Taking Back the Black Hair Care Industry

by Mika Pettigrew

Taking Back the Black Hair Care Industry It is no secret our hair is a matter of priority to a large number of black women. Many of us have at some point in our lives, if not currently, spent endless hours in the hair salon in hopes that our stylists render an interpretation remotely close to our request, spent far too many dollars purchasing just the right products to ensure tamed tresses or “bought you some hair from the Koreans.” Whether braided, twisted, locked, wigs, weaves or extensions, our “look” can be reinvented with a trip to the salon or beauty supply store.

It’s debated whether morphing into a long, straight haired goddess, for what may appear to be a small fee, is a matter of convenience, economics, professionalism, an expression of femininity or pure self loathing for black women. We live in a society where we are judged by the perception of our appearance and our appearance is a defining statement about who we are or how we wish to be perceived. How we choose to show up as our most beautiful selves is a matter of personal choice. However, the root of these choices, is worthy of introspection. Let’s take a look at the big picture, remembering the major roll our choices play in getting the Black hair care industry back.

In 2004, sales of black hair care products exceeded $1.7 billion, as reported by Mintel International Group, a consumer research company. This figure does not include the synthetic and human hair additions that have gained tremendous popularity in recent years. These products are typically not available at local drugstore, rather beauty supply stores owned by Korean immigrants in most cases.

Our demand for “hair repair” in whatever form, is what fuels the coals of this machine called the Black hair care industry. Korean immigrants “get it” and have gotten it for decades, and now have almost complete control of the industry in 2007. They are sizing us up, assessing our needs, crafting and passing out the products. We, in turn, loyally tithe our dollars to strengthen their communities. It is time to consider the roll we play in the crisis within the Black hair care industry, by examining the choices we are making as it relates to us individually, the Black hair care industry specifically, as well as strengthening our communities and preserving our culture in general.

In business, Korean immigrants understand the concept of location, location, location with beauty supply stores popping up everywhere from Smallsville, USA to major metropolitan cities and everywhere in between, but assuredly found in an urban community. They ensure convenience to the stores, stock them with high demand Black hair care products and sell them at a price point with which non–Korean owned beauty supply stores can’t compete.

One aspect of business Korean–American store owners appear to place little value on is customer service. You may or may not be greeted when you enter their stores, but you will certainly be watched if not followed. Shame on us for perpetuating the growth of the monopoly as they collect billions of our dollars and give nothing back to their indigenous customer’s communities-–not even a pleasant shopping experience.

Koreans dominate the industry with control of more than 80 percent of the distribution of Black hair care products, beauty supply stores and the wig and extension manufacturers.

A documentary entitled Black Hair by Aron Ranen takes a sincere look inside the industry and reveals many of the business tactics that are creating challenges for non-Korean beauty supply store owners to be competitive. The documentary has been screened at national hair shows, industry conferences and can now be viewed at YouTube.com

Ranen’s Black Hair suggests, Koreans have maintained their presence by relying on their language to exclude non-Korean customers. Informational magazines such as QTC and the Beauty Times, which is the number one industry magazine and product order sheets is written partially or totally in Korean. Non-Korean American beauty supply store owners report that distributors answer their phones in Korean and have gone as far as to inquire of their nationality prior to placing orders for hair care products. Some store owners have reported Korean-American distributors selling goods to them at higher prices-–if selling to them at all.

On responses to the documentary, Ranen was quoted saying “White people think the film is unbalanced and unfair. There is an overall fear of exacerbating Korean/Black tensions.”

Ranen’s documentary and countless other sources contend that it is difficult to get a response to allegations from Korean -Americans in the industry, responses vary from complete silence to claiming to have no knowledge. Various accounts suggest there is a code of silence amongst Koreans in the industry, as they remain implicitly unwilling to allow their dominant position to be challenged.

While Korean-Americans have displayed remarkable acumen in business matters, the foundation for such a monopoly was not built by Korean immigrants with astounding work ethics alone. Chosu Libo, a respected South Korean newspaper reports assistance from the U.S. and Korean governments some 40 years ago.

The International Migration Review reports, development of Asian immigrants’ import-export business has been closely related to the increasing economic linkages between Asian countries and the United States. Such linkages are a product of the global economic restructuring where some developing countries of Asia have become major exporters of low cost/low price consumer goods to the United States. The Korean immigrants’ wig business in Los Angeles was studied as a case of contemporary import-export trade among Asian immigrants, with major findings summarized as follows:

The increased reliance of the United States on imported goods by the 1970s led to rapid growth of the export-oriented industry in South Korea. Wigs became the major export item of South Korea due to its cheap labor force and government-aid loans to the wig industry. Consequently, a strong vertical integration developed between Korean wig manufacturers in South Korea and Korean importers, wholesalers, and retailers in the United States–that integration provided Korean immigrants with initial business opportunities in the U.S. economy, particularly in low-income minority areas.

In the early 1900s, Black-Americans controlled the industry with the likes of Madam C.J. Walker, a manufacture and distributor of Black hair care products, and Anthony Overton, a manufacturer of Black beauty aids as well as a magazine publisher and president of a Black-owned bank.

The Journal of Social History reports, that during the years between the Great Migration and the Great Depression, the Black beauty aides industry emerged as a black institution. Black industry professionals developed business strategies to overcome the barriers to economic participation they were being met with during those times.

The period between the Great Depression and the civil rights movement was vital, as the industry proved its resilience to economic and social turmoil growing out of racial discord. This was critical since Black manufacturers in the Black hair care industry managed to emerge from the Great Depression while other institutions disappeared. The industries staying power did not go unnoticed. Manufacturers of Black hair care products became the focus of public discourse during the civil rights movement.

The years from the civil rights movement to the early 1990s proved to be pivotal for the industry. Black manufacturers began to lose ground to large white conglomerates prior to the Korean take over, and economic barriers were reproduced for Black professionals in the industry.

Some black-owned companies such as Soft Sheen emerged to manufacture and/or distribute Black hair care products. Independently black owned companies, such as Dudley Products Inc, Luster Products Inc and Bronner Brothers have been able to withstand the changes in the industry because they either sale directly to beauty salons or have long established relationships with distributors.

In 2004 BOBSA-–the Black Owned Beauty Supply Association was created in an effort to take back the Black hair care industry and bring awareness to the Korean-American’s hold on the black hair care industry. The association represents Black owned beauty supply stores, distributors, manufacturers and beauty supply store owners. One of the association’s visions is to provide distribution of Black hair care products via the Internet and distribution centers.

The Boston Globe reports, Sam Ennon, the organizations director estimates it will cost $5 million to $6 million to stock one distribution warehouse and intends to use the Koreans’ example as a template for establishment. Ennon believes key components for the organizations growth to be “communication with one another, sharing of information, co-op buying together and working together as a unit and a community.”

Though BOBSA has faced criticism for not having a clear stated action plan, the website is chocked-full of information for industry professionals. Some industry professionals have called for a boycott to stop the dollars, strong media campaigns to bring this phenomenon to everyone’s attention and opening of more black –owned beauty supply stores. No doubt, with proper support BOBSA could be a powerful force in the industry.

Ladies, as we contemplate our next “look,” we want to remember the bigger picture, the history of the industry, the power of our dollar and the willingness to make conscious spending choices as part of a collective effort to affect change in the Black hair care industry that was once ours.

For more information please visit blackhairdvd.com and bobsa.org

  • http://www.OneHealthySucker.com BLESS

    “Ladies, as we contemplate our next “look”, we want to remember the bigger picture, the history of the industry and how much power our dollar actually has and be willing to make conscious spending choices as part of a collective effort to effect change in the Black hair care industry that was once ours.”

    APPLAUSE APPLAUSE APPLAUSE! TERRIFIC ARTICLE! KEEP UP THE GOOD WORK!

    ~BLESS~

  • Benedicte

    This is definitely an eye opener! I think a lot of people aren’t aware of what’s going on and it would be interesting to not only create awareness, but also take action to empower our community.

    B

  • Penni Brown

    Great post! We also have to demand that the few black owned hair care companies, cosmetology schools and magazines out there embrace a healthier hair care manifesto. It’s a shame that even our own magazines and hair product companies encourage us to continue practices that are damaging to our hair. It’s not enough to be a black hair company if you’re still promoting a european hair aesthetic.

  • Happily Married

    Can we also put under scrutiny these often flamboyant hairstylists who are often uneducated in how being a good hair specialist effects the black community. I haven’t been in a salon since 2003! Stylists care more about the style than the care of black hair.

  • http://mahaibaluv.blogspot.com Mahaiba

    I was once a victim of the black hair care industry…from braids to weaves, i had them. But I just recently took matters into my own hands and now I’m doing my hair myself and I’d have to say, it’s not looking too shabby…I agree with Happily Married. The stylists definitely care much much more about the style and making their buck than actually focusing on giving you a healthy head of hair…well done Clutch!!

  • http://styleandvogue.blogspot.com DarkEmpress

    Well, I have to say that I appreciate all the information presented in the article, really I can’t think of anywhere else that would provide it. I guess there has to be a movement amongst black women to collectively buy black owned products like Soft Sheen. I personally use organic root stimulator by Namaste because I like the product, I have no idea if it is black owned, but I suspect it is not. The companies need to have some sort of labelling to let black women know that they are black owned. As for Korean shop owners that racially profile their customers, is there any need to put up with that? In the area where I get my hair products the store is black owned. That’s a change we can all easily make. As for going natural to take pride in your ethnic hair, that is fine, but I think the fact that we change up our hair every few months, is a characteristic of our culture. Braids, weaves, perms I’ve had them all and I love it! I can’t see myself having the same hairstyle day in day out. I have had the same hairdresser for 6 years, and she is amazing and really cares about me as a customer being happy and well looked after not just making some money. Prior to her, there were some bad ones, so I think it just takes some looking. We also need to be proactive in rewarding good hair dresser when we can with tips, with christmas cards anything extra we can to say thank you!

  • http://notavailableyet shardell

    I have been in the hair industry since the mid-eighty’s and I have always strived to bring customer satisfaction as top priority, I am now working on having a wig boutique. I decided to do this after seeing over and over how bad we are treated in these beauty supplies stores, as a result I have made a choice to do something about it. I’m so glad i found this website and I will keep coming back to it because of the great information you provide and I will tell everyone I know.

  • http://jesmoi.blogspot.com J.Lynn

    Amazing and truthful article. However, it’s easy to “buy black” online. I support Curls (curls.biz) and Miss Jessie’s (missjessies.com). These women are technically “multicultural” but clearly sisters. Also, Curl Junkie is a black owned hair care line. You just have to be ready to search!

  • Rony

    I am currently in the process of opening a black owned BSS. I will be forwarding this link to everyone I know. We really have to make a change.

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  • tajane

    I am so glad that you featured this article. Two years ago after a bad experience in a Korean owned beauty supply I decided to only buy my products from black owned stores. But there are so few and I started to give up ,but you’ve convinced me to continue.

  • LBellatrix

    The black hair care industry includes not just the BSS owners (all of them), but the companies manufacturing the products as well as the salons and stylists. The entire industry needs to be revamped to promote hair health as opposed to style and, yes, conformity.

    I haven’t stepped foot in a salon in 7 years. I haven’t stepped foot in a BSS (aside from Sally’s) in at least 3 years. I do my own (natural) hair and buy some products from black-owned online businesses like Qhemet Biologics. I got EDUCATED on my hair and its care and consequently it’s the healthiest it’s ever been.

    The power is in the dollar and as you can see, I’ve exercised my choice. Isn’t it interesting that I had to largely turn my back on the industry in order to get healthy hair? And isn’t it interesting that in 2007, with all these so-called choices available, more black women are walking around with weak-looking, damaged hair than ever before? Something’s wrong, people, and it’s not all the fault of the Koreans…

  • http://www.blackhairdvd.com Aron Ranen

    This film shows how obvious the problem is..and I believe it will be solved by strong African American WOMEN…..where is the next Madame CJ? Is it Oprah?

    Can someone get my film to the most wealthy African Americans…All we need is $13 Million dollars to open 100 stores in 100 days and set up a distribution and marketing center…

    Or someone could buy SALLY’s right NOW!!!

    I have a dream….Aron Ranen …the filmmaker…

    I teach video at http://www.dvworkshops.com

  • http://www.clutchmagazine.com Clutch

    Wow! Thank you Mr. Ranen for gracing our site. Your documentary really helped open the eyes of many African American women. We would love to help you inform and empower women on this important crisis in the African American community. We believe one of the best ways to help is to offer alternatives and to spotlight beauty/hair brands by beautiful women of color.

  • http://www.blackhairdvd.com aron
  • http://www.yahoo.com Crystal

    Im a Young hair stylist who wants to open up my own salon one day.Im glad i came across this web site because its givin me more knowledge on my people and the hair industry.So with that being said i want to sell african american products in my salon.
    ? Is doctor miracles a Black owned product.

  • Rilz

    It’s about time. No other race of people have been so damaged by this type of domination. I sometimes ask myself. Are we lazy, crazy or just stupid? No one’s happy with this present situation. Thank God for the computer. This article should be dropped to every Black radio and tv show in the nation. The Black congress men and women should be involved, since (according to this article), hair is not allow to come into the United States from China to provide some competition. And finally, Black History Month is in February. That’s the best Month to be organized and start taking back our own power..Yes Yes-Yes We Can. If you see a sister buying it in Fedruary, it’s just like riding the bus during the boycott, everyone is hurt. The future of our children depends on our actions today.

  • http://nearandfar.wordpress.com nearandfar

    You can’t be mad at the killer if the you’ve given him the bullet.

    Black people would do better to invest the billions of dollars that we spend ON our heads and start putting more BUSINESS SENSE IN OUR HEADS. I live and work and thrive in Korea and I love it. No one should be mad at Koreans who made smart business choices, we should learn from them and take back the industry or share it. There’s enough for all, people.

  • Janice

    A friend forwarded this article to me and I read it with great pleasure. If anyone have anymore leads to websites that sells black hair products please share the information; it’s greatly appreciated.

  • Ravin Bean

    As a Hairstylist/Cosmetology Instructor/Salon owner
    i am very disturbed by our industry being commanded
    by immigrants that we have allowed to put our heritage on lock down. We continue to patronize these stores, We continue to allow them to talk bad to us and about us in their own languages and we still spend hundreds of dollars while they are following us around or survalencing us on their many cameras. We go to work in the stores and give up all our secrets. We Have to Stop these behaviors and start patronizing our own black owned and operated businesses. Stop going to the nail shops, stop buying their goods. It is disturbing that our people will pass by a black owned business to patronize someone elese. If we stop and build our own people up we can also be that strong. Start finding out all of their screts and us them to our advantage.

  • Revolutionary

    where can I buy my products from African/Black Americans , so that my dollars remain in the Black economy???
    Please advise

  • DESIREE

    THANKS FOR THE INFORMATION ON THIS WEBSITE. I WAS JUST SURFING AND CAME ACROSS THIS. I USED TO HAVE A BSS, AND HAD TO CLOSE IT. I WOULD LIKE TO DO IT AGAIN, IF I KNEW MORE ABOUT WHERE SOME OF THE BLACK DISTRIBUTORS FOR THE BLACK PRODUCTS COULD BE FOUND. I ONLY HAD A SMALL SECTION IN MY STORE FOR THIS. WE HAD TWO BLACK OWNED BSS, AFTER ME AND NOW THEY ARE CLOSED.WE DO NOT SUPPORT EACH OTHER. I LOVED THIS BUSINESS, AND MAYBE I WILL TRY IT AGAIN, AFTER SEEING THIS. I HAVE OFTEN TALKED ABOUT THIS WITH PEOPLE, AND ALWAYS HAVE FELT, THAT WE LET THIS HAPPEN, BUT A CHANGE DOES NEED TO COME, BECAUSE TO SOME OF THEM IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GREEN.

  • Denise

    I totally agree with the great dialogue/comments. We are the only people that allow other groups to come in and dominate our “culture”. Asians would run us out of business if we learned how to cook their food and tried to open a restaurant. We need to start patronizing each others businesses and stick together like we did in the 60s!!!

  • Tony Kim

    Instead of pointing fingers and blaming others for missed opportunities and economic injustices of a capitalist society. Why don’t we find ways to work together, that is mutually beneficial to all? There’s enough market out there to share the wealth. On a side note, I believe that one does not necessarily have to be of the same ethnic background of the clientele that they are servicing. Thus, I disagree with the notion that ONLY African-Americans should provide services to other African-Americans. For example, a doctor does not necessarily have to be the same ethnic background as the patient he/she is treating.

  • nseal

    I’m prouder to see that more black people are opening their eyes and deciding to take back much of our beauty produces and business. I have seen the documentary black hair and I believe it has helped spread the word about the hair crises, but I also worry about the perception we start to see about Koreans. I don’t think they are to blame for the problems. We are the ones that let this industry slip threw our fingers, all they did was pick up where we left off and made it prosper. If we want it back we must open our own stores and sell more of our own products. I’m a business man and I see it as competition. we can’t get mad at them for not wanting to whole sail to us that’s the beauty and nature of business no one said its fair but that doesn’t mean give up and complain about Koreans not playing fair. We have to find other sources and ways.

  • lecount mclaughlin

    Hello

    I am trying to contact aron ranen via snail mail or email. Are you aware of either of these avenues? Any assistance would be greatly appreciated.

    LeCount..

  • http://www.clutchmagazine.com Clutch
  • marsha Atwater

    Don’t you think Black folks want businesses too. The U.S. government has helped the Asians start and maintain businesses in our community. Not only have they helped them, they’ve promoted them by mentoring, giving them monies, skills, training and direction to start and maintain black hair care businesses in our community. Do you think the Asians just came over here, brainstormed one day and said, ‘we’ll go into the black hair care business and make a killing, and by not speaking English at that. That would be like you going to Asia and striking it rich by picking the right business, without the aid of the government, how well do you think you would do. Come on people, give ourselves some credit! The American government, namely the governors of the states bring in business, they court these people. So they negotiate and offer much for them to come. They could help and promote black businesses in our own communities, but they will not. We’re not asking for hand outs. What we want is for our tax money to be used to help us and they will not do it. (Have you ever made an appointment with the governor and asked him about this). Doesn’t it seem strange that builders can create all kinds of businesses all around the inner city, but will not create one small business inside the city, not one bakery, not one computer school, not one cleaners that’s owned by Blacks. While the Asians are making a killing off us, our neighborhoods are steady deteriorating and dying as they have been for years.

  • Niqs

    You know whats really unreal or real about this situation its happening worldwide- England and beyond, dont know when or how this will stop, -sounds like another one of those great conspiracy theories to me, as usual we black folk have been kept out of the loop.
    I have to comment on the fact that having a weave on could be seen as self loathing, i think we really put far too much emphasis on our hair.
    Having a Fro, bob, twists, locks, weave whatever – having a natural doesnt make you anymore clued up than the next chick, at the end of the day when we tying our headscarfs to go to bed (albeit alone some of us) its what goes on IN YOUR HEAD that counts – NOT ON IT, if you lost your natural hair tommorrow via alopecia does that automatically mean you are no longer concious, nubian, mother earth- come on black women, im hoping there is a lot more to us than a hairstyle…

  • NaturalViews

    Black people have always given their monies up to the outside interest and never to their own communities or own entities. Many fall into the trappings of crabs in the barrel in not wanting to see others have but will freely give to other groups with no problems. We wonder why we are still at the bottom all you have to do is raise your head and look up for it surely is not our people. We are the creators of natural hairstyles yet we allow our ideas, invention and marketing to get out of our scope and into the hands of foreigners who do not and will not give back to our communities or people.

    When are we going to stand up and stop being stuck on stupid?, and realize we can shut these businesses down by simply not patronizing them in any form. That means no hair care products, food or business. When we pull back the dollars they listen very closely. They move into our neighborhoods and we welcome them teeth and all while they jack the prices up and laugh all the way to the bank. But when one of our own open a store we want them to give a discount or what you can do for me atttitude. I am so sick and tired of our own people who will sink a black owned business only to go across the street to an Asian/Korean/India and take the rude attitude and high prices. They will follow you around the store or they will call the police if they find you suspicious. Is that what our people have come to begging again?

    I know sisters love their hairstyled but enough with the weaves and putting dead people’s hair on your head. We need be proud of our natural locks. Many women have fallen victim to the notion that we have “bad hair” we were born with our natural locks how can it be bad, because some white person said so? We have to stop degrading our natural looks and traits. Every black woman I see is beautiful and I do not want to look like some pale half baked white woman. They are trying to emulate the features of the black woman…full lips, full butt and large breast. We have all that and then some naturally yet we are killing ourselves trying to emulate the pale faces. We have even fallen from the rat posion in the face..BOTOX! Lets be real sisters we must take care of our bodies internally and stop falling for all this nonsense.

    We have to take the hair care business back and patronize to our people. Need to be proactive in creating more black owned businesses that take care of our people. If they can do it so can we, the only thing that is holding us back is us.

  • Mare

    I read the article, and an a little disturbe, but an glad to see that I am not the only one who realize this about the black hair product. But if someone want to open a store for black hair product, where would they go and how would the get financing to open as store as such.

  • jainbe

    I am so glad to get this information as a stylist of second generation. I remember when Paul Mitchell first started out at a Hair Show in Ohio. NOw that was atleast 15yrs ago and PM have dominated their industry with schools and products in mainstream and retail sales also. They had an idea of how to make their money with a diverse clientale. We now have black stylist working for them and showing all the techniques so now we not only compete with black stylist but all races have the oppotunity to gain the knowledge of how to maintain healthy black hair. My grandmother was as a stylist and she said that the young folk dont want to listen, they need to take back their industry. We’ve gottten so lazy with this middle man that he has monopolized the industry.
    We need to take back whats ours and promote healthy hair. I believe that if the government can set up an effect that will shut down the moms and pops stores: I think that with us not being distributors there is something in this prodouct that we are selling and its creating bad hair (balding). the next generation to come will be insecure of there hair becuase of this and therefore that will keep the koreans on top because now were insecure and in need of a weave.
    Alot of people dont take us stylist serious so they try to do the same effect at home and scientifically it dosent work. People take back wats urs and rightfully claim it….

  • http://www.fotki.com/ExtendedBeauty ExtendedBeauty

    As a Natural Hairstylist,I believe this Problem is deeper than it seems.We as a people first need to learn to stop promoting self hate.Blacks tend to have a competitive mind frame toward each other.We seem to rather patronize any other nationality besides our own.If we could master loving ourselves,Stop looking down on extremely curly hair,and learn to care for it,We would be better off.Would you put “Nair”in your hair as a hairdressing??Then why would you use a relaxer?Its made with the same thing.And we wonder why we need to use Weave hair…smh

  • Monike tee

    I agree with this article 100%. I make a natural hair care product that works wonders on all hair types. My challenge is I want women to get it jsut so that we can have healthier and loong hair if desired.

    But with the Korean Nation with the reins they wont even buy a product that women really need if its not from one of their own.

  • g.

    i have had this conversation with my husband before. this video and article is absolutely correct.

  • Chelle

    To BlackEmpress Organic Root stimulator is a black owned hair care products producer. I also encourage others to invest their money in Carol’s Daughter and Oyin hair care products. Let’s all support black owned businesses.

  • JENNIEL

    I LIVE IN TRINIDAD AND SPICALIZES IN BLACK HAIR

  • Ada

    I have lived in Asia for more than 12 years. In my first visit to America I was looking forward to have a business link with some beauty stores in US. But I was surprised because Asian owned most beauty stores. I felt out of place, because in Asia they will not sell to you if you are buying less than a 20ft container. I can’t buy a container without varieties were we have few of us. I am happy that we blacks are aware. What can we do to help ourselves?

    Ada Asia

  • Mary

    Hi Ada, I am planning own opening my own Beauty Supply Store in 2009. I have been searching the web for a wealth of information to guide me in starting my own BSS when I came across this site. I feel very blessed that I found a site like this and can network with people who has the same interest as mind. Reading your comment Ada it sounds like u have the contacts to buy form the Asian; if that is so can you contact me and let me know how I can buy from them to. Its my dream to have a 1000sq foot beauty supply store stock to the full with lots of variety of hair and hair care products. So if you can help me or anybody else out their that can help me please respond this comment or email me at [email protected].

    Thank You
    Mary

  • Mary

    So Ada what does the 20ft container consist of and how much does it cost?

    Mary

  • Mary

    How much do it cost for one to start their own Beauty Supply Store?

  • sarah terry

    I want to open up my own black owned business. I am tired of how I get treated by the very few hair stores in my area. I know that I can get a good business started if I knew where to begin. Any advice?

  • http://clutchmagonline pinkrules

    great article. very insightful.

  • http://www.COolCrys.wordpress.com Crys

    I’ve been following this documentary since it was featured on Micheal Baisden a couple years ago. The information is SO disturbing. The SYSTEMATIC exclusion of African Americans in the black hair care industry is disgusting.

    I’ve been a “nappy head” since 2001 and have since started making my own products (for personal use, not for profit).

    Thank you CLutch for continuously giving us GREAT information! I’ll definitely SREAD the word. Those of us who are here…we’re the CHOIR…we already KNOW…its up to us to get the information to the uninformed!

  • Alex

    After going natural (one year this April) I had to do research on how to take care of my hair. I stumbled upon and sought out businesses for natural hair care, most (or a lot anyway) are Black owned. Also if you go to youtube, there’s ton’s of product reviews on Black owned hair care products and companies. If you go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mp6KnmksUss there is a user RusticBeauty has links to a lot of haircare sites , most are Black owned.

    I remember as a girl going into these Korean owned hair shops and not always being treated so nicely. Now that I’m an adult, I wouldn’t dare spend my hard earned money in a place , where I’m not treated with respect. Plus if you google some of the ingredients in hair products (for any hair ) there’s tons of crap in them that aren’t good for your hair, or over all health.

    Let go of the creamy crack. Support your own. If we use products that are actually good for our hair and learn to take care of what God created us with; we won’t need weaves and perms to make our hair “manageable”. You ever wonder why people with locs have no problems getting there hair to grow?And it’s long. I’m no expert or professional, but I did have a perm in my head for ten years and supported these Korean businesses. Knowledge is power, and so is money. Cut the support and this beast will starve.

  • cherish

    Everytime I go to the beauty market, there is always someone of Asian descent, managing the register, and watching your every move. They sure don’t know nothing about styling a Black woman’s hair, but they sure know that money! There need to be more African American hair care industry owners that not only know their craft, but can manage the business.

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  • Mary

    We must support our own. When I was in Atlanta, I went to beauty supply store where there was a demonstration. I bought the Black Earth products and have had to order online or have my daughter buy and mail the products to me. As more of us go natural, it is important to use products made for our hair. http://www.treasuredlocks.com/blacearprod.html

  • Jai

    I’ve been natural for almost 4 years and I proudly support the following black owned businesses when I purchase my hair products:

    http://www.oyinhandmade.com/oyin/ (Oyin)

    http://www.qhemetbiologics.com/Default.asp?Redirected=Y (Qhemet Biologics)
    http://www.sistasplace.biz/products.php?cat=6&pg=2 (Sistas Place has products by Curls, Blended Beauty, Nubian Heritage and much more)

    We need to support each other more!!!!

  • Classay

    Totally agree with the commenters on this site. We are at fault for this problem and the lack of ownership amongst blacks is a global problem that affects us as a race. In the UK shops selling “black” products are owned by Indians as opposed to Koreans. You could go to the blackest neighbourhood but nearly all the shops there will be Indian/Asian owned. This causes blacks to put money in asian pockets, money that could otherwise go to our own community and serve the black neighbourhoods.

    One of the reasons why Asians, Indians and Jews are generally wealthy is that they create their own businesses that serve their own communities. Some of the wealthiest communities in Britain are predominantly Jewish and in these communities everything owned by Jews, sold buy Jews and bought by Jews- this results in Jewish financial wealth. Blacks need to follow in this lead and do the same; we can’t complain about poverty in black neighbourhoods if we’re the ones putting every penny we earn into the hands of other races. Blacks need to be way more entrepeneurial.

    And for those who asked about black owned hair companies there are
    Anita Grant, Miss Jessies, Curlz.biz, Curl Junkie, Bee Curly, Carol’s Daughter and a lot more. Also if you go to motowngirl.com there are a whole bunch of adverts on her site that link to really good black owned hair and beauty products.

  • Denise G.

    This is a great website. I want to open up my own black beauty supply store. I have the space in my salon but I don’t know where to begin. Any advice? Any advice is welcome.

  • ShaRenee

    Many great comments. Why be mad at Koreans who sell products that people want to buy? You vote with your dollars. If you want great customer service and great products visit http://www.jaguarluxuryremi.com- American owned hair extension manufacturer. Also, There are several BLACK owned online beauty suppliers and hair suppliers and no one had to protest or boycott, just spend your money where if FEELS right, where you are treated with courtesy and respect. http://www.lfhair. com, runiquebeautysupply.com, and they are many others…NO need to protest people, just vote with your dollar.

  • GRACI MAXI

    I BRIEFLY WORKED FOR A KOREAN-OWNED BEAUTY SUPPLY STORE IN BROOKLYN IN THE LATE 1980′S. I WAS ABLE TO GET HOLD OF THE ORDER SHEETS AND ALTHOUGH THEY WERE WRITTEN IN ENGLISH, THE VOICE ON THE OTHER END OF THE PHONE OFTEN HAD A KOREAN ACCENT AND ONLY WOULD SPEAK WITH FELLOW KOREANS. KOREANS DO SELL A PRODUCT THAT WE BLACK PEOPLE WANT, BUT THEY ARE OFTEN RUDE WITH LITTLE TO NO GOOD CUSTOMER SERVICE SKILLS NOT TO MENTION HOW THEY FOLLOW YOR AROUND THE STORE LIKE A COMMON THEIF. THEY MIGHT HIRE ONE OR TWO OF US TO WORK IN THEIR STORES HERE AND THERE BUT OTHER THAN THAT THEY DO LITTLE ELSE FOR OUR COMMUNITIES AND TO BE QUITE FRANK–I DON’T EXPECT THEM TO! THAT’S OUR JOB AND YOU KNOW WHAT ELSE? WE DON’T NEED THEM- LITERATELY.

    LET’S NOT FORGET AMERICA IS THE SO-CALLED “LAND OF OPPOURTUNITY” FOR ALL WHO PERSUE IT. SO BLACK PEOPLE LET’S GET PERSUING! “WHERE THERE’S A WILL THERE’S A WAY” RIGHT? WE CAN OPEN OUR OWN BUSINESSES AND WORK FOR OURSELVES!
    FIGURE OUT WHAT WE AS A COMMUNITY REALLY WANT…CLOTHING LINES, SHOES, MUSIC, SOUL FOOD? JUST DON’T STOP AT BLACK HAIR CARE PRODUCTS. RESEARCH WHAT WE WANT, OPEN OUR OWN BUSINESSES IN OUR OWN COMMUNITES AND DO IT BETTER THAN THE COMPITION. THAT’S THE AMERICAN WAY! AND WHEN YOU MAKE IT, PASS THE BATON! HELP THE NEXT PERSON. COMMUNICATE AND SHARE YOUR SUCESSES.

    BE CONSCIOUS WHERE YOU SPEND YOUR MONEY JUST DON’T BY FROM KOREANS BECAUSE THEY’RE INEXPENSIVE. JUST DON’T BY FROM BLACKS BECAUSE THEIR BLACKS. BUY THE BEST PRODUCTS FOR YOUR DOLLARS REGUARDLESS OF WHO OWNS THE STORE. SHOP WHERE YOUR TREATED THE WAY YOU WANT TO BE TREATED. YOU CAN BE SUPPORTIVE TO YOUR COMMUNITIES WITHOUT PLAYING THE RACE CARD. LET’S HOLD EACH OTHER’S HANDS ALL THE WAY TO THE TOP!

  • KitKat

    Sure I will buy black hair products when they become 100% ORGANIC!!!

  • http://www.3sistersbeautysupply.com 3 Sister’s Beauty Supply

    My husband and I recently opened a beauty supply store in Plano, TX called 3 Sister’s Beauty Supply. It has been a long journey, but we are here just six months in. We have had problems purchasing hair and I am sure our wholesale prices on liquid goods are more than the Koreans pay even when we purchase in larger quantities. But again we are here to stick it out and would like to invite your members to check out our site at http://www.3sistersbeautysupply.com.
    RETHINK Beauty Supply and shop with 3 Sister’s….
    Finally a Beauty Supply that Looks Like You!!

  • http://saveblackromance.com Angela

    Sister’s Beauty, I want to look at the website but the music is killing me. That is a major no-no in Web Design 101–if people are at work, they can’t have a website with music telling their boss that they aren’t doing their job.

  • http://www.3sistersbeautysupply.com 3 Sister’s Beauty
  • http://bobsasalonspecialist.com Terry Akins

    Visit http://bobsasalonspecialist.com for more information on ways to break into the industry.

  • Beware of Bobsa

    Sam Ennon is a big dissapointment. He hurts the own people his cause is supposed to defend. He ripped me off thousands of dollars. I’ve been depressed for months because he took away my dream of having my own shop. He called me daily and supported me before he received my money. He promised that he could do whatever I asked for, redesign the shops, get all the products I wanted and at the end nothing. I am so hurt and dissapointed. I really wanted to support the Black community and the whole mission of the project, but now I wonder how can he dare to criticize the Koreans and then do exactly the same or worst to his own “black dots”. It is shameful and he should pay for all the pain and dissapointment he has caused. Because of people like him it’s hard to imagine us as a united community as Koreans are.

  • http://www.derjers.com Axel Poessy

    Great informative article! Knowledge is power. Due to the information you have so clearly outlined, Derjers International is extremely proud to be America’s first African American & Latin owned hair care manufacturer. With the assistance of our angelical covering, we are determined to break such barriers in this industry. We are here to make a difference. Recently our firm acquired the formula that had been selling in hair care clinics for 40 years and with new ethnic owners, we are taking a fresh new and educational approach to inform the general public about many hair issues that have been largely overlooked by hair companies. Derjers is making a difference by bringing to market clinically proven products at a fraction of the cost of a hair clinic visit to make them more accessible to people suffering from thinning hair, damaged strands and scalp conditions unnecessarily. We applaud diversity and innovation and most importantly,we encourage people to look within themselves to find the treasure inside each of us – the true identity that truly make us shine, regardless of race.

  • Ms W

    If anybody has info on Black owned Beauty Supply stores in the Philly and Chicago area please let me know!

  • fred cooke

    The only thing I hear about in black forms and websites is how the Asians robbed or took control of the black hair industry. They did not take control they can not make a beautician buy their products. The only reason a black beautician would buy an Asian, Caucasian or Mexican product is it’s of the same quality and cheaper. Remember business is about making as much money as possible in the shortest amount of time. The consumer/ customer are interested in purchasing a product or a service at the lowest and best price. When you put these elements together a black beautician is forced to buy products at the lowest price possible to stay in competition with the operator next to her. If one beautician is charging $135.00 for the same hair style that the chair next to them is charging $95 for, who do you think that customer is going to next week. Business only has one color green and green business means you earn the most money by what ever means possible. The price of labor in the U.S. is to high, 10 to 15 dollars per hour for a black hair products manufactures to produce their product and stay in competition with the Asians. The Asians are paying a labor rate of 3 to 5 dollar per hour, at that labor rate U.S. Black, White, Green or Gray businesses can not compete with Asian hair products. If the black manufactures want to be competitive they will have to go to a 3rd world country to have their products manufactured. If Ford, GM, General Electric, Microsoft and hundreds of others moved their base manufacturing to a 3rd world country I say this to black hair manufactures it’s time to get out of Dodge and go to a another production strategy. I promise you the Koreans are more than likely having a lot of their products manufactured in China and Black manufactures can do the same thing. I have a friend that goes to China and buys laptop computers 10,000 at a time he brings them in and sells $1200 brand new units for $425 and he’s black and he sells them from a home based business. Big businesses is not black, white or yellow its green and the color green sees no other color. If a black beautician can buy Asian products at a lower price and by doing so earn $40,000 more a year and that’s the difference between riding in a Benz to work rather than the bus. If that’s the case I’m getting in the Benz. If over a span of five years I could earn an extra $40.000 a year and you multiply that times 5 years it adds up to $200,000. That’s the difference between living in a 4 room hut and a 4 bedroom house. Do you see the picture?
    Back to the statement that “Asians took control of the black hair products business” that’s just an excuses from black manufactures and suppliers because they don’t know how or can’t produce their products at the same price as the Asians. Here is who really took control of the industry. The independent black beauticians took advantage of the Asians low price products so they could ride in a Benz and live in a 4 bedroom house. Here’s my message to Black Business Owners. Re-think, re-strategize and re-plan your business concept and quite crying about the Asians. (By the way I’m a black business opportunist with green blood, deep green)

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  • Allyson

    I am trying to get my hair product in beauty supply stores is there a list of black distributors or beauty supply stores. Can anyone help?

  • tiny

    Fred Cooke…would like to speak with you.

  • darkchild

    Just a consumer who is frustrated with having to go only to koreans to get my nails done or buy my hair products. I live in atlanta. Please help. What can I do to buy from black owned distributors and manufacturers when they seem not to even exist in certain. What can I do to be a part of the solution. I am deeply saddened by this at a time when our community is suffering so much, our dollars will never be recycled back into the community if this keeps up. They aren’t even curteous when you go in their stores. and they always, always follow you around as if you are stealing. yet we are forced to buy from them or look pitiful.

  • darkchild

    thank you for your message. It sounded like you were yelling a bit but yet your message is invaluable. We have to be reminded of ways to do business. I want to help the situation yet I do not know where to begin. I know it really is all about the bottom line. I am willing to pay extra else where because my black community means more to me than getting the product for cheap price. yet I want to also go where the black person goes to india him/herself and buy direct cut out the middle man, the korean. they are even professional when taking your money. almost like they know we have nowhere else to go. rather rude at times actually. always follow you around. but my post was to say thank you for the insight on how business really works.

  • darkchild

    I completely agree with you. I have been wondering where are all the smart people and you are all over here. I will have to visit this site more often. I have been truly inspired reading some of the posts here. I am with you on this one. I have always looked to the Jews as an example to follow instead of blaming others. I wish we all would come together and support each other like that. but I hear so much negativity in day-to-day life. Also, I like the Jews because their product is usually of high quality. Anything they do they give it their best. I wish I could same the same for us.

  • Mehna

    “On responses to the documentary, Ranen was quoted saying ‘White people think the film is unbalanced and unfair. There is an overall fear of exacerbating Korean/Black tensions.’”

    It’s not even the Korean people who think the film is unbalanced and unfair. It’s the White people. Maybe the film wasn’t objective just as this article isn’t objective.

    And we do have to worry about exacerbating Korean/Black tension. It doesn’t help either groups. The problem is that we, minorities, are fighting for such small piece of the American pie because we don’t have access to the rest. If we don’t find a way to work together, the tension between the two groups will increase and we will end up fighting over crumbs in the end.

    “Chosu Libo, a respected South Korean newspaper reports assistance from the U.S. and Korean governments some 40 years ago.”

    It’s Chosun Ilbo. The writer of this article couldn’t even get the name right? How reliable is the rest of the information?

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  • http://www.essenceofsilk.com KarenC

    I loved this article. I found it very informative & eye opening. Thank you for writing it.

  • dvine

    if i could find one black owned hair store i’d go there regardless of price..

  • charles

    The black female is te answer! We could begin to retake the industry tomorrow if African American women used their collective resources to organize. For example, what if the Deltas and AKA’S decided they would take the leed and open black owned beauty supply stores. One group takes all states east of the Mississippi the other takes the west. Any manufacturer that would not wholesale the product to our stores at exactly the same price as Korean owned stores, would be immediately boycotted nationally. This would allow us to promote more African American owned product lines along with lines owned by others (for now). How many jobs would be created and how many dollars could be re circulated in our community? We must begin to put these type of thoughts into the minds of our young high school and college students that they might return to their own neighborhoods and prosper.
    . Remember, the African American female represents 100 percent of the customer base for Korean owned beauty supply stores without them there is no business. Sistas, let’s get busy!

  • Tina

    You have made some valid points. But I don’t know if I would say people are “whining” that Asians took over, it’s a known fact. And we for a large part are to blame for alowing it with our poor business decisions, lack of support from our own. One of the key reasons why they were able to take over is because they support their own, so therefore they’re able to multiply…If you read the profiles and listen to the interviews and read the books you’ll see that those successful businesses and business owners support their community, they share, they make deals and they don’t operate as “an all about me attitude” Unfortunately somewhere along the line african americans developed the it’s all about “me” attitude and jealousy and we lost the unity when it comes to black businesses. Not to say that we shouldn’t support other businesses we definately should but the percentage of support for the black businesses is awfully low in comparison to others..

  • TRUTH

    Green Blood huh, I guess that’s the same type of blood the African’s had that sold us into slavery.

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  • http://www.gossipbeast.com Gosbeas

    You don’t seem to be aware that “opportunist” has negative connotations and isn’t something one should be proud of. The definition is the practice of taking selfish advantage of circumstances – with little regard for principles, or with what the consequences are for others.

  • Dub

    learn to spell u retard. you wonder why black businesses don’t succeed? learn to spell, speak, and how to add and subtract first.

  • S.J.
  • http://gravatar.com/rosselld Dee Rossell

    It is imperative for African Americans to get into the billion dollar industry of hair care, extension, and installation by becomes more than consumers but by becoming producers and innovators. The American Hair Factory located in Atlanta,GA is doing just that, sparking elevated thoughts within African American communities on producing/manufacturing quality hair while teaching a trade, and employing Americans to manufacture hair. A manufacturing renaissance is needed in America, now.

  • C.S.

    Eh, totally disagree. Why do you think Asians got into the business to beging with? It benefits them none only their pockets and back into the neighborhoods THEY live in. I find Asians to be completely disrespectly to the customers they are making money off of. Yes Asians produce things of a cheaper quality AND price.Does that make the article any less valid. Do you see blacks owning Chinese restuarnats in their neighborshood, no IT WOULD NEVER BE ALLOWED, WE WOULD NEVER BE ABLE TO PROFITE OFF OF SOMETHING NEAR AND DEAR TO THEM. Open your eyes and stop being so sensitive because it’s true, BLACKS need to take this industry back point blank period.

  • Liszetai

    Excellent article! African-Americans should control their bodies, hair, minds and futures. I think that we should own and operate businesses that enhance our self-worth. There is VERY big money behind the pressure to look like someone, nee anyone, who is not of African descent. There is a bad karma to profit upon the destruction of a group of people who have the misfortune to be from a land loaded with diamonds and gold and, are therefore the continual target of covetous others. These others work overtime to put down anything black or African. It’s illegal in many jurisdictions to operate a business braiding or locking hair. Let’s get real.

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