You can’t mention wigs and weaves without eliciting a chorus of snickers from our readers, but the reality is black women wear them, love them and spend big money to own them. The business of hair extensions is a $9 billion (yes, billion) dollar industry with black women doing much of the spending and little of the selling.

The disparity is borne from the Korean monopoly on distribution. It’s not that black female sellers aren’t there, it’s that they’re systematically shut out from acquiring product to sell in their stores by Korean distributors, according to The Florida Courier.

“Getting hair is a huge hurdle, because the distributors are Korean and most times they will only sell to other Koreans. White said, “I have to buy hair through exchange. It is rough, but if I don’t increase my hair game, I won’t be in business next year. It is a cold business in terms of the hair game.

Johnson said that some Korean distributors say they will not sell to stores within so many miles from their other clients, but when she tried to have hair sent to her Aliquippa location, which has no other beauty supply stores, they still would not let her purchase it. She said one distributor also told her the hair she wanted was no longer being sold, but when she went to a local Korean beauty supply store, that same hair was there. When she inquired about it she was told that a local store had told the distributor that if he sold to her, he would no longer buy from him. She said she agrees with location rules, ‘but there needs to be regulations. One Korean store should not be able to dictate the entire industry in one area.”

Whether you personally choose to wear weaves or not, you can agree that every industry, especially a billion dollar one, should be regulated.

And it also makes sense that black women, who make up the majority of consumers, are represented on the other side of the counter.

White has a solution for the current state of the weave business, that reads as a call action to black business owners:

White said Koreans succeed in the industry because they support each other, but the Black community does not. “They (Koreans) have the relationships and work within, we laugh at them when they are living together, then they break through and have four stores in our community. But we won’t help each other out. It is a culture thing.” None of the other Black-owned beauty supply stores work together to pool their resources.

What are your thoughts, Clutchettes? Are Korean distributors unfairly shutting out black business owners? Is the solution for entrepreneurs of color to work together and pool their resources? Discuss.

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  • silkynaps

    It is a little disgusting how we have allowed Koreans to corner the market on beauty supply stores.

    And I probably shouldn’t care, but Koreans having a lock on that industry doesn’t disappoint me as much as Black women running around with Korean hair stapled to their heads in the first place. Why not take that money and invest in cultivating and rocking one’s own luxurious mane?

    If I went bald today, I’d wear a scarf on my head before I’d duct tape someone else’s hair to it. But that’s just me.

  • Picabo

    Messages like this need to be broadcast far and wide among black women. I know everyone likes what they like but we have to little to be spending so much. My only hope is that we all get angry enough to put the Koreans out of business. Imagine what we could be with an extra 9 billion smartly invested?

  • LKJ

    I quit shopping at the Korean hair stores in my area a couple of years ago when Michael Baisden started talking about how the hair game is set up to exclude black entrepreneurs. Unfortunately in my area that means no more beauty supply stores, all my stuff now has to come from Target, or Walmart but I do buy black owned.

  • jamesfrmphilly

    wear your hair nappy and keep your money……

  • Echi

    I hear you but alot of black beauty products, especially black owned hair products are sold in Korean beauty supply stores. It is only as of recent that you can now find a wider variety of brands made by Black companies in Walmart and Target. I guess buying online is another option, but I find that to be an inconvenience. I loc my hair and yeah, I could go the homemade berry juice and kumbahyah route, but it’s just not for me and my busy lifestyle. When I was an undergrad, the African American Cultural Center gave students discounts for patronizing the one black owned beauty shop in our neighborhood. However, the Korean shop literally across the street had a wider variety, was cheaper, and had longer hours of operation, which for me was the deal breaker.

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