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Black Women are Regaining Market Share in the Beauty Supply Industry

Avatar • Sep 11, 2014

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Source: New York Times

One of the major ironies of the multi-billion dollar global beauty industry is that sometimes top consumers of certain products are not the producers. Case in point: black hair care. According to the market research firm Mintel, black women spend approximately $500 billion on hair care. To put that figure into perspective, that’s about 35 times larger than the gross domestic product of my birthplace, Jamaica. Black women spend more money on hair care than any other group, yet very few hair care companies and beauty supply stores are owned by individuals of African descent. It is for this reason that a recent article in The New York Times struck a hopeful chord. The disproportionate levels of ownership of companies marketing black hair care by non-blacks remains and realistically, may persist for some time. However, there are signs the market is shifting as black women develop greater inroads into the massive hair care market.

It’s Who You Know

According to Lori Thorps, a professor of journalism at Temple University, during the 1950s and 1960s, women typically bought their hair care products from door-to-door saleswomen or white-owned hair stores. When black homeowners began integrating  predominantly white neighborhoods, white families fled in mass, which scientists call “white flight.” The abandoned shops left space for immigrant entrepreneurs, such as Koreans, to start businesses like beauty supply stores that catered the black population. Because of the cultural and language connections Korean and often Chinese business owners, have with suppliers of hair care goods, it has been challenging for black owners to gain a foothold in the hair care market.

A Natural Fit

During the early and mid 2000s, women of African descent began to seek hair products to help care for natural hair in unprecedented levels and it was obvious that beauty supply stores simply lacked the products they needed. In response, black women shared hair recipes online, created their own products, reviewed them and promoted them on hair forums, blogs and YouTube channels.  Over the last decade, some product lines have made their way into major retailers. The success of such products rests on the perception by consumers that the creators of products are also users of those products.  One business owner featured in the article explains why trust and reputation is so important.  Rochelle Graham-Campbell, owner of the product line Alikay Naturals, states “They [consumers] want to know, who’s the face behind the brand? Are you able to relate to my hair? Are you able to relate to my struggles and to my journey of being natural?” Ms. Graham–Campbell, who is known to many by her YouTube moniker, BlackOnyx77, will soon be selling her products in Target stores.

As black women extend the success of product creation to opening their own brick and mortar beauty supply stores, they find that challenges can be overcome by their ability to connect with the consumer. Indeed, I believe that one of the key strengths black women entrepreneurs have in successfully competing with other beauty store owners is that they are able to speak directly, and often personally, about the effectiveness of the products they sell. The road to successful entrepreneurship isn’t easy and will certainly require ingenuity but is possible. Currently, many black owners lack social networks with suppliers, many of whom are located in Asia. As a result, they may have to charge higher prices for products to compensate for higher overhead. Still, business owners have an edge, they say, because consumers may have a vested interest in supporting owners who can relate to their beauty needs and who want to support their business ambitions. Supporting black owners of beauty supply stores isn’t just about shopping at the store with the largest inventory, but also about supporting the economic empowerment of other black women.

 

What do you think are the major hurdles to wide-spread black ownership of beauty supply stores?

Given the challenges some of the women in the article cited regarding suppliers and costs, would you be willing to support beauty supply stores owned by black women even if it meant paying up to a dollar more for hair products? Why or why not?

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Knotty Natural
6 years ago

Given the challenges some of the women in the article cited regarding suppliers and costs, would you be willing to support beauty supply stores owned by black women even if it meant paying up to a dollar more for hair products? Why or why not?”
–Although I don’t really purchase many commercial products, I say, emphatically, YES!

octavia
octavia
6 years ago
Reply to  Knotty Natural

Absolutely! I am so here for black women not only getting a foot hold into the black hair care industry, but ultimately being the top distributors /suppliers. We have made too many other ethnic communities rich at the expense of our own.

Knotty Natural
6 years ago
Reply to  octavia

We have to support one another, yes!!!

And to add to your comment about making “too many other ethnic communities rich at the expense of our own”, we make them rich and most times they look at us with disdain!

Edens Sahara
Edens Sahara
6 years ago
Reply to  Knotty Natural

Yes indeed. We must support black businesses. The same problem with foreigners controlling the black hair market, exists in the UK. Indians own the black hair shops and they openly show their contempt for us by standing on stools to see whether we are going to steal. This is how they treat their only customers and they do so because they can. We are not competing with them to provide for our own people. Dare you talk about just helping black people and you are deemed a racist.

mlank64
mlank64
6 years ago
Reply to  octavia

Yes Octavia, I totally agree. There is a thread I see here in terms of blacks in general abducating their roles as leaders to other ethnicities in regards to hair, their community, and economic freedom. Fergerson is a perfect example.…67% African American, all the political leaders and police force are 100% white. Black people need to get involved and vote and put their money into things that will benefit their own!

Tristan
Tristan
6 years ago
Reply to  Knotty Natural

Yes! Because if these women work and most importantly LIVE in the same neighborhoods we benefit from the tax dollars and revenue which will help improve areas. Noting that most if not all of the korean/Chinese owners accept our money and then go home to predominantly white communities and send their children to predominantly white schools

Darlyn
Darlyn
6 years ago
Reply to  Knotty Natural

I agree also!

Sarita
Sarita
6 years ago

Wonderful articles, yours and the one in the NY Times. I would definitely support Black-owned shops for the simple fact that I believe they would be far more knowledgeable about the products and how they affect our hair. Side note: Sometimes we talk about slave mentality re the actions of our own. But I think there is also a slave-owner mentality. Or maybe it’s just the idea that other nationalities feel superior to those of African descent. We live as third-class citizens in the land of a major world power that tells others it’s okay to mistreat us. How so? Look… Read more »

Knotty Natural
6 years ago
Reply to  Sarita

I wish I could thumb this comment up a thousand times! People underestimate the power of economic independence in some way shape or form. Black buying power is at what, 1 billion or trillion now? Black folks need to get in on that!

lala
lala
6 years ago
Reply to  Knotty Natural

Yes!!! Whats up whit the thumbs up option?

anastasia
anastasia
6 years ago
Reply to  Sarita

Ms. Sarita—I welcome and applaud what you label as a “rant” =) Yes, a million times to your comment. Thumbs up!

As for buying black owned-HE!! YES! It’s worth it for all the reasons Ms.Sarita, Ms. Knotty Natural, and others have or will mention. Not a darn thing wrong with being a conscientious and conscious consumer.

mlank64
mlank64
6 years ago
Reply to  Sarita

Standing ovation!!!

DeeDee
DeeDee
6 years ago
Reply to  Sarita

I would encourage you all to read Deuteronomy 28. Read the whole passage. Then check out Isaiah 3 going into 4:1. If you think about what the text is saying and who the text is about, you will be one step to finding out who many of us really are and why things are they way they are for us. Not everyone with dark skin are having a hard time. I’m not trying to be religious, lots of us read the Bible so if you are interested just check it out. You may be surprised what you find out.

Stace
Stace
6 years ago

Can someone provide a list of black owned/produced hair care products. This is very good. I’m glad to see a shifting tide.

Thick Nigerian Hair
Thick Nigerian Hair
6 years ago
Reply to  Stace

BGLH has published 3 articles listing them. I forgot the names of them but I think Christina Patrice published them. You can just search the site though.

Thick Nigerian Hair
Thick Nigerian Hair
6 years ago
Reply to  Stace

8 Incredible Black-Owned Natural Hair Businesses to Support”
http://bglh-marketplace.com/2013/08/8‑incredible-black-owned-natural-hair-businesses-to-support/

9 More Incredible Black-Owned Natural Hair Businesses to Support”
http://bglh-marketplace.com/2013/09/9‑more-incredible-black-owned-natural-hair-businesses-to-support/

10 More Incredible Black-Owned Natural Hair Businesses to Support”
http://bglh-marketplace.com/2013/10/10-more-incredible-black-owned-natural-hair-businesses-to-support/

Gen
Gen
6 years ago

thanks for listing those resources!

cheryl
6 years ago

Honestly, I cringe every single time I have to go into the Asian owned hair care stores. I don’t mean to sound racist. I’m not. I just completely do not like the way we are treated when we are in their establishments (although the token sista sales girls work hard to keep us comfortable). With that said: YES YES YES I am looking forward to seeing more black owned retail hair care stores and also more black owned manufacturers of hair care products. We could become super power houses in hair care market. Please please lets push for this!

merry
merry
6 years ago
Reply to  cheryl

uh, you don’t HAVE to go to any business and give them your money. it’s always a choice. i wish people would get this in their heads. you choose how your dollars are spent.

and please don’t tell me anything about convenience. the montgomery bus boycott was a great inconvenience to all who participated, yet they managed to do it anyway. how? by working together and relying on other black people to make things happen.

flouncingtart
flouncingtart
6 years ago
Reply to  cheryl

I understand what you mean. There’s a lot of anti-blackness in Asian communities, so many Asian people believe stereotypes about black people, even when we’re the ones who are buying from their businesses and are regular customers at that. It’s an awful position to be placed in.

flouncingtart
flouncingtart
6 years ago
Reply to  flouncingtart

Forgot to add that, we’re racially profiled in these same stores that we regularly spend money in due to these pervasive anti-black stereotypes.

naturally Tee
naturally Tee
6 years ago
Reply to  flouncingtart

They will take our money but they really don’t seem to like or trust us I really wish there were more black beauty supply stores and nail salons in Atlanta(where I live) there are a lot of black business owners but nobody owns these types of businesses

cheryl
6 years ago

BTW, please provide a list of black owned hair care retailers across the country. If you don’t have that yet, perhaps you could start such a list (black pages of sorts). Perhaps at least start with the name and city of the retailer pictured in this article. Thank you.

Tristan
Tristan
6 years ago
Reply to  cheryl

Good Ideach cheryl! I’d like to know as well. Even if it means shopping online.

Blair
Blair
6 years ago
Reply to  cheryl

I know this is a little late but here is a website that list all the Black Hair salons in the country:

Natural Hair Care Directory: http://thenaturalhaircaredirectory.com/

And If you are interested in a comprehensive list of online Natural Hair businesses you can email me, acadet06@gmail.com.

nollyA
nollyA
6 years ago

AMEN AMEN AND AMEN!!!!!! YESSSSS this article has made my day!!!!!!!

lindsay
lindsay
6 years ago

But what do you say about black owned companies that provide the same products to asian and black beauty supply stores — but the asian store sells the product at, sometimes, half the cost.

Knotty Natural
6 years ago
Reply to  lindsay

I think that businesses can’t afford to price gouge. .. It’s so easy for a customer to get online and compare prices. I refuse to shop at Asian bss, as saving a few cents isn’t worth my dignity. Not to say all of them mistreat us but there are too many other factors that I can’t ignore.

Redseouls
Redseouls
6 years ago
Reply to  Knotty Natural

I refuse to shop at Asian bss, as saving a few cents isn’t worth my dignity. ”

THIS!

Gen
Gen
6 years ago
Reply to  lindsay

this has to do with access to resources. if owners have relationships with suppliers in Asia they can get wholesale prices. if you don’t have those relationships you have to pay more and pass on those prices to the consumer. this is why you’ll see the price differences.

Aijalon Halema Leilani
Aijalon Halema Leilani
6 years ago

Going natural is such a movement that will only continue to grow…like my afro!

Alikay, Shea Moisture, Oyin ‚etc! QUALITY BLACK PRODUCTS!

imnotasian
imnotasian
6 years ago

Is Shea Moisture still black-owned? remember Carol’s Daughter? make sure black-owned is truly BLACK-OWNED…because the industry is getting sneaky and sly to still get our $$$$ even with the natural hair movement

Gee
Gee
6 years ago

Hey Guys,
I’m currently searching for a YT vid that had a list of names of black owned hair care products/lines. Until I find that I’d like to let you guys know that their is an app out that helps you find local black businesses near wherever you are. The app is called “Around the Way”. Recently heard about it and just like to let you guys know as well.

B3 Fearless
B3 Fearless
6 years ago

I smell a research project for BGLH. Lol I am interested in having a list of black owned retailers and manufacturers of hair products. The only products that I know for sure are Black OWNED are Alikay Naturals, SheaMoisture, Oyin Handmade (shout out to that Bmore business), Karen’s Body Beautiful, TGIN. Hmmm I feel like I’m missing others. I am VERY curious about the list of Black owned retailers. I remember watching a story years ago about a Black man who owned a beauty supply store in either Georgia or Florida. He said he was struggling primarily because of the… Read more »

Darlyn
Darlyn
6 years ago
Reply to  B3 Fearless

Yes, I am surprised that Target carries so many lines created by us! 🙂 🙂

I love it though!

Blair
Blair
6 years ago
Reply to  B3 Fearless

That is a great idea! I am doing research on the “Natural Hair Movement” and analyzed hundreds of blogs/vlogs and Natural Hair product lines.

The information is out there, its just getting the information to Naturals 😉 which I am working on doing 🙂

TWA4now
TWA4now
6 years ago

Yes, I would live to shop at black owned stores for hair care products and ect. Even if it means $1 more. I always believe in keeping the dollar in the community…black dollars black owned.

Erinma
Erinma
6 years ago

Amen to this!

Shebababy126
Shebababy126
6 years ago

I wish I could thumbs up Cheryl.…my experience has not always pleasant in dealing with Asian owned beauty supply stores…and most recently they have started asking me about my natural hair…what products do we use most and “what is cowashing?”.…Iol…I might just pop in to get something simple like a bottle of this or that.…I hope we as a culture can take this industry by storm.…maybe even implementing natural hair advisors within the stores to answer any questions the customers may have.

Kim jones
6 years ago

I purchase Shea Moisture products because they work, but also because it’s black owned. I’m willing to pay more if it’s stocked in a Target or Walmart just for the convenience of not driving to the bad part of town to get products. I guess I really don’t understand what the issues are why there are not more black owned hair care stores. It’s 2014, you think we would have figured it out by now. Asians come over here from another country and don’t even speak the language let alone knowing about our products and hair, and those stores are… Read more »

melyssa
melyssa
6 years ago
Reply to  Kim jones

That is because we were sleeping like we still are! I’ve never had a problem in the Asian stores maybe because I rarely go in them. As for as blacks dealing with retailers overseas are we learning the language? Target, Walmart, CVS, and Walgreens carry SheaMoisture and other products so are we making a point to ONLY go there? Are any of these companies publicly traded and if so are WE buying stock in it? Are we buying stock in the companies that carry the products?

umm...
umm...
6 years ago

Well, I am glad. Ive been wanting to buy a wig, but I refuse to go into a “Asian beauty supply store” because they want to charge you to try on wigs!? I swear they only do that to “us” because they know we won’t fight against it! I just can’t fathom going into any small store and being charged to try something on. Yet, at beauty supply stores, they have made it a custom to charge unless you purchase a wig. Yes, spending 50 cents on a wig cap pisses me off! Its disrespectful! Sorry about the rant…but yes,… Read more »

Christie
Christie
5 years ago
Reply to  umm...

I’d rather buy a wig from a store that charges 50 cents for a wig cap to try on the wigs. People like you don’t realize that if you want to try it on, so do 10..20..30 other people. Think about all those people trying on the hair without a wig cap. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to possibly catch lice or whatever else other strangers might have.

Edens Sahara
Edens Sahara
6 years ago

blackgirllonghair needs to enable the thumbs up button again because the comments are great.

DrSelina
DrSelina
5 years ago

Can you please add Brixton Beauty Supply in Portland,Or to your list. This brother opened the store this past summer and could use the support.

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