Love black natural hair and beauty? Then you’re in for a treat, a curly treat in fact with the return of the annual Natural Hair Week, now rebranded as CurlyTreats Festival.
In a time when afro textured hair is demonised as unruly and at the same time, appropriated by white celebrities, now more than ever we need an event that will celebrate our crowning glory. Step in CurlyTreats Festival, a day of presentations, workshops, exhibitions and sisterhood, taking place on Saturday 5 August 2017 at the ILEC Conference Centre Earl’s Court, London.
We caught up with Vinna Best, founder and director of the event, to find out about her own personal natural hair journey, why she created the event and what it takes to organise such a huge occasion.
Tell us about your professional experience?
I have worked in the web development, marketing and event management areas for beauty and tech brands for the last 10 years; I love what I do.
What are your thoughts on the leaps and strides in the natural hair movement?
It’s been roughly 10 years since black women around the world began documenting their natural hair journey online but I believe we still have a long way to go in the UK.
More women returning to their natural hair means new black businesses have been able to create natural hair care products to cater for our hair needs at a time when there was a lack of products. But muti-million pound brands are also starting to create curly hair products as they witness the decline in relaxers.
Can you describe your own natural hair journey?
I first returned to natural at the age of 15 when a friend asked why I relaxed my hair. She showed me a picture in a magazine and said: “you should have your hair like that”, it was Holly Robinson Peete with natural hair. That’s when my natural hair journey began.
At 17, I permed my hair again, yo-yoing from relaxed to natural four times over the years before I went for the big chop 10 years ago. I didn’t stay natural because of the lack of products and transitioning did not work for me, coupled with a lack of knowledge from the hairdressers I visited. I’d go to the salon and sit there while they damaged my hair by blow drying on a high heat, as soon as I left the salon, my hair went from straight to puffy again!
It took me a while to love my natural hair and to learn how to care for it. At the time I went for the big chop (10 years ago) I noticed many other women also going natural and starting to blog and create YouTube videos about their experiences. It was the first time that I realised there were lots of other women and girls with the same hair issues as me.
Why did you originally start Natural Hair Week, four years ago?
It’s something I believe was missing from the UK. Natural Hair Week was created to provide a safe space for women who wanted to learn more about how to care for their hair, practical hairstyling for afro hair and to discover hair products that will help their hair to thrive.
We’ve delivered informative seminars from qualified experts, interactive debates, creative hair demos for visitors and a platform for hair and beauty brands to sell products and services whilst connecting with their target audience. So far more than 5,000 people have attended.
Why did you decide to rebrand?
CurlyTreats is continually looking for ways to enhance our visitor’s experience, to provide greater value for those who attend our event. Natural Hair Week (now CurlyTreats Festival) is a fantastic day out. This year we will be offering a natural wellness element to the event, including topics on ‘Women’s Wellness and Nutrition: How to Get Fit on a Budget’, ‘Black Girl Magic workshop: activating your inner magic’ and ‘Natural Hair Product Making for Adults’, to name a few.
You’ve got some pretty impressive sponsors coming along, how hard or easy is the process to put on such a huge event?
When I first launched the event, it was harder to get buy-in from sponsors, but I have built up relationships with people who are responsible for managing or marketing the brands. So, working together for the event is part of delivering a service to women who are looking for their natural hair, beauty and wellness need to be fulfilled.
We create a place for natural hair and beauty enthusiasts to meet their favourite international bloggers. For the very first time in the UK, popular American natural hair influencer MahoganyCurls will share her natural hair and beauty advice. MahoganyCurls captures the attention of young girls and women worldwide, with over 25 million YouTube channel views and a collective social media audience of over one million.
EmpowHER Girls Day Out is an event dedicated to inspiring young girls at the CurlyTreats Festival. This element will allow girls to express their feelings and speak their minds without judgement.
Afro Men’s Day Out is one for the men and boys. They will learn how to care for their beard and skin, and experience the most recent products and services from top brands in male grooming.
What support, if any do you get?
My friends and family are extremely supportive. I am blessed to be surrounded with amazing people, we are positive thinkers. Also, every person who attends, every brand who exhibits or sponsors, is supportive. The event is a collective effort of amazing people and brands from small to medium black-owned businesses to international brands.