Supporting Black Businesses in the Hair Industry

October 12, 2012  |  

The black hair care industry is a billion dollar industry in America that has largely been dominated by a group outside of the African American community. A little known politically backed deal has allowed for the black hair care industry to be cultivated and monopolized by Koreans. Your average brick and mortar beauty supply store is a Korean run establishment, featuring products largely produced by Korean and Chinese companies. An industry that was ignited by the inventions of Madame CJ Walker and popularized by Dudley, has in the last 30 years made an impasse at allowing African Americans to successfully thrive in an industry that caters to their direct needs, instead placing it in the hands of others. However, in more recent years, with the advances of online shopping and social media, black-owned businesses have been making waves in the hair care scene again, as independently owned companies.

In this article we will seek to highlight black owned hair care businesses, not as an endorsement, but to provide insight, knowledge and inspiration to the black community to support and participate in having ownership of an industry that we are moving into the height of economic success, while others are collecting our coins.

Five years ago, Cindi Primm stepped out of the corporate world and took a leap of faith into the world of business owner. At a young age, while others were fantasizing about being veterinarians and ballerinas, a family friend told Primm about being an entrepreneur and the dream began. In March 2008, Primm opened a store in Atlanta, Sage Naturalceuticals, carrying mostly natural body, bath and hair products. Primm’s goal was to help women find naturally made products for all facets of their daily maintenance, something she could personally stand behind. Sage Naturalceuticals is an ever-evolving business as Primm caters to her clients needs. Though Sage originally had a broad focus with a high demand for body products, with the change in consumer demand, the store has grown to have one of the best selections of natural hair products for all hair textures. Primm notes, as a business owner you can “never put yourself in a box, because evolution is inevitable” and “if you know how to maneuver when change happens then you will survive.” A flexible mindset and a strong ambition to never give up has helped Primm to thrive as a black owner of a beauty supply store and she credits her customers for making it easy for her to be in business, as they voice their satisfaction for her customer service. From woman to woman, it’s great to have someone who understands your needs and can provide a service (with a smile) that is a far cry from your standard BSS experience. For more info on Sage Naturalceuticals check out their site or visit the storefront.

The theme of good customer service carries over into another arena of the black hair care market with Select Strands, a boutique hair extension company out of New York City. As black women, shopping at the local BSS does typically deprive us of a decent customer service experience even though we are the ones guaranteeing that the rent is paid every month. So when we take our business to smaller and independently owned companies it is paramount that they fill that void, a philosophy that Select Strands says they live by. Jude Bernard launched Select Strands in 2010 and partnered with Scheffe to turn it into the boutique hair company that always offers a great product at great prices. Focusing on good customer service with a one-on-one focus for each client and reliable deliveries, Select Strands has no desire to become the biggest. Rather they want to remain a boutique that can inform and educate their client while offering a better quality. To start his business, Bernard traveled to India to and even went through the temple head-shaving process to understand how hair is selected.  In a hair industry that has no regulations, which can leave consumers blindsided, Select Strands strives to listen to their clients needs and shape their business around the consumer. Offering six textures of hair, some even named after exotic locations (though that’s more a reference of texture as all the hair comes from India), they interchange textures based on demand and offer one-on-one consultations to help with the purchasing process. You can find out more information about Select Strands and their NYC showroom from the website.

Know of other Black owned businesses that are offering superior hair products to the Black hair community? Leave a comment below.  Jouelzy offers tutorials on all aspects of Black hair care via her YouTube channel, focusing on women with tight budgets. You can also find her daily hair tips and inspirations on Facebook.

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  • Kayo Halana Malie

    There would first have to be Black owned businesses in the area that one lives on for one to support.

    • Candacey Doris

      Agreed. Where i live it’s either Asians or Latinas. I take the Latina option, but the woman that owns the beauty supply near me is not so good at the customer service thing.

    • Both companies mentioned sell online. I know that the BSS is convenient but shopping online gives you access to other more products.

      • Kayo Halana Malie

        Yea, sure. I shop online all of the time, but I wouldn’t do so with a small business because more than likely they don’t have the ability to protect a customer’s CC or DBT Card information like a big business does.

        • They use the same gateway technology that big businesses do to process credit card orders. As long as the business is verified with your CC provider (Visa/MC/Discover/AMEX) you’re fine.

          • Kayo Halana Malie

            Sure. But I was referring to how they protect customer’s information, not how they process the transactions.

  • daretowearmyownhair

    First off lets start wearing what god gave us. I am sick and tired of seeing weave everywhere on black women. Before there was a weave we managed to style and wear our own hair. Now don’t get me wrong I’m not knocking women who wear weave. I am tired of 8 out of 10 women now days wearing weave. How can we start supporting our own when our first stop is to the Korean shop for HAIR. We need to make our business more proffessional one, hire friendly help, have products avaliable ALL the time, (keep stock) be open on time, keep things neat and clean. Stop girlfriend, mamma, cousin etc. from hanging out in and outside of the store. I don’t want nor am I looking for a hookup. Have personel who knows about the products you carry. And Please Please Please have your counter person be welcoming not with an ATTITUDE, like I’m getting on his or her nerves.

    • Kayo Halana Malie

      You’re tired of how other women wear their own hair?

    • This is why I mentioned a natural hair store and an extension supplier. I’m all for versatility.

  • CA Pullen

    Great article. I am still looking for a black owned beauty supply store in North Carolina

    • Try shopping online. Having a physical beauty supply store is hard for individual retailers because they are blocked out of the Korean hair supplier associations.

  • Shonda Johnson

    I don’t wanna hear black saying they don’t support their own because of customer service, etc ect. They let the Koreans and Asians disrespect them all the time when they walk in their store(follow you around the store,call you all type of names,call you “n” words,sometimes throw money at you,and sometimes even go as far as physically assaulting you)but if blacks do it they don’t support them. Wonder why we will forever be at the bottom of the food chain when supporting our own. I DON’T patronize Korean owned beauty supply stores at all.

    • Kayo Halana Malie

      “They let Koreans and Asians…” Koreans are Asian.

    • Kisses

      You’re assuming that all black people who complain about customer service go to Asian stores on the regular. That’s mighty omniscient of you.

    • Nope

      Grown women shouldn’t wear weaves. Learn how to properly take care of your own damn hair.

      • Kayo Halana Malie

        Who exactly should wear weaves then?

  • York

    The main reason why I find it so hard to support black owned is the lack of customer service. I cannot stand not being greeted properly, having to wait for someone talking to friends, employees yelling to get each others attention, people not understanding the importance of proper speech (in other words, take the hood out your voice), etc. I fully believe if we were to invest time in teaching that skill at a young age, black owned businesses would thrive. I’ve been to both black and white schools; while the black school didn’t seem to have a program in place for this, the white school had a whole two week course for customer relations at a nearby tech school.

  • glad-b

    great do we move forward as a race if we do not support one another?