Show Director James Bronner talks about this weekend’s Bronner Brothers Midwinter hair show
At the Bronner Brothers factory and warehouse in Southwest Atlanta, there’s a lot of excitement in the air. It’s only a few days before the company’s 71st annual Midwinter International Beauty Show, and there’s still much to be done. In one office, there are roughly 50,000 convention bags to be stuffed. In another, members of the show’s management team are going over final logistics with a fine-toothed comb.
In his office, dressed in a sharp navy suit and lightly graying hair, show director and second-generation Bronner Brothers owner James Bronner wears the Zen calmness of a monk. Though it seems like chaos is all around him, his excitement and calm were both shocking and alluring at the same time.
“I was brought in as show director about three years ago,” he revealed. “But I’ve been around the family business all my life. I feel like I was born involved in the family business.”
From sweeping floors to placing the signature “BB” labels on products, Bronner has worked in nearly all aspects of the business. One summer, he even worked in the lab where products are made.
“It was so that one day when we got into leadership, we would understand all of the different areas of the company,” he explained.
Bronner is the youngest of his brothers, who all still work in some capacity in the company. His oldest brother, Bernard, has served as the company’s CEO since taking over in 1993.
The Bronner Bros. Enterprise consists of Bronner Bros. beauty products BB, African Royale, 4Naturals, Tropical Roots and NuExpressions product lines, UPSCALE Magazine, Word of Faith Family Worship Cathedral, The Ark of Salvation, and the Bronner Bros. International Beauty Shows.
The company employs over 300 full-time and part-time staff members, operates two manufacturing and shipping facilities in Georgia, and sells product all over the world. The corporate headquarters is located in Marietta, just outside of Atlanta.
Today, the Bronner Bros. International Beauty Show is the largest of its kind in the world. It is known for its workshops, high-intensity competitions and featured experts, including stylists for Michelle Obama and Beyoncé.
Hosted at the Georgia World Congress Center, more than 40,000 hairstylists, barbers, make-up artists, nail technicians and fans attend the show twice a year. This weekend’s three-day show will be no different.
“As the multicultural beauty market continues to drive innovation and global trends, Bronner is committed to remaining at the forefront of what’s new, next and now,” Bronner explained. “We’re excited to celebrate our 71st year and welcome everyone to the most exciting Bronner Bros. Beauty Show ever!”
During the three-day conference, licensed stylists, barbers and students can sharpen their craft at more than 100 classes, earn multi-state CEU credits, and stay current on industry trends.
Deals on thousands of products and services will also be available from more than 300 companies including Andis, Babyliss, Chi Deep Brilliance, Dudley’s, GiGi Wax, Nairobi Professional, and Wahl, among others.
Janelle Stephens, owner of Camille Rose Naturals, will host a discussion about one of the most popular multicultural beauty trends today – natural hair. Panelists include Kim Etheridge, owner of Mixed Chicks, and Bronner Bros.’ own Emma Okyere.
Saturday night includes a comedy show featuring Steve Brown (host), Rodney Perry, Mark Gregory and Sean Larkins.
In anticipation of Valentine’s Day, guests can celebrate early with Waka Flocka and his wife, Tammy Rivera, as they perform together for the first time.
On Sunday evening, some of the nation’s most talented students will compete for cash and prizes in the “Battle of the Schools.”
Participating schools include Empire, Savannah Technical and Universal College of Beauty.
Immediately following the competition, “Real Housewives of Atlanta” cast member, Cynthia Bailey, will host a fashion show featuring couture designs.
In the 1930s, Bronner’s father—Dr. Nathaniel H. Bronner Sr.—lived in Atlanta and studied business at Morehouse College, while also spending a lot of time at his sister’s salon.
He had a paper route and would often take his sister’s products along with him. To his surprise, the hair and beauty products outsold the papers, and Bronner decided the beauty industry was where he wanted to make his mark.
In 1939, Bronner graduated from Atlanta’s Apex Beauty College—the only man in his class—and began working in the area.
In 1947, he and his brother Arthur E. Bronner, along with sister Emma, started Bronner Bros. as a way to teach cosmetologists at the YMCA in Atlanta. Shortly thereafter, the first Bronner Bros. Hair Show was established with 300 in attendance.
The business began to grow, as did the hair show year after year. In the decades that followed, the show attracted many well-renowned experts and speakers of the time including, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., Jackie Robinson, and Dr. Benjamin Mays.
Now in its 71st year, the biannual international hair show stands as a testament to Bronner’s commitment to providing the premier platform for multicultural salon and barber professionals, which according to Mintel research, is now valued at an estimated $500 billion.
“Even though the show has changed throughout the 71 years, the heart of the show has remained the same,” Bronner explained. “That is to bring together this event that will benefit and uplift, educate and inspire stylists, barbers and beauty students all over the world.