Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show returns to Atlanta after four years

Signature Black hair and beauty event celebrates 77 years in Atlanta
Barber competitions are among the most popular draws of the annual Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show, which made its return to the Georgia World Congress Center in February following a four-year lapse due to the coronavirus pandemic. AJC file photo by Jonathan Phillips/Special

Barber competitions are among the most popular draws of the annual Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show, which made its return to the Georgia World Congress Center in February following a four-year lapse due to the coronavirus pandemic. AJC file photo by Jonathan Phillips/Special

The Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show, an annual event that supports Black hair and beauty professionals, returned February 24 through 26 to celebrate its 77th year at Georgia World Congress Center after a four-year hiatus.

As it has in previous years, the privately owned haircare company’s tradeshow featured vendors showcasing hair products, professional equipment and apparel, plus live demonstrations from beauty service providers, including barbers, cosmetologists, wigmakers and nail technicians.

A hair model shows off her queenly coiffure during a competition at the Spring 2018 Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show at the Georgia World Congress Center.  File photo by Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com

icon to expand image

Guests also attended various gatherings, including town hall meetings, meet-and-greets, classes themed around issues affecting the hair and beauty industries, and more.

Glynn Jackson has produced the hair show’s signature night event since 1998 that recognizes the unsung heroes that are often behind the scenes in hair and beauty. Themed this year as “One Enchanted Evening: The Untold Story,” the program also featuring musical performances and a runway fashion show was the first event Jackson executed for Bronner Bros. since the COVID-19 pandemic paused the show for four years.

Atlanta rapper and activist Killer Mike accepts a Lifetime Achievement Award from curator Glynn Jackson at the 2024 Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show in February. Photo provided by Flip Sterling

Credit: The Glen Agency

icon to expand image

Credit: The Glen Agency

At the event, Jackson presented recent Grammy winner Killer Mike with a Lifetime Achievement Award for The SWAG Shop, his barbershop chain located on Edgewood Avenue and in State Farm Arena.

Singer Bobby V also received Lifetime Achievement honors for his duet, “Pimpin’ All Over the World,” with Ludacris that mentions Bronner Bros in one of the rap verses.

Atlanta R&B singer Bobby V accepts a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2024 Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show. AJC file photo

Credit: The Glen Agency

icon to expand image

Credit: The Glen Agency

At the beauty brunch event, former Destiny’s Child member LaTavia Roberson made a guest appearance to unveil details about her makeup line, The Queens Kollection, in partnership with Bouji Lip Cosmetics. The products are available to order on the Bouji Lip Cosmetics’ website.

“Our collection is about women being beautiful,” said Roberson, who’s now based in Atlanta. “It’s great to be in a room full of excellence and so many entrepreneurs that are doing the doggone thing.”

Stephan “Step the Barber” Swearingen, the owner of Plush Midtown Barber and Beauty Salon, performed a haircut tutorial at the Cocco Hair Pro station. The developer of his own natural hair products line, Kinks and Coils, Swearingen took questions from the audience as he explained his technique.

“There are so many small, Black-owned businesses who are able to get major attention and their products in the hands of people that want to support,” Swearingen said. “The people standing around will be able to take what they saw back to their salons and produce even better or more efficient styles to get the look they want in less time.”

A model receives a stylish haircut during the Andis Total Look barbering competition at the 2018 Bronner Bros. show.  File photo by Alyssa Pointer/alyssa.pointer@ajc.com

icon to expand image

Sherita Cherry, founder of the Sherita Cherry Institute in Jonesboro, agreed with Swearingen about the quality of information shared during each session. “The education here is overwhelming because there are classes on everything,” she said.

The three-day event is one of few platforms exclusively showcasing Black talent in hair and beauty anywhere in the world. And it began with one man’s ability to spot – and provide –opportunity.

Bronner Bros. was founded in 1947 by Dr. Nathaniel H. Bronner Sr. and his brother Arthur E. Bronner. In the 77 years since, the Bronner Bros. name has become synonymous with cutting-edge hairstyles and conventions that draw thousands of visitors to Atlanta.

Credit: Bronner Bros.

icon to expand image

Credit: Bronner Bros.

In 1940, while working a newspaper delivery route, Nathaniel Bronner Sr. realized he was selling more products from his sister’s beauty salon than printed copies of the Atlanta Daily World he distributed.

He kept hearing owners and staff express concerns about product availability, and how racism kept limiting their access, while traveling across Atlanta to various salons. Seven years later, he and his sister gathered 300 people at the Butler Street YMCA for a hairstyling class with product demonstrations.

Bronner Bros. founder Nathaniel Bronner Sr., standing left of the sign bearing his name, poses for a photo with members of his staff and their families in the mid-1970s. File photo courtesy of the Bronner family

Credit: Courtesy of the Bronner family

icon to expand image

Credit: Courtesy of the Bronner family

The attendees kept asking the Morehouse College alumnus to do the class over, so he turned that demand into the Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show.

“My father wasn’t interested in doing hair, but he was interested in getting to know his customers and understanding their needs, challenges, and their knowledge,” said James Bronner, who became president of Bronner Bros. in November 2023.

“He would talk with different people. They didn’t know they had similar issues, so he wanted to get them together to show them that they share experiences.”

The show was so successful in achieving this goal that it drew others from outside the beauty industry who were aware of the gathering’s power. Past hair shows have featured appearances from such luminaries as Muhammad Ali, Dick Gregory and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

Nathaniel Bronner Sr., a respected American businessman, often met with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. to discuss economic strategies in Atlanta's Black community. File photo courtesy of Bronner Bros.

Credit: Courtesy of Bronner Bros.

icon to expand image

Credit: Courtesy of Bronner Bros.

Third-generation entrepreneur Autumn Yarbrough made her Bronner debut this year with her hair wellness startup, Nu Beauty Standard.

The granddaughter of Pro Line Corporation founder Comer Cottrell, Jr. and daughter of kids natural haircare line Just for Me creators Eric and Renee Brown, Yarbrough heard countless stories throughout the event about her family’s commitment to legacy by uplifting the Black community through service, and actively funding historically Black colleges and universities.

“It’s a dream come true and an honor to be here to celebrate my family,” Yarbrough said. “We’re a legacy restart, and it’s exciting to continue that tradition. I have unfinished business, and I can’t wait to do this again and continue that trail they’ve blazed and carry on to the next generation.”

Company president James Bronner stands near signage at the 2020 Bronner Bros. International Hair Show. Photo courtesy of Bronner Bros. Inc.

icon to expand image

The core values started by Nathaniel Bronner, who died in 1993, are leading Bronner Bros. into the future. As president, James Bronner has been instrumental in modernizing the show with technology and IT services. Having attended Georgia Tech, James was able to recognize the need to make the improvements after working in various departments and shadowing his siblings over the years.

James son, John Bronner, is coming onboard in August to assist with the show in New Orleans. The 24-year-old’s inclusion brings a third generation of Bronner family members into the business.

Bronner Bros. President James Bronner (2nd from right) and his son, John Bronner (center), chat with vendors at the 77th annual Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show at Georgia World Congress Center. Photo provided by Jerome Dorn/In Da House Media

Credit: Jerome Dorn/In Da House Media

icon to expand image

Credit: Jerome Dorn/In Da House Media

“We’ve been in this all of our lives, so it doesn’t hit us until we get the testimonials of other people,” James Bronner said. “We feel the impact, the weight of the legacy, and what it really means to society.

Yisrael Wright, co-founder of Beard Goalz, an all-organic product line, shared that the show’s growth and continuation, added to its ability to change the lives and careers of attendees, motivate him to attend.

“It’s motivating just to see the hair show survive the test of time and change so many people’s lives and careers,” he said.

“It’s great being around like-minded individuals, shape shifters and innovators who are trying to move the industry forward.”