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Hundreds of African-American women poured into the Windward Passage Hotel on St. Thomas and Gertrude’s Restaurant on St. Croix for the first-ever Natural Hair Care Workshop and Exposition.

“Going natural” is a new term that is often used by African-American women who have decided to stop chemically processing or relaxing their hair, and who have turned to natural, organic products instead.

The “I Am Beautiful” hair show brought together hair experts, product retailers and shoppers who have become addicted to the movement of “going natural.”

The workshop is the brainchild of St. Croix resident Denise Benjamin, who runs the website After going natural herself a few years ago, she became inspired to bring the knowledge to others in the territory and began shipping natural hair products to sell in her store, Essentric Shoe Boutique.

Benjamin said by networking, she was able to bring some of the best-known hair celebrities for the show. For example, Felicia Leatherwood from Los Angeles, who has done hair for Will Smith, Jill Scott and Arsenio Hall, gave presentations on both islands that seemed to hush the large audiences.

One well-known character in the world of hair, Cassidy Blackwell commented “I am so overwhelmed at the turnout here,” Blackwell said. ”I have been to all sorts of shows around the world, and didn’t know what to expect, but this is amazing.”