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CurlyCon Behind the Scenes: Inside Look at How EBA Planned Our Own Curly-Hair Conference

CurlyCon 2022 was a great success!

You better believe that when an event planner channels their passion to produce an event that means something to them personally, it’s going to be damn good. And that came alive with Eventistry by Alecia’s recent curly-hair conference, CurlyCon. For years, EBA’s Founder, Alecia May, searched far and wide for a conference that would provide accessible education surrounding care for curly locks. She didn’t find anything. So, she decided to host her own.

CurlyCon is the first immersive, virtual event bringing together curly, wavy, kinky, coily-haired people who are looking to take charge of their curls.

So, want to go behind the scenes and uncover the high-level overview of how an award-winning, six-figure event planner plans, markets, and executes their own event? Let’s get to it.

The Planning

CurlyCon’s goal is always to bring together exceptional brands and industry experts to lead sessions, showcase products, answer questions, and educate on the curl journey they are on. Pulling together an event of this caliber isn’t easy. The team worked 40-60+ hour weeks just on CurlyCon to plan and execute this powerful, community-building event.

Timeframe

In 2020, Alecia hosted her first EBA event, Own the Future Summit. After the great success of the event, she knew that that wasn’t the last event the company had to host to support and empower women globally. As a curly-haired woman who couldn’t find an accessible event to help her learn more about how to master and love her curls, she came up with the idea for CurlyCon.

So, cue a global pandemic and a total business restructure and plans got a bit on the back burner. But the fire and passion didn’t dissipate. While navigating these challenges, the EBA team conceptualized and created a purpose and mission to guide CurlyCon planning. Then, over the past six months, they kicked planning into high gear!

Technology

The planning process was all done via Asana and Slack. With 6 team members actively working on the planning, there were a lot of moving pieces to manage. Asana allows you to achieve effective project management. You can take advantage of task management and automated workflows that keep everyone organized. Then, Slack allows for simple communication. As you can imagine, with a remote team there is a ton of planning via live chat and calls.

Contracts

One of the most time-consuming, yet critical parts of the planning process was the contract execution. Every speaker, sponsor, and influencer had an individualized contract created by our EBA lawyer. This is to protect the interests of not only EBA but these wonderful partners too! We always recommend incorporating thorough contracts into your planning process.

They should address obligations, pricing, timelines, etc.! Any questions about contracts for your events should go to a lawyer with experience in the events world.

Pricing

One of the first parts of the planning phase was also determining event attendee pricing. Understanding that the last few years have been tumultuous for many, Alecia’s number one goal was accessibility. She wanted anyone who wanted to attend to have that opportunity! So, based upon industry trends right now, the team decided on a tiered pricing option.

  • Standard registration was free.
  • Premium registration which included recordings of the sessions post-event was $47.
  • VIP Access which included exclusive sessions, one-on-one curl coaching, networking events, and a VIP box valued at $600 CAD with all our fave curly hair products.

Again, remember this is just super high-level. We want to share the most important tidbits so you can implement them for your next event!

The Marketing

Event marketing is just as important as the planning. Without it, you don’t have attendees! We typically start promo for a live event sooner, but for this virtual event we started about three months prior to the event. We started the CurlyCon Instagram account and started from the ground up. In that short time, we’ve been able to grow to an audience of nearly 2,500 that lended to over 1,500 event registrations. How? Through influencer marketing and paid Facebook & Instagram ads.

Influencer Marketing

With our influencer marketing campaigns, we always look for authentic connections. To determine which influencers could help us the most with marketing CurlyCon we first looked for those who were in the curly-hair space in Canada, the U.S., Europe, and Australia. We truly want this to be a powerful global community, so location diversity is key. Next, we had discussions with all of them because we wanted to learn about their communities, engagement, and see their genuine enthusiasm for helping us build this community! And from there, those who we thought were a great fit became part of our campaign and we got contracts executed stat.

Paid Ads

Part of our success was advertising. We leveraged paid ads on both Instagram and Facebook and many of our VIP ticket purchases came from these ads, so we saw some great ROI! For those hosting first-time events that may not have a budget, paid ads may not be accessible. But if you can invest, we highly recommend it.

Media

To kick off the pre-event excitement we started with media all day long. We had media guests join in from local Canadian publications as well as huge global fashion brands like Vogue, Vanity Fair, and InStyle! While this didn’t necessarily bring in attendees for this year, it’s key for brand and community building year-over-year. We love our media partners!

We also engaged our own accounts, email list, clients, etc. The more channels you engage in your event marketing strategy, the greater success you will see.

The Production

Here are a few highlights of how we pulled it together on the day of!

Platform

Virtual event platforms are everywhere today. Ultimately, for engagement, exhibit accessibility, and ease of use, we chose Hopin. They have a great Studio by Streamyard integration that allows you to livestream your sessions and broadcast to attendees super easily, which is also an amazing perk.

Moderators

Our team, along with the influencers and speakers, moderated each session and networking room throughout the event so we could engage audience through live Q&A and make sure tech worked seamlessly. Alecia was joined by Koyia from iHeartRadio as a host for the event!

The Agenda

Over the three-day event, attendees enjoyed nearly 40 sessions and networking opportunities with curly hair experts, influencers, and fellow curly, wavy, kinky, and coily-haired people!

Sessions included:

  • An incredible live keynote
  • Roundtable and panel discussions
  • Open forum-style sessions
  • Small group breakouts

With this, we achieved ultimate engagement from the opportunity to connect with fellow curlies! Check out our Instagram for more in-depth agenda overviews and speaker features.

Attendees loved the opportunity to learn more about how to master their curls and develop self-love surrounding their luscious locks! Jonathan R. shared, “I am so amazed by how much I learned and all the curly hair enthusiasts that I met! Definitely making me look forward to next year’s CurlyCon! I am just super happy that this event is here and is already growing.”

Two sessions we have to highlight are:

Embracing Self Love with Curly, Kinky Hair with Forbes Riley

As curlies, we know how (sometimes) it’s hard to embrace your natural curls. Our keynote speaker Forbes Riley took attendees on a self-love journey, sharing how to navigate the highs and lows of naturally textured hair.

Self-Expression, Culture, and Identity with Coily Hair in the Black Community

This transformational panel discussion, sponsored by Shea Moisture, shed light on the discrimination and misconceptions of textured hair in the black community. Moderators Koiya, iHeartRadio’s on-air host, with panel hosts Jamila Powell, Monae Everett, Tippi Shorter and Camile Janae, and Shea Moistures’ Tyra Jones-Hurst. These inspirational women shared their own experiences as Black women and opened the floor to attendees to share their experiences in a safe space.

Alecia shared, “It’s hard to put yourself in a Black woman’s shoes, so I learned so incredibly much and look forward to learning more from these powerful, incredible women. I hope it helped raise awareness with this community as a whole. Because when we can help share their stories and support, we can intentionally create a more inclusive future for women everywhere. Every woman deserves self-love and to be lifted up by their community, that’s what we want to continue to do with CurlyCon.”

The Future

So, to wrap up, we first and foremost want to say THANK YOU. Thank you to all our speakers, sponsors, partners, and attendees. Because of you, we are able to make CurlyCon the most inclusive and exciting event for curly and kinky hair people.

Looking ahead, we will be the leading #1 curly hair event in US/Canada. Our mission is to continue to empower, educate, and cultivate an inclusive hair community where diversity is expected, self-expression is honored. All are welcome here. And we can’t wait to see what the future holds for this powerful community.

Next year, we expect to make CurlyCon even bigger and better. We will introduce hybrid and in-person elements to strengthen our bonds even further.

Sign up for our email list to be the first to know about CurlyCon 2023! We can’t wait to see you there.

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