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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  • Please Believe

    I agree! All weaves and wigs look absolutely ridiculous to me–now mater how “natural” and “real” the wearer thinks it looks. I’m like girl, what you doin with that long indian hair on your head–you black! you see Indians wearing black hair? and the difference between us and others wearing weaves is that they get hair that blends with their own natural texture–we get hair that is so fai removed from our own texture, we have to corn row our own hair and sew it or paste it in, or put on a wig to cover our whole head! I’ve never seen a white person cornrow their whole head and sew in hair–usually they’ll get extensions that blend with their hair and maybe use a clip on that easily removable. And please can we sto this “hair is just an accessory” foolishness? you might be folling while people, but you aint folling me. I’ve heard the things black people say about black hair–we have issues with our hair and it’s deep rooted and emotional.

    • Sanura Hart

      Agreed. That’s the big difference and it’s one of the reasons why I’m always scratching my head when people argue that white women wear weaves as often as black women (which is a lie lol). Like you said, non-black women are wearing hair pieces that match their texture and we’re wearing things don’t even suit our features.

    • Patience

      “I’ve never seen a white person cornrow their whole head and sew in hair”

      Could it be because their hair texture is different and doesn’t hold a braid very well?

      Likewise, once while getting my hair braided, a South Asian woman had weave sewn into hair using the cornrow method.

    • “You see Indians wearing black hair?”

      Kinky textured hair is hard to replicate. But yea, does an afrowig count?

    • Patience

      “You see Indians wearing black hair?”

      Kinky textured hair is hard to replicate, but does an afrowig count?

  • apple

    koreans or everyone else has businesses or monopoly because they have the knowledge,funds,and direct connect to their product or at least know how to get there.. black people don’t have that for some reason, so they don’t have monopoly over anything.. i once went to this african accessories store in was lovely, until i flipped over the earrings and saw they were made in taiwan..i guess its good he has a nice store, but even then there is a disconnect…idk

    • Sick

      Apple darling, everything is made in Taiwan, China and India. Go to Macy’s or any other department store and look at where the majority of those items are made. Sad, but true.

    • apple

      then i wonder how other races still can make profit and we can’t with the same products? hmm

  • Do we realize that WE are in control in this situation? Does anyone remember the bus boycotts and this little thing called a Civil Rights Movement? The hair doesn’t have to be bought and just like we let go of the creamy crack and started a natural hair revolution, we can do the same with weaves. Stop buying from them and see what happens.

    • Picabo

      It’s funny you mention the civil rights movement. I was talking about it with some friends about it the other day. We came to the conclusion that the Jewish, LGBT and feminist (re: white female) communities benefitted greatly from the movement. Us… not so much.

    • lol

      because we rely SOLELY on movements and neglect to police ouselves as a community, we neglect to educate each other, a great percentage of us neglect to hoist our own selves up. we rely far too much on other people to help us instead of us putting in the CONTINUAL work necessary.

    • jamesfrmphilly

      “Do we realize that WE are in control in this situation?”

      no we do not realize it. that is what is sad.

  • Anthony

    I would be too happy to see black women wear their natural hair, either relaxed, pressed, or natural. I also think black hair businesses should file class action lawsuits against the Korean distributors.

  • Viva Lola

    Blacks and Latinos spend BILLIONS of dollars on fake hair. If I was the Koreans I wouldn’t sell it to them either!!!! They are the BIGGEST consumers… HELLO!! Why would anyone let the consumer be their competition!!!! ummmm, NO. Not a good business move.

    • Blatina

      Let’s be real, you’re average Latina is not wearing fake hair, esp. since plenty of Latinas are supplying the hair themselves! (Brazilian wavy, Dominica wave, Latina body wave, etc., ring a bell? Google ’em…)