We caught up with Vinna Best founder of the CurlyTreats Festival, the UK’s Biggest Natural Hair Festival to Celebrate Black Culture.
Since 2013, Vinna Best has been delivering natural hair events around the UK, in major cities including London, Birmingham, Manchester, Nottingham, Leeds, and Bristol, encouraging black women and girls to be and feel empowered, unravelling the negative stereotypes that surround black women’s hair. Beyond natural hair, Vinna is an advocate for equality and economic empowerment. Her voice has not gone unnoticed, as Vinna continues to make a difference speaking at conferences, universities and radio shows such as BuzzFeedUK, The Voice Newspaper, University of West London & the BBC.
What was your starting inspiration?
So, let’s rewind to the beginning of my natural hair journey. I initially went natural when I was 15 years old and at that time I wanted to explore my natural hair, considering I didn’t even know what the texture was like, since my hair was permed my hair when I was in primary school and I didn’t like the burning sensation of the perm.
However, once I went natural I realised that there was a significant lack of product availability for natural hair, so i became frustrated and I decided to relax it in my second year of university. During the course of uni I became natural, then relaxed again – it was definitely a rollercoaster. In my early 20’s I decided to do a ‘big chop’ to start a fresh; this time around I notice the rise of afro hair blogging, particularly in the US at first then spreading into the UK. But there was still a lack of products!! But determined to stay natural I began attending different black beauty events, but even within these spaces I didn’t feel as if I was being catered too. That is when the inspiration to start my own event came, I thought to myself ‘wouldn’t it be great if I could have an event where we aren’t just trying to make a sale, but trying to educate people on their hair needs and simultaneously using this to empower them’.
That was the start of my first event called ‘Natural Hair Week’ which was a tour across the major cities in the UK i.e. London, Manchester, Birmingham, Nottingham, Leeds, and Bristol.
What has been the hardest part about starting these natural hair events?
I embrace the ideology of living each day like it is your last, my experiences in life have helped me realise the essence of urgency and not being afraid of doing what you want to do in life or limiting myself due to fear or lack of confidence. But once you realise what your purpose is you can go ahead confidently to execute it. I believe everyone is put on this earth to give, I believe this event is part of me giving back my knowledge but also orchestrating the knowledge of others to give back and learning from them along the way.
For me, the most challenging things about running a business were:
- Learning how to run a business, as cliché as that sounds, but specifically accountancy and keeping up with accounts. Sometimes putting your accounts into other people’s hands means you don’t necessarily know what money is coming in and out.
- As a small business, realising the importance of researching to understand what is available e.g free business workshops, events. business advice, tools.
What has been the most rewarding part?
Seeing the growth of the people coming to the events, the growth as people individually. I’ve seen some girls at the first events who aren’t as confident but as I’ve seen them at the second and third event you can see that they are building confidence. It’s like seeing people go from caterpillars to butterflies, I love seeing people blossom.
That’s the most rewarding part of the event, seeing people grow and do well.
What’s the future of CurlyTreats?
That’s a really good question, yesterday or the day before I was talking about how black beauty, afro hair, locs etc are things that are still seen as political due to past years of slavery and they shouldn’t be – these are features we are born with. But in reality slavery wasn’t that long ago and we are still building from that. The people that I work with have a core vision of empowerment not just in our events but in everyday life. So we want to get to a place when black beauty is seen as the norm. We can’t beg people to see us as the norm, we have to look at ourselves and say what can we do (individually and collectively) to reach this goal.
So, that is what we are aiming to do. We right now are having to unlearn some stereotypes about our black beauty in order for the next generation not to have to unlearn, but to know how beautiful they are from their hair to their skin. So that when they receive negative comments they can combat it with truth that has already been instilled in them.
Creating a sense of black pride.
What can we expect from CurlyTreats Festival?
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.