Get Ready for the ‘Gram.
By Taya Coates | Contributing Writer
A self-described interactive “black girl magic playground” based in Atlanta is now expanding to the east coast. The Black Hair Experience perfectly visually encapsulates appreciation of all the beautiful black hair culture with a tinge of nostalgia.
The installation includes many rooms that highlight the keys of the Black hair experience like the artistic renditions of a beauty supply shop, salon, and drawer full of combs. Other rooms include bubbly backdrops of classic Black hair magazines as wallpaper and a swing made of two larger-than-life braids. Walls around the exhibit are stamped with empowering statements like ‘NOT A TREND’ and ‘BLACK HAIR IS…’ with visitor answers written below.
The founding Atlanta location opened its doors in mid-November 2020. The exhibit was designed to be a temporary one-month pop-up installation, but demand had other plans. After going viral in less than a month on Instagram and Tiktok, ticket sales were booming.
The idea came to be in 2018 when long-time friends Alisha Brooks and Elizabeth Austin-Davis decided to join forces. Austin-Davis, named one of the Top Wedding Photographers in the world by Harper’s Bazaar in 2020, is a wedding and family photographer in Atlanta. Brooks, also located in Atlanta, works as a visual artist, running her successful sharp T-shirt brand Hello Tee. In an interview with Madamenoire, Brooks explained how she suggested bringing an interactive component to Austin-Davis’ photo project centered around Black hair. The result was a never-seen-before concept that the world was missing.
Photo Credit: @theblackhairexperience on Instagram
The first Black Hair Experience was so successful that within less than a year, they are expanding to another location. Fans in cities worldwide asked for the experience to make a stop in a city near them. The lucky chosen area is the DMV area, central to Washington, D.C., Maryland, and Virginia. This brand new installment is set to open up on May 15 in the heart of the National Harbor.
In addition to the Instagram-worthy experience, the location has a shop featuring apparel with fun slogans like ‘if you can’t handle me at my topknot, then you don’t deserve me at my blowout,’ hair accessories, and a hair lab that sells customizable oils at the Atlanta location.
The impressive execution is vital to note on top of The Black Hair Experience’s stunning aesthetics and design. Two amazing Black women made their vision a reality during a year with much less than favorable conditions. Despite setbacks like dealing with racial bias as two Black women trying to secure spaces for the installation, they persevered. Even after navigating that, additional COVID-19 induced setbacks naturally contradicted their desired in-person experience. In an interview with VogueATL, Austin-Davis stated, “Creating The Black Hair Experience has truly been a labor of love…the pandemic definitely sent us through a loophole…prior to the pandemic, we can’t say it was easy either. However, our partnership is what really kept it together”. All their hard work points to a blooming national sensation.
Tickets start at $32 and are available for purchase for both locations on their website.