Growing up, Flores was a vibrant and passionate teen who loved to try different hairstyles, so much so that she was known for doing the ‘dos of her friends and ultimately became a respected hairstylist. Hair was a huge part of her life.
So one can imagine Flores’s shock and sadness when, following the birth of her daughter in the early aughts, her own hair had been compromised. She first noticed small patches on her head before being diagnosed in 2006 with alopecia and experiencing severe hair loss. Understandably, finding out about this condition was a hard pill to swallow. Over time, Flores did not tell people about what she was dealing with, concealing her alopecia by wearing wigs. It wasn’t until the year 2015 that she decided she’d had enough and stopped wearing them.
“Although I have alopecia and I am bald, I am Felicia first. I am my own person first,” Flores says. “I think that we get so wrapped up in whatever condition we may have, that we lose sight of who we are in the process. I have always been fashion forward, a traveler, and a lover of life. I was that person before I had the bald patches and I am going to continue to be her today. That has kept me grounded and not sinking into a deep depression. We have to remind ourselves who we are because we sometimes redefine ourselves because of our condition, which is totally understandable. But if you allow your passions to lead in being your authentic self, that will exude your beauty.”
After joining a women’s group called The Baldie Movement, Flores was able to meet other women who knew what it was like to try to reclaim their beauty after hair loss. While Flores was grateful to have met a tribe she could relate to, the entrepreneur still felt there was a lack of resources and representation for women like her.
By definition, alopecia is an autoimmune disease that causes partial or complete absence of hair from areas of the body where it normally grows. According to the National Alopecia Areata Foundation, nearly 6.7 million people in the U.S. and 160 million worldwide have the condition. Research suggests that the odds of developing alopecia areata are higher for Black women compared to our white counterparts. Over the last few years, we have heard testimonies from women such as Jada Pinkett-Smith, Viola Davis and Tyra Banks about their experiences with alopecia. So while more women are opening up about this, it is important to continue the conversation around hair loss, become more educated on how it can affect someone mentally and physically, and offer opportunities for upliftment. That is where Flores is stepping in.
To bring awareness to alopecia during Alopecia Areata Awareness Month, Flores created a space that could help her and other women feel more empowered and celebrated: BaldieCon. It is a conference to celebrate strength, self-acceptance, and community for bald women all over. As the BaldieCon founder, Flores wants to help build a movement to redefine beauty standards, inspire courage, and amplify the voices of women like her. Whether a woman has alopecia, lupus, is going through cancer treatments, or is bald by choice, this event is curated just for them. BaldieCon will be held in Atlanta on September 29 and 30. During this conference, attendees will not only be able to come together and connect, but there will also be a lot of resources, activations, and musical performances as well.
“We will have a licensed therapist, Nichole B. Jackson, who will be talking about the mental health aspects and how to live a fulfilling life while coping with your condition. She will be helping people accept themselves,” she says. “We will have Nina Ross who is a functional medicine certified trichologist and hair loss specialist who will be able to give a holistic point of view on alternative treatments. I used to get injections and it can be a lot and expensive. I was tired of being poked and prodded. So there are other ways that people can learn about and know they have options. We will also have Kim Roxie, the founder of Lamik Beauty, be our beauty sponsor and transform our ladies by giving them the full brow experience. The ladies will be surrounded by true inspirational women who have walked the walk and are successful.”
BaldieCon’s future will be more than just a conference. Flores says BaldieCon is also a nonprofit that is dedicated to providing workshops for children and mentorship around understanding hair loss and how to be an advocate for a parent, relative, or friend. Nevertheless, her excitement for the event is evident as she explains what’s to come.
“To top it all off, we are going to have a Baldie Ball. It will be a black tie affair where the ladies can dress up for a nice evening out and they can feel good about themselves,” Flores shares. “We have been beat down by society, telling us what is feminine and what isn’t or what is beautiful and what isn’t. When you come to BaldieCon, you are in a safe and relaxed space.”
If you are interested in learning more about BaldieCon, visit www.BaldieCon.com.