Boutique owner Anika Hobbs, the visionary behind the Black Love Experience, speaks with the WI Bridge about her involvement in the event. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)
Boutique owner Anika Hobbs, the visionary behind the Black Love Experience, speaks with the WI Bridge about her involvement in the event. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)

Young black entrepreneurs, artists and creatives took over the best hidden secret in Southeast for a night of black excellence.

The Anacostia Arts Center transformed into the Black Love Experience on Saturday, Feb. 18 to celebrate the beauty of people in the African diaspora with workshops, live performances and a live artist talk featuring Shani Crowe.

Anika Hobbs, owner of Nubian Hueman, a boutique located inside the center, and the brains behind the event, said in its fourth year it continues to get bigger and better.

“In the beginning, four years ago, I knew that February is one of the slowest months in retail, so I thought why don’t we have something to bring people in,” Hobbs said. “I kept thinking that there are so many creatives of color in D.C. and if we all get together how exciting that would be.”

Interdisciplinary artist Shani Crowe shows off her craft braiding a model’s hair for her live artist talk at the Black Love Experience on Saturday, Feb. 18, at the Anacostia Arts Center in Southeast. (Roy Lewis/The Washington Informer)

“Each year it got bigger,” she said.

Hobbs characterizes the Black Love Experience as a conglomerate of things like live art, live music, commerce, panels and workshops that she believes is good for the local community.

“It’s exciting to see the sold-out crowd being introduced to Anacostia,” she said. “We wanted to take the blackest part of D.C. and bring folks over east of the river to see that there are really cool things happening over here.”

Hobbs invited interdisciplinary artist Shani Crowe for a live artist talk given her success and popularity, most notably for being the hands behind singer Solange Knowles’ creative braids in her recent “Saturday Night Live” performance.

“My most popular work is photographic, which depicts braids that I’ve done. I also do collages, drawings, paintings and visual work, which is what I studied in undergrad at Howard,” Crowe said.

Crowe, who started getting clients at age 12 said that even though braiding is not her full-time job, she always maintains her gift because of the connection she has made with women.

“For anybody that is an outsider and they want a peak into black hair culture, they have to understand that hair is a lot deeper than the superficial for black people,” she said. “Hair is an outward expression of who we are.”

Sarafina Wright –Washington Informer Staff Writer

Sarafina Wright is a staff writer at the Washington Informer where she covers business, community events, education, health and politics. She also serves as the editor-in-chief of the WI Bridge, the Informer’s...

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