Alia Freeman finally did it. She felt scared and procrastinated, yes.
But after seeing the result of her best friend's hair, Freeman took what she describes as a journey.
She "went natural."
The Savannah woman grew out her hair and traded chemical relaxers for natural products.
"I didn't know how beautiful it was to be natural," said Freeman, now a natural hair stylist.
And a lot of women still don't know, according to Freeman.
The fourth annual Savannah's Natural Hair Extravaganza will help correct the misbelief.
Actress Tanya Wright of the Netflix show "Orange Is the New Black" will help, too.
"Alia (Freeman) had just the right drive and positive spirit," said Wright, who handpicked the Savannah event to help herald the natural hair message.
The extravaganza, set for Sept. 20 at the Coastal Georgia Center, begins with a 10 a.m. expo of vendors, demonstrations and workshops. The day caps off with a 7 p.m. natural hair showcase.
Expo tickets cost $10 for students with IDS and $15 for general admission. Showcase tickets cost $25. Dual access to the expo and showcase costs $30.
Ten percent of event proceeds helps give hearing aids to people without health insurance or financial stability, according to Freeman.
Attendees may pay at the door or at www.eventbrite.com.
"I decided I was actually going to start wearing my hair the way it grew out of my head," Wright said. "And I'm so happy I did."
Wright will host a workshop about her new book "I Found God in My Hair: 98 spiritual principles I learned from ... my hair!"
She started her natural hair journey in 2010, and realized it was teaching her about life, patience, resilience and letting go.
The latter lesson came, of all things, through shedding, a former concern of Wright's "until I realized that it's just a natural part of life," she said. "Letting go is something we must do to make room for other things to take root, for other things to grow."
Wright is the highlight of the day and very encouraging, according to Freeman.
She'll help women understand many different things about their hair texture, Freeman said.
"She just gives you a whole different outlook on natural hair," she said.
"Africa in the City" is this year's extravaganza theme. "City" refers to Savannah; "Africa" refers to the strong women there.
"And when I'm thinking of strong, I'm thinking of natural hair," Freeman said.
It takes a strong woman to "go natural." Going natural also makes hair strong and healthy, according to Freeman.
"It just feels so much better," Freeman said of her now-natural hair.
But she knows women need encouragement before the transition, and that's one reason she started the show.
The number of women with natural hair is growing in Savannah, according to Freeman.
Every year, women call or message Freeman, telling her they decided to go natural because of her event.
But once they go natural, she has another message: There are more hairstyles than a ponytail.
"That's like the first thing that women do when they go natural," she said of what she also calls an afro puff. "A lot of women don't know how to care for their hair."
And in Savannah, Freeman said there aren't enough natural hair stylists to help them.
The event, however, includes both local and out-of-town natural hairstylists, and more creative styles than just a ponytail.
But Freeman's message stretches farther than updos. She wants women comfortable with themselves, inside and out.
Natural hair is part of her message: "You can embrace your own beauty."