expo celebrates natural hair


Bridget Janis, Staff Reporter

To celebrate African American Celebration Month, Oakland University Student Congress (OUSC) put on a Hair Expo on Friday, Feb. 8 to highlight the importance of taking care of natural hair.

“It was important because I felt like in the past we [did] a lot of politically charged events when it comes to these diversity months,” OUSC Diversity and Inclusion Director Destinee Rule said. “I was thinking, as a black woman, ‘What was the central part of my childhood?’ and it was going to hair expos.”

A hair expo is where people can come together and celebrate their natural hair as well as get tips on how to maintain a natural and healthy glow to their hair.

Dāo means DefyAllOdds, also sold at Macy’s in Twelve Oaks Mall, was one featured vendor. Dāo has a seven product line that includes a gentle cleanser, renewing scalp conditioner, repair and growth deep conditioner, daily moisturizing spray, revitalizing leave-in conditioner, stimulating growth and repair oil, and an uber defining gel. They also can come in kits and groups of products, and are all made from natural ingredients.

“[DefyAllOdds] is such a meaningful phrase to us because it really doesn’t just represent hair products, it represents a movement,” Erin Patten, co-founder and CEO of Dāo Detroit, said, “and we really are about encouraging people to love themselves as they are, really encouraging people to own their identity and really encouraging people to love others as well.”

There were other locally owned vendors that attended the event and shared their products: Ashley’s Glow, a business run by an OU student selling makeup such as lip glosses and highlighters; Ella Jae Essentials, run by an OU graduate that has a line of hair care and body care products; and L.O.V.E Naturally, which provides a support group for those who have natural hair, want natural hair or are curious about natural hair.

During the keynote speech, Patten talked about her journey through school and her experiences with internships. Rule said the main reason she invited Patten was because students can connect to her hair stories.

“Her entire story was everywhere, her academic background is going to be relatable as well, and also the fact that she had a large company with her partner was something I also wanted to highlight,” Rule said. “Also, I was ready and happy to put allocations and resources to make sure she was able to come speak. I thought she had a good message.”

While Patten was working at one of her first jobs, her employer told her her hair, in her curly afro, was not appropriate for the work environment and violated company policies.

“I [was] at a place that didn’t accept me for my true self, and at the end of the day was saying that ‘actually you’re inappropriate in our environment,’” Patten said. “And so after much deliberation, I ended up submitting my letter of resignation the next day. I never was my full self again. I was very conscientious about how I wore my hair, about how I dressed, about how I talked. It was really an intention of mine to blend and fit in and, and not stand out.”

According to Rule, the main takeaway for students is hair is culturally important, and education about natural hair is essential.

“I really want OU students to leave feeling like OU hosted an event and dedicated money to making something that’s more personal to people,” Rule said, “and for students that are not people of color to understand hair is a really big part of our culture, and we have the proper education about hair.”