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4 Sep 2015

Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show remains America’s largest tribute to black hair

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September 4, 2015 Category: Beauty Posted by:

By Leah Fletcher

The mere mention of the name “Bronner Bros.”, among the Black cosmetology community, evokes thoughts of the country’s largest professional beauty event geared toward women of color—The Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show. To date, it remains the largest gathering of multicultural beauty professionals in the United States and after 68 years it remains a powerful voice in the beauty industry.

The Bronner Bros. show has a reputation for never disappointing. Its electric atmosphere is charged by its iconic hair styling competitions and artistry that include weaves of all colors, hair styles of striking heights, perms, and natural hair—twists , locks and afros. Additionally, fireworks are ignited by celebrity instructors who reveal their road to their success. On the roster were such stylists as Johnny Wright, Artistic Director of Soft Sheen-Carson, and hair dressed First Lady Michelle Obama and Andre Walker, Oprah’s stylist and is responsible for her perfectly coiffed hair style on every cover of O Magazine.

The show, which was held in Atlanta earlier this month, attracted over 22,000 attendees—mostly hairstylist, makeup professionals and beauty entrepreneur. Over 300 exhibitors from as far away as China, Japan and Holland attended. Beauty professionals are drawn to the event because of the array of seminars and presentations designed to provide career development and networking opportunities, while tapping into the reported $600 billion buying potential of the black-hair-care industry.

“I attend every year, twice a year,” said stylist Sheila Stewart. “It helps me learn new hair trends and the latest styling techniques.”  Stewart, who hails from Philadelphia, added that the legendary competitions, which range from wild hair sculptures to intricate nail art, give beauty artists a chance to show off their skills.

Most recently, the company revamped nearly every aspect of its legendary beauty show –show floor and main stage features, registration format, website, show partners, top-notch education offerings, self-service kiosks and entertainment to better cater to beauty professionals and students. For the event, the company partnered with world-class beauty brands including Paul Mitchell and Design Essentials.


According to James Bronner, senior vice president of trade show operations, the cosmetology world has undergone quite a transition from 1947, when Nathaniel Bronner Sr. realized that the beauty products in his sister Emma’s hair salon were selling faster than copies of the local newspaper. Nathaniel and his brother Arthur Bronner Sr. started teaching classes at an Atlanta YMCA, and the trade show evolved naturally from there. The first event hosted 300 attendees — no small feat in the Jim Crow South for two African-American men.

“We want every show to be better than the last one,” James Bronner says. “I analyze everything.” He has to, because the trends are always changing. These days, rising consumer interest in natural hair has resulted in lower sales for salons dedicated to extensions (weaves) and chemically treated hair (perms).   

“Earlier this year, at its annual spring event, the show was revamped and reverted to its founding concepts of education, innovation and empowerment,”noted Bronner, indicating that both spring and summer events were met with unprecedented success.

In prior years, the trade shows, which were open to the public, have become industry-inspired events for industry vendors and licensed cosmetologists, who are anxious to attend classes lead by the industry’s superstars covering everything from cutting techniques to the business of importing hair.

When asked to comment about her overall experience, Stewart noted, “The experience did not disappoint.  I came, I observed, and I learned and I walked away a better industry professional.”

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