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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