The International Bronner Brothers Beauty Show is the place to be and be seen for beauticians and celebrities alike.
"Just like Fashion Week in New York, Bronner Brothers is where hair and beauty trends are set."
The Bronner Brothers enterprise was founded in 1947 by brothers Arthur Bronner and Dr. Nathaniel Bronner. CBS46 reporter Ashley Thompson sat down with James Bronner, Tradeshow Director and Dr. Nathaniel Bronner's son.
"I don't know if he had the vision that we would have 35 thousand people today and people from over 20 nations but he indeed had the passion and the heart for beauticians."
So much passion and heart that Dr. Nathaniel Bronner went to beauty school during a time when, for a man, that was almost unheard of.
"He actually went to Apex Beauty School and he was the only male in his class in 1939," James said.
The first Bronner Brothers Beauty Show was eight years later at the Butler Street YMCA. About 300 beauticians showed up. From there, the show only grew, moving from the YMCA to nightclubs, then hotels, then to the Atlanta Apparel Mart, to where it is today at the Georgia World Congress Center.
But it wasn't always smooth sailing for the brothers who launched a company before the civil rights movement.
"It was hard to get money at that time from the banks," James Bronner said. "You had to deal with segregation issues so he had to put up the house mortgage to finance things."
And at a time when there were little to no products on the market for black hair, they began producing a line of their own, which can now be found in major retailers nationwide.
While growing the business, the Bronner brothers rubbed elbows with celebrities, politicians and civil rights leaders, often inviting them to the show.
"He wanted to inspire the community with people they would only see on the movie screens or the tv screens and allow them to see them face-to-face and to meet them."
Today, the second generation of Bronners run the company. The empire now includes more than just hair products. It has skin care, health care products, a magazine and even two churches. But the hair show remains a priority.
"We have roughly between 30 and 40 thousand attendees per show," said show manager Erika Respress. "we do about 60 million dollars a year to the city of Atlanta's small businesses."
Respress has been the show manager for 29 years. The show is famous for its fantasy competition, which features over-the-top hairstyles, but you'll also find cosmetology courses, free concerts and even a job fair.
"Bronner brothers has been around for 71 years so if you're a hairstylist, a barber, an estitician, a makeup artist, a nail tech, you know everything starts at Bronner," Respress said.
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