Global Excellence Awards 2020

Page 18 LUX 2020 Global Excellence Awards The Olympics, Glastonbury and the Edinburgh Festival were all cancelled in 2020 but we knew failure wasn’t an option for us; we were going to deliver World Afro Day® 2020. However, like the majority of global events and companies, we were facing unprecedented times and we had to innovate or give up, but we were not prepared to write off this year. But it was going to take a lot of faith to pull it off. World Afro Day (WAD), on the 15th September is an annual day of change, education and celebration of Afro hair. Since 2017 it has been endorsed by the UN Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. Afro hair discrimination; mainly affects people from African descent but the event is for everyone. We do things differently because a celebration is rarely used to tackle racial problems but our positive approach has worked very successfully and it has been embraced, across different ethnic and socio-economic groups. Our mission is to end Afro hair discrimination using creative solutions and collaboration. We stand out on our own in our field because no one really does what we do. Every year, we innovate which includes a World Record, WAD Awards Show, The Big Hair Assembly, The Top Ten Model Competition and World Afro Day Live. We are not like other hair events, which focus mainly on beauty and products. We make headline news by pioneering events, research and resources and we have successfully brought a marginalised topic into the mainstream. World Afro Day has received international media coverage, reaching over 10 million people, including Hollywood A-listers, International business brands and the United Nations. The Afro hair market is incredibly attractive to all the global cosmetics companies and there are new brands entering the market all the time. Some have even taken up the campaign for Afro hair equality too. However, we are unique and our cause is authentic so many competitors seek to join us as opposed to beat us. Our approach to covid-19 was to be even more ambitious. We played to our strengths of being a global brand so going online was not a second choice but an opportunity to be more inclusive. We had to plan our event without any financial backing because the world was in economic turmoil but we kept going and then global sponsor Cantu came through with just a few weeks to spare. The event had contributors from the USA, Brazil, Anguilla, Belgium, South Words by World Afro Day following its recognition as “Best Global Afro Hair Celebration Organisation in the UK”. Nov20358 World Afro Day Pioneers in the Pandemic Africa and the UK. We also expanded our territory into Brazil by working with groups in the UK and in Brazil. Plus, we translated the World Afro Day Live Show into Brazilian Portuguese, which was our first venture in another language! As well as going big, we also went small because we focused on children that needed our help. We saw how much the pandemic was affecting the lives of young people so we launched the brand, new Top Ten Model project. This was a video competition to empower young people to make films about their hair. We brought in a high-profile judging panel, including Vogue photographer Misan Harriman, Supermodel Eunice Olumide and TV Medic Dr Zoe Williams. This helped give young people a positive focus during the first lockdown and the winners were a focal point for World Afro Day Live. Our social media followers were also really encouraged by our positive content in extremely difficult times. We produced a high- end photoshoot including catwalk coaching, professional hair, makeup, photography and videography for the young winners. Plus, the images appeared in several top magazines. The young people were thrilled to showcase Afro hair in such a glamorous way. Our biggest achievement was appearing in national news programmes, calling for change from School Leaders and then breakthrough came, when five major teaching unions backed our call to end Afro hair discrimination in UK Schools. They are now collaborating with us, which means that our work could potentially impact, millions of young people in the future. Going forward, we will be adapting to the immense pressure that schools are under by providing extra support for teachers through our website and we will be bringing back, The Big Hair Assembly. Many teachers can no longer deliver creative subjects and extra-curricular activities so we want to do an international competition for pupils and capitalise on the success and unity of our previous format. The expectation is that it will be bigger and better next time with more international contributors. In 2019 we had 11,500 pupils sign up but what if that turned into 11,500 schools! We are a small non-profit company, which has a huge global impact, even though we are run by just three, part time volunteers! We are a multicultural team and we bring in freelancers to deliver our events but this means that our people are dynamic, passionate and committed to the cause. This year was an incredibly challenging time because Black people were dying at a higher rate from covid, there was George Floyd’s death and then international protests. Even one of our own team, was shielding but we still went ahead with our model photoshoot and international event regardless. We are incredibly proud of what we achieved in a nightmare scenario and we are also optimistic that the global trends in diversity and inclusion; will yield great partnerships in the future. Credits: Photography: Alina By | Clothes: Gitas Portal Styling: Karine Laudort | MUA: RPWbeauty Hair: Purely Natural Salon