Black woman creates natural hair festival to celebrate Afro styles

At age seven, Vinna had her hair relaxed – a chemical straightening process – for the first time. It was a memorable experience for all the wrong reasons.

The relaxer product was left in for too long. Her scalp became sore and scabby, clumps of hair fell out, and she says she was traumatised by the experience.

Growing up, Vinna says it was normal for women and girls in the Black community to relax their hair, it was widely viewed as a way of making Black hair ‘manageable’ and ‘less coarse’.

After finishing university, Vinna began working in corporate workplaces. She says it was only seen as ‘acceptable to have straight hair, but when she decided to return to natural Afro styles she was treated very differently.

Vinna says she experienced hair discrimination at work, hearing comments describing her natural hair ‘dirty’, ‘messy’, ‘wild’. One colleague ever said, ‘Vinna needs a comb for Christmas.’

At the time, Vinna says there was also a distinct lack of hair products for natural hair, a lack of Afro hair education and not enough spaces that empowered women and girls with Afro hair.

Vinna realised there were many women and girls like her, who no longer wanted to chemically straighten their hair, but there was a lack of support in real life. 

CURLYTREATS Festival was born out of the need to create a platform where these unheard voices and experiences could be amplified.


Vinna’s aim was to create a safe space where women and girls with Afro hair could feel safe, empowered and celebrated – something that she felt was missing from UK culture altogether.

The festival gives women access to hair education, support systems, products and services to help them with their natural hair journey, finding self-love, and improving their wellbeing.

This year, Vinna has joined forces with Wendy Cummins to bring back Black cultural events in the UK after an incredibly difficult year for the sector. 

The pair aim to ensure that their Black-owned Female-led festivals get their chance to thrive and survive in the post-pandemic world by combining their visions for a stronger future.

Wendy is the founder of Radiate Festival, which is London’s Windrush festival, a rich and vibrant cultural event by the local Black Community.

Since 2013, the two organisers have been delivering events and festivals of up to 5,000 visitors, each time celebrating Black culture. Then the pandemic hit and like many others in the event industry, to protect the future of their organisations, the two women decided to postpone their respective events until 2021.

Now, for the first time, CURLYTREATS Natural Hair Fest and Radiate Festival are uniting to bring together the power of both brands.

4,000 visitors each day are expected to attend the two-day outdoor event at London’s Crystal Palace Park. 

The joint festival will provide a unique experience with a variety of empowerment sessions, musical acts, fashion, art, food and markets.

During the pandemic, organisations such as Wendy and Vinna’s were denied Arts Council and DMCS support for the events that they had been running within their community for three and seven years respectively.

Feeling deflated and worried about the survival and legacy of their events they sat down to plan a way to make sure that in a changing landscape post-pandemic that the grassroots community events that they had spent years building would see the light of day once again.

‘We’re very excited to build on our relationship with this partnership to show what a great example of collaboration over competition looks like,’ says Vinna.

‘We carefully considered the suitability of this new location and decided that choosing an outdoor location would mean we can ensure there is enough space for all to enjoy whilst following government guidelines.’

Wendy adds: ‘We knew how vital it would be to create great social spaces for our community, to ensure inclusion post-lockdown. Being part of the survival, recovery and revival of the event industry was always a key factor in our decision making, so we never gave up hope of bringing the festival back after the lockdown easing.’

The open air festival will take place in Crystal Palace Park, London, on June 19th – 20th.

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