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For Harriet (and one of my MadameNoire colleagues) came across this ad for a Detroit-area weave loan store that promises to help women lacking in financial resources “to look beautiful.”

“It’s estimated that Black women spend a total of half a trillion dollars on our hair annually, so, of course, a business dedicated entirely to financing hair seems like a logical (?) next step,” says the site. “But you’ve got to worry that this will be yet another way for predatory lenders to trap Black women. No, we’re not the only people who wear weaves, but the unintended consequences are concerning.”

That concern is warranted. You take a loan for a college education, for a house or a car. Not for hair. We contacted the creators of The Weave Loan Store and they gave us assurances that there’s nothing “unscrupulous” going on here; they have roots in the city, have been in the beauty business for a decade and in the hair extension business for about five years. They have no intentions of taking advantage of their own community they say. And in addition to providing loans, you can also purchase hair from them directly.

A story on Mediatakeout has sparked both controversy about their business and lots of competition, say the co-owners, though technically they haven’t opened for business just yet. One of the proprietors only wished to be identified as “Fred” and he works with his wife, who declined to give even a first name. We contacted them through the information that’s readily available on their website. With so much already written about them, they told MadameNoire they were happy to have the chance to talk.

The Weave Loan Store, according to these co-creators, was sparked by what they heard from potential customers who said they would like to purchase quality hair weaves but don’t have the money to afford it. The Weave Loan Store, according to Fred, puts customers in contact with lenders who offer the loans. They insist that they’re just “providing options for customers to better afford weaves.” Fred wanted to make the following clear:

“We’re going to treat our customers with respect. We’ll give them viable options; we won’t be exorbitant. Loans will be reasonable and attainable. We want them to know we’re sensitive to our demographic. We’re not going to disenfranchise our customers.”

The Weave Loan Store is located in the 8 Mile section of Detroit, which Fred says is at a place that attracts customers from across the gamut, urban, suburban, and otherwise.

To be sure, if you have the means to afford something, you’re going to pull out your debit card or your credit card and make the purchase. You wouldn’t seek out a third party for financial help. In fact, that’s one of the things that raises a red flag for us about any system that promises to connect people with questionable financial histories with companies willing to work with them.

Any offer that says you can get a loan with bad or no credit will likely come at a painfully high interest for repayment. Neither of the Weave Loan Store creators would go into detail about the interest rates that their partners are offering, though they said if you have good credit, you’ll get a good rate. For everyone else, they say the rates wouldn’t get into the hundreds of percent that you hear about in horror stories.

Nonetheless, it’s important to read the fine print on any loan agreement that you enter into, especially one where you know your credit isn’t stellar.

Another issue here is the premise that, with a loan, you can now afford to purchase what you desire. Nope. When you have to take a loan for something it means you don’t have the cash on hand to pay for it outright. With something like a college education or a home, you’re getting something of value in return. While some debt is OK (a manageable amount of student loan debt can be fine, for instance), the goal is to always keep debt low.

When you do need a loan, it should be for something that will leave you in a better position than when you started. A college education will yield a good income. A home purchase will get you an asset that will actually appreciate in value. In the case of a car loan, access to transportation also gives you access to a job. So even though the car depreciates, the point is where it gets you (which is why it’s important to drive a car that’s in your price range).

In the case of a weave, you’re paying for something that has ultimately no greater value than your own enjoyment or vanity. Does that mean you shouldn’t spend money to look and feel good? Of course not. And if you want to responsibly use a credit card to pay for that weave, vacation, or cosmetic surgery (pay it back in full quickly), that’s fine. But this is an expenditure that should come out of the disposable portion of your budget, the money set aside for fun extras. You should not ultimately be putting yourself into debt for this. Imagine a bank taking a look at your loan application for a home and seeing that you borrowed money at a high interest for hair. That’s not a person you trust to make sound financial decisions.

The Weave Loan Store, according to its founders, are filling a need that they see in the market. That’s the point of a business, and if they have customers ready to work with them, that’s their right. But reader, we’re sure you look great whether you can get the weave of your dreams or not. And you’ll look even better with the smile you have on your face because you don’t have to pay the price of a loan for your hair.

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