Have you ever wanted to be in a space where you can comfortably embrace your natural kinks and curls without your “professionalism” being questioned? On March 11-12, Blossoms & Sol Hair Festival will be held in Houston and will allow Black women to connect with themselves, fellowship among their peers and celebrate their cultural identities.
Coco Bates is a digital creative, influencer and the brains behind the festival. The Waller, Texas native sais it’s the first time they’ve hosted the festival in Houston since its inception three years ago in Austin and that celebrating “our cultural identity and our diverse beauty while being free to be as bold and as unapologetic as we would like to be is crucial to our collective healing journey.”
The Defender spoke with Bates to learn about her journey as a creative and what Houston should look forward to ahead of the festival.
Defender: Tell us more about yourself. Who is CoCo Bates?
Coco Bates: [I am] someone who likes to live life unapologetically and to the fullest potential. I don’t believe in conforming to any kind of stereotypes. I’m a blogger, and I’ve been blogging for about 10 years. I use to live in New York for five years and took street fashion photography and needed a platform to put all my material. I started a blog and got invited to different fashion shows and wrote about the events and over time it is what led me to where I am today.
Defender: What influenced your interest into the beauty and wellness space?
Bates: My family takes so much pride into their physical presence and how they present themselves to the world. It wasn’t about the makeup, but preserving the beauty that was naturally given to them. They exuded Black pride and they took care of themselves and that is what led me into the field. As far as wellness, I’ve been on a journey to self-improvement. There is always room for improvement. If you understand Black history and what Black people especially women have been through, we tend to put our mental health in the back seat and pour from an empty cup to service others.
Defender: Did you have a traditional career before entering into content producing full time?
Bates: I guess my job history is like a millennial. I’ve always bounced around from one job to the other to see what I could get as the best offer. I started doing public relations for a little bit. I was doing influencer marketing but on the brand end as well as some freelance work but I wasn’t really fulfilled because it wasn’t my true purpose.
DN: Read what you’ll be seeing at the Blossom and Sol Hair Fest
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Defender: How do you balance creating quality content about travel and wellness while prioritizing your self-care and wellness?
Bates: I listen to my body. I have a relationship with my body. I don’t force anything at all. If I’m not in the mood or if I don’t feel creative, I don’t force it. I go with the flow. This is also what I started doing, but I like to go with the flow of my natural biological clock…I make sure I have enough energy to put into my creative process. I like to be around people and things that feed me, like nature; setting boundaries with myself and other people.
Defender: You are hosting the third annual Blossom & Sol fest in Houston. What was your vision behind the festival?
Bates: Honestly, it wasn’t supposed to be anything big. I believe around 2017 or 2018 I got a press pass to cover SXSW. I was excited yet unfulfilled because they had a few panels on diversity and there weren’t enough Black people which was a red flag to me. I knew I wasn’t alone in my sentiment. So, I told myself that I wanted to be a part of SXSW some way. I created a small meetup where Black women will have a safe space to talk to vibe out.
When I posted it [on social media] a lot of people were interested in it. I had to go about finding an actual venue at an HBCU in Austin. Galvanizing this many women meant we had to talk about other things than beauty, we had to talk about health and creative entrepreneurship and things that help us become better people.
Defender: What can Houston expect to see this year?
Coco: This is the first time we have done a two-day festival. In the past we’ve always incorporated wellness, which involves yoga. On the first day we will have two yoga instructors, and then we will have someone focusing on meditation with the sounds of African drums. We’ll have tons of vendors and healthy food options as well. This is also a celebration of our natural hair. This is how I honor my ancestors. It’s denouncing the Eurocentric ideals of beauty.
With Blossom, it doesn’t matter what hair texture you have, we encourage you to be unapologetic. Creating safe spaces for healing for Black women is my passion. This is a time to connect with ourselves. We shouldn’t feel the need to go outside the community for assistance with especially when our community is full of resources. Nothing in this world moves without the creative genius of Black people.