It’s a sad story that many of us have heard before but apparently not much has changed. The Florida Courier recently ran an article featuring the owners of black-owned beauty supply stores who talk about the discrimination they face in their attempts to break into the lucrative wig and weave industry.
Bernard White, owner of Nebby Beauty Supply in Oakland, said, “Most products are able to be ordered easily, but there is not a large profit margin to be made. Hair is where the margin is. You can make $3,000-$5,000 a day on hair sales alone.”
He added, “It is not really a hard industry to get into, it is getting hair that is the problem. It is a cold business in terms of the hair game. The Koreans have this industry on lock.”
Both Johnson and White agreed that getting hair is a huge hurdle, because the distributors are Korean and most times they will only sell to other Koreans.
White said, “I have to buy hair through exchange. It is rough, but if I don’t increase my hair game, I won’t be in business next year…”
Johnson said that some Korean distributors say they will not sell to stores within so many miles from their other clients, but when she tried to have hair sent to her Aliquippa location, which has no other beauty supply stores, they still would not let her purchase it.
She said one distributor also told her the hair she wanted was no longer being sold, but when she went to a local Korean beauty supply store, that same hair was there. When she inquired about it she was told that a local store had told the distributor that if he sold to her, he would no longer buy from him.
Apparently even workshops that teach business owners how to sell new wig/weave products to black women are held in Korean:
Johnson said she has attended several national conferences in regards to the Black hair industry and Koreans run a majority of them and the workshops are conducted in the Korean language, even the ones on how to sell to the Black consumer.
Apparently in the midst of all this the Black Owned Beauty Supply Association is basically asleep at the wheel:
The Black Owned Beauty Supply Association, which is supposed to be one of the resources for Black owned beauty suppliers, advertises that it’s a premier national organization that provides African-Americans the platform to demonstrate competitive leadership in the $9 billion Black hair care and cosmetic industry nationwide and nationally.
However when trying to contact them to find out what help they give suppliers, the website advertised a number that was disconnected and never returned emails.
When asked about the association, White said, “It is a joke.” Johnson said she has never contacted them but heard it is not a reliable resource.
And even some natural hair companies are unwilling to have their products sold in traditional beauty supply stores.
Johnson said that not only is hair hard to get but so are certain hair product lines that cater to women with natural hair or chemically treated hair. She said she has been trying to get a certain brand in her store for years, but the company refuses to let her carry it.
White said the same thing. He has tried to get certain popular Black hair care lines but the company will not let him carry it either because he is too close to one of their major distributors or he has to buy thousands of dollars in product, which is unrealistic for his store’s size.
The full article is pretty interesting (click here to read it). And the plight of these black beauty supply owners is unique. They are squeezed out of the wig/weave industry on one side, and out of the natural hair industry on the other. I’m not sure if it’s because natural hair brands don’t want their products associated with the traditional beauty supply store or what.
Ladies, what are your thoughts on all this?