When I say I lived my best life at Essence Fest this year, it really isn’t an exaggeration. You will agree — from the pictures alone — that on the trip beautifully hosted by ELOQUII, my Essence Fest experience was VIP-certified. Thanks to some celebrity friends, I was able to rub elbows with many of the world’s most iconic entertainers. And I was stylishly dressed each night from head to toe in ELOQUII. I was an #XOQutie all weekend long, as I mixed and mingled backstage.
Let’s jump right in …
So, when ELOQUII invited me to attend Essence Fest with them, I was super excited for several reasons. I was honored that the team thought I would be a great representative for the brand at the largest event celebrating African-American culture and music in the United States, first and foremost. And besides being just an amazing brand, the ELOQUII team is equally amazing and such a pleasure to work with. It was also a great opportunity to spend time with fellow influencers — Essie Golden, Thamar Guerrier and Alex LaRosa — who I also admire. The perfect #CurvyGirlsTrip was in the making!
Essence Fest #XOQ HQ
Our accommodations were simply perfect. I dubbed it the Essence Fest XOQ HQ. It was a stylish two-story, 4 bedroom home with plenty of space … and a hot tub! It was pretty close to the French Quarter, maybe a 10 minute Uber ride. The home was located in the heart of downtown New Orleans, just steps away from the Canal St. streetcar line. When Alex and I arrived, Kourtney from ELOQUII was there to greet us. She had lots of snacks and chilled bubbly for us to enjoy. That was such a nice personal touch!
Essie and Thamarr arrived shortly thereafter and we met the rest of the ELOQUII team at Antoine’s in the French Quarter for dinner. It’s the oldest french-creole fine dining restaurant in New Orleans. Quite an interesting and eclectic place , we got a tour of the 175 year old establishment that is filled with NOLA history and memorabilia. It’s definitely a place to check out on your next trip to the Crescent City.
Bloggers Brunching On Bourbon Street
We kicked off Friday with a lovely influencer brunch at the Royal Sonesta Hotel. ELOQUII gifted all influencers in attendance with personalized hand painted organizers that are super adorable. The buffet-style brunch featured some Nawlins staples like shrimp and grits, and of course, beignets. It was a great meet-up opportunity and a great way to welcome us all to the city. Following brunch was a fun photoshoot with all attendees out on the veranda of the hotel. At 1 pm, ELOQUII’s Essence Fest showroom opened and we got the opportunity to see and feel some new items from the brand.
The showroom had a wraparound balcony that overlooked Bourbon Street. It was perfect for the guests who mingled about, trying on clothes while enjoying an assortment of snacks and libations. The showroom was open Friday and Saturday, and saw a lot of ELOQUII fans. I was impressed with the number of people who visited considering the location wasn’t near or inside the convention center.
Living My Best Life At Essence Fest
One of the many highlights of the Essence Fest is the concerts. During the day, the convention center is the place to be. There are several hundred vendors, large and small, selling all kinds of fashion and beauty products, and just about everything else. There is so much going on inside the convention centre that it can be overwhelming for some. I love it all, however.
At night, the concerts kick into full gear, and everybody hits the Superdome to enjoy the fantastic entertainment and fellowshipping. On Friday night, thanks to my husband’s business relationship with actress Kim Fields and her husband Chris, we experienced Essence on a whole other level.
Full backstage access. Let me repeat that: FULL BACKSTAGE ACCESS. And I met some of my all-time favorite celebrities. The highlights, of course, were being in Erykah Badu’s dressing room after her performance with Jill Scott, The Roots, Anthony Hamilton and Kirk Franklin. I was thinking to myself, “How is this my life right now?” After exchanging pleasantries with the ladies, I was lucky enough to be in what will become a cherished photo for the rest of life. ULTIMATE SQUAD GOALS, right?
Crushing On Idris Elba
As if meeting the QUEENS of Neo-Soul wasn’t enough, on Saturday night, I was chatting it UP with my future ex-husband. Idris Elba is so damn sexy and I pretty much fainted when I walked into his dressing room. We had watched his DJ performance from backstage so once he was done, we were right there to greet him. So was Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms. LOL! Idris gets all the ladies! We also spent time chatting it up with Jussie Smollett, his Mom and siblings. I really want Jussie to be my BFF. Dude is just a whole lot of fun … and so doggone cute.
After leaving Idris, we linked up with Queen Latifah. QUEEN LATIFAH Y’ALL! And while I was excited to meet her, it was Sam Fine that made me fan completely out. Sam Fine literally wrote the book on makeup and beauty techniques for African-American women. The iconic Fine Beauty: Beauty Basics and Beyond for African-American Women, released in 1998, was the very first makeup book I ever bought because it was the first that spoke directly to me.
Fine Beauty is the Makeup Bible for black women. I think he noticed how enamored I was with him because he walked over and introduced himself. I said “I know who you are and I am honored to meet you. What a surprise for me. I have Fine Beauty and I still refer to it often.” He patted his heart, gave me a hugh and said, “Thank you sister. Thank you.” He also said I did a good job on my own makeup. WHHHAAAATTTT!!!?!!
Also in Latifah’s room? Her stylist Timothy Snell. I let him know I was a plus blogger and after we chatted a bit more, he says he follows me on Instagram and likes my style! Listen, I was winning all night long.
That night we also met Gabrielle Union (she would make a great BFF), Monie Love, Eric Michael Dyson, and so many more. See the slide show for some more behind the scenes photos including my husband with Nicole Murphy. Yes, he died, went to Heaven to personally thank Jesus and returned to never forget the experience.
Shop My Essence Fest #XOQs
All weekend long, I wore great looks from ELOQUII. My favorite, by far, was the lace romper. It was pure perfection and served up lots of sass and style. I paired it with a black w/ gold chain link Gucci purse, a pearl Gucci logo belt, and pearl sandals from INC International Concepts.
Shop My Essence Fest Looks
Essence Festival: Behind The Velvet Rope
Check out some more behind the scenes snapshots below!