RUNGRL Takes NOLA - Essence Festival Recap
By Na'Tasha Jones and Ashlee Lawson
As a newly-launched company, RUNGRL has been hard at work to grow in our mission to be the go-to source for Black women interested in health and wellness, especially through running. So, when we learned that we’d been invited to host a panel on the Essence Festival Lifestyle Stage as part of the weekend’s Wellness and Spirituality program, we were beyond thrilled.
The opportunity to discuss the things we know to be real issues for Black women on such an important and prominent stage was something we knew would resonate with the many beautiful women attending the festival and beyond.
Miles + Mimosas: Back to Your Roots
The panelists, Jasmine Nesi, running expert and co-founder of RUNGRL, Dr. Kristian Henderson, founder of BLK + GRN; and Taliah Waajid, founder of World Natural Health Lifestyle Event, each shared their own perspectives of the effects they see on health and wellness when Black women want to keep their hair healthy.
Moderator Ashlee Lawson dug deep with the ladies, asking them how their hair choices influence a healthy (or not so healthy) lifestyle. Some of the takeaways from the conversation were things that every woman relate to:
“Find a stylist the specializes in natural hair that can teach you about your hair and how to maintain it.” -Taliah Waajid
“Yes, buying green [hair products] is more expensive, but when it comes to your health, you’re going to pay one way or the other. Don’t let it be in medical bills.” - Dr. Kristian Henderson
“For me, going natural was about more than hair. I had to do some introspection as I transitioned to natural hair and learn how to love and take care of myself.” - Jasmine Nesi
Finally, the live hair demonstration was not only engaging, but informative, as local stylist Anastasia Ebel, owner of Baby Bangz Salon, demonstrated quick hairstyles and treatments that can preserve hair for active ladies and help avoid problems like breakage and scalp buildup.
View more photos from the panel on the RUNGRL Facebook page.
Saturday - #EssenceofaRunner
An early rise time was crucial to brave the NOLA heat on Saturday, but the view of the Mississippi River at the New Orleans Riverwalk was worth it.
We promoted this run to all paces, but especially for those who are still new to, or just getting started with, running. After a quick warm-up, an easy pace worked well for everyone and, of course, we treated ourselves to brunch afterwards because ”Beignets and Balance.”
View photos from the Saturday run on the RUNGRL Facebook page.
Sunday - Hangover Run Through the French Quarter
After some major fun for the weekend, we stayed true to our “Balance” motto and met up at The Ace Hotel for our Sunday Hangover Run.
It turned out to be a great way to explore the French Quarter, see the local architecture and street art, and get to know new friends. We got tons of smiles and waves and cheers of “Go Ladies!” from everyone we passed. There are few things that feel better as a runner than the support of your tribe.
Major thanks to Harold and Lindsey, running captains with 504th, a local run crew in NOLA, who came out to support and assisted with planning our routes, and a special shoutout to Matilda aka "Tilly", creator of Fly Girl Collective, who joined us all the way from across the pond!
View photos from the Sunday run on the RUNGRL Facebook page.
We were also thrilled to have accommodations for the weekend at the brand new “Hausotel”, The Moor, by Homage Hospitality. Beautifully renovated and situated on Canal Street in mid-city New Orleans.
RUNGRL was excited to be hosted by Homage Hospitality because our missions are so closely aligned. Like RUNGRL, Homage Hospitality founders Damon Lawrence and Marcus Carey saw a need to create the space they wished to see for themselves in the midst of a world designed to exclude them. They personally welcomed us as the very first guests at The Moor and we are so grateful!
A New Initiative: #MyRunningHair
RUNGRL’s weekend at Essence Festival was also the beginning of a new initiative. Our discussion on the relationship between Black women’s hair care and healthcare helped kick off a new RUNGRL campaign called #MyRunningHair, where we will discuss the many ways our hair affects our decisions around health and fitness and offer suggestions and solutions to overcoming that barrier.