The following is an unedited press release:
"While most 26-year-olds are toasting champagne when the ball drops on New Year’s, on January 1, 2013, best friends Jessica Boyd and Maureen Ochola were imagining something new and exciting for the Palmetto State. Like most of the nation, South Carolina has witnessed a growing population of black women choosing to sport their naturally textured hair over chemically or heat-damaged straight strands. And with intimate knowledge of this community’s unique hair support needs --physically, emotionally, and socially-- Boyd and Ochola set on a mission to nurture the revival of this “hairitage” right at home.
The Miss Naturally Crowned pageant is the duo’s first creative solution to encouraging greater natural hair acceptance wherever people live, work, and play. Held annually in their hometown of Columbia since April 2014, Miss Naturally Crowned is South Carolina’s first beauty pageant for women with naturally kinky, curly, and dreadlocked hair. Miss Naturally Crowned pageants award cash prizes and sponsored natural hair and beauty products, apparel, jewelry, and other lifestyle/business products and services to women ages 19-30 who want to further their education or, the big twist, launch their own businesses. The event has been recognized by major national media like Essence, Black Enterprise, the Tom Joyner Morning Show, and Mic.com for its novelty and combined celebration of natural hair and women scholars and entrepreneurs.
The third annual Columbia pageant recently hosted a sold out venue of 400 guests in April, and this June, Boyd and Ochola will host the inaugural Miss Naturally Crowned Charleston pageant, continuing their celebration of scholarship, entrepreneurship, and unapologetic authenticity. The inaugural judges panel includes women-preneurs and Charleston tastemakers such as Johnny Caldwell and Taneka Reaves of the Cocktail Bandits, Deona Smith of the Sister Summit, Former Miss North Charleston USA Victoria Rae, Erica Alcox of Charleston Crunch Co., and Tzipporah Baxter of the Tzipporah Braiding Studio.
Ochola says, “Miss Naturally Crowned is important because of the impact it has on both the contestants and even communities beyond our immediate reach. The confidence that our participants exude, not only as they shatter beauty standards, but also as they share their life’s dreams on stage –it’s unspeakable how inspiring that’s been to people of all walks of life.”
The inaugural Miss Naturally Crowned Charleston pageant will take place on Friday, June 24, 2016, at The American Theater, 446 King Street, Charleston, SC. Select vendors will open to ticketed guests at 5 PM, and the pageant will begin promptly at 6 PM. Contestant applications are being accepted online until May 15th at www.naturallycrownedcharleston.com, where $10 early bird tickets are also on sale until May 31st.