Yes, y’all, I’m still on an Essence Festival high! I’m still in disbelief at how awesome this past weekend was. For starters, I was able to attend Essence Festival 2017 on behalf of a brand that I absolutely love. Can we say “Dream Come True”? This was my second year representing Cantu Beauty, and the experience exceeded my expectations. If this was any indication of how things will be for years to come, count me in!
Now, let’s start from the beginning: I over-packed my bags (what else is new?) in preparation for New Orleans. I came equipped with all of my Cantu Minis to keep my hair conditioned and protected in the New Orleans heat, and of course, filled my bags with that beautiful Cantu orange, ready to spread the word about their new Refresh and Anti-Fade Collections. (If you attended the Festival, you could spot us a mile away in our Cantu gear and glorious hair.) We had a bomb booth in place in the Hair & Beauty Expo, and the best of the best influencers ready to paint Essence Festival orange! Shout out to Maria Antoinette, Sister Scientist, Constance, JD Winters and all our volunteers.
Day 1 was all about giving back. Cantu loves giving back to the community that spends so much of their time attending events, purchasing products, and spreading the word about all things Cantu. We really do have the best supporters! We teamed up with Essence and Master P for a Day of Service, which included beautifying the outside area of Guste Homes, a retirement home in inner city New Orleans. We also painted the home’s interior and exterior, served the residents breakfast and lunch, and handed out special Cantu goodie bags filled with hair products. It was an honor to kick off the weekend with a selfless act and serve the community, and hearing Master P talk about growing up in this very community was the cherry on top. Being a part of that moment made me proud to represent a brand that really does care about serving others; I’m so excited to participate in more opportunities to give back this year!
Next, it was time to get the Cantu party started at the Ernest N. Morial Convention Center. If you know anything about me, you know I can talk for days about something I love. Well, Essence Fest was no different! I had a blast talking to consumers and educating them on our new products, but I especially loved getting newbies hooked on the Cantu brand! We introduced our new Refresh Collection to some, and used the Refresh Bar to help others learn how to best use the Refresh products they’d already purchased. Sooo many people stopped by our booth, and it was especially special to find familiar faces from last year's festival. Of course, we snapped tons of pictures. (Side note: It still feels surreal when people recognize me as Melissa Chanel, but it lets me know that the path I chose was the right one for me.)
The Hair & Beauty Expo also allowed me the opportunity to spend time at the Wal-mart booth helping consumers decide which Cantu products were right for them. It was the only booth where people could purchase products, and I’m so proud to say we were sold out by Sunday morning! Seeing the look of excitement on people’s face when they found “their” product made my day. It really can't get any better than that!
Y’all…at this point, it can kind of go without saying, but the convention center was LIT! So many of my favorite celebrities roamed the halls and graced stages, we got to see interviews with casts of our favorite shows (I’m still dreaming about Jay Ellis and Kofi Siriboe), and we had some of the most delicious food at Essence Eats, which was a section full of local food vendors. A personal highlight? Anthony Anderson stopped by with his gorgeous daughter to get some protective style tips at our Refresh Bar! How cool is that? He asked all the right questions and of course, made sure we got a few laughs in.
Okay, here’s where it gets even harder to come down from Cloud Nine: We wrapped up the weekend with a pool party hosted by yours truly! Yes, lil ol’ Melissa Chanel Cantey from Camden, South Carolina, hosting a pool party at Essence Festival! Can someone pinch me? This was my first time ever hosting a pool party, and I was hosting on behalf of Cantu, so I had been nervous all weekend. I wanted it to be more than perfect, and thanks to hard planning with the Cantu team, it was one for the record books. We celebrated a mind-blowing Essence Festival weekend, enjoyed music, hors d’hourvres, and cocktails, and got our hair refreshed after swimming in the pool. Yes, y’all, beautiful black queens were all up in the pool, fros and melanin both on point! WIN, WIN, WIN. Make sure you check out the #curlsandwaves hashtag on Instagram to check out pics from the pool party!
I worked hard, had a great time, and spent time with a few of my amazing friends who came in town. Janna, Trell, Angela, and Terri were all in town at some point throughout the weekend, and not only did I have their support during the festival, but we had a ball at the concerts and walking the streets of New Orleans. We literally walked ’til our feet burned! So much fun.
If you've never been to an Essence Festival or New Orleans period, you have to take a trip soon. I promise you'll love it!
Oh! Don't worry—I haven't been ignoring all your questions about my Essence Festival outfits. Another post is coming where I spill all the deets on my looks. Stay tuned!