Why Do We Support Non-Black Beauty Businesses?

Why Do We Support Non-Black Beauty Businesses?If you are a Black woman that was raised in an urban city in America then more than likely, your neighborhood staples resembled something like this: fast food restaurant, liquor store, church, hair salon and beauty supply store.   I grew up on Chicago’s West Side and that description summarizes the crux of the locations that embodied urban life for me.

Much like many of you reading this, I have spent at least 3/4 of my life either sitting in someone’s salon chair, or preparing to sit in someone’s salon chair by visiting my local beauty supply shop in order to purchase whatever concoctions and assortment of supplies that were necessary to either aide my stylist in her styling my hair or for my own everyday styling.

The one thing that always left me curious is why are so many Black hair product carrying stores owned and operated by people other than African Americans?    By “people other than African Americans” I am mostly referring to people of Asian descent.   In fact, to this day I cannot think of where I’ve ever seen one owned and operated by Blacks.

Something in that never sat right with me for a number of reasons.   One was I always felt as though I was under surveillance as I shopped.   Whatever the reason, it isn’t a nice feeling walking through the store with a pair of eyes on you in every aisle.   It encompasses a feeling of being attacked with a double edged sword:   They need my patronage but not me.  Thus the pondering of why we continue to support non-Black beauty businesses.

If not the incessant stalking, then it’s the attempt to earn their “Black Card” (which is an awkward enough zone for the both of us) by speaking to me as though I can only understand African American colloquiums and slang.  This, as you can imagine is equally undesirable but what is even more uncomfortable for me is that when the day is over, these shop owners do not lock their shop and walk down the street to their home.   Instead they get in their car and drive to their pretty house in the suburbs or on the other side of town.   Far, far away from the Black neighborhood and the Black customers that pour money into their pockets and subsequently supports their family.

Why Do We Support Non-Black Businesses?Well, why do you still go there?   You may be asking this now.   To be honest, for years, they were my only resource and probably yours too.   It is only as of recent that the black hair industry has exploded where anyone can order their hair supplies online directly from their supplier and not have to face any feelings of impending racism.

Still, even today there are many products that we unfortunately don’t have the resources to order online and have to purchase from a brick and mortar beauty supply.   This has always led me to ponder why more African Americans from within these urban neighborhoods aren’t operating beauty supplies in the neighborhoods that they live in.   The Black Wall Street happened before and it can happen (even more successfully) again now.   We all know the story, so why hasn’t it happened yet all across America?

One of the main reasons is that a lot of African Americans are complacent and don’t have the desire to do what is necessary to own a beauty supply shop. Sure, we may like styling hair, going to the hair shows and seeing the newest styles.   We may even successfully create hair products intended especially for us but we have become comfortable with the idea of the Asians having the beauty supply store game on lock.

Now, I am in no way, encouraging you to abandon your local beauty supply.   After all, some of you may have been patronizing them for years and may have even bonded with the owners now.   They may know you by first name and smile every time they see you.   I’m sure they smile even harder when you are opening your wallet.   However, I want there to be a concise understanding that you have options.   No one is forcing you to support anyone that does not fully support you, appreciate your dollars, and or makes you feel like you pose a threat every time you enter their premises.

If you are like me, and are exhausted with the feelings of forced friendliness, then perhaps it is time to do a Google search for your favorite Black hair products online.   Or, you might disagree.  In either case, this is an issue we need an open dialog on so speak on it.

Author: LaJuanda

LJ Knight is a featured writer for BlackHairMedia.com and a freelance journalist on her site YeahSheSaidIt.com. She currently resides in Los Angeles but is originally from Chicago. She is dubbed “the voice of the urban sophisticated woman.”

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32 Comments

  1. Just one more thing, …If we want to support our production in business find out who owns these hair care businesses online and in shops. I have come to notice that non black businesses like to hide behind black sounding names ie: Hairsisters / Clairhair and such. Just to draw us in. My black ladies, do your research! They will never use a name like Shang Dong’s hair or Lee and Chi’s wigs, but you’ll see a Wong’s kitchen,though. See what I mean? Don’t fall for a cheap trick and let them exploit us like that for financial gain. As I said in my last post, No one knows our hair needs better than we do. We should be our own biggest suppliers

    Eternal peace and love to my beautiful sisters.

    Niecy

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  2. I can see what you mean. This is not just our problem, but an American problem. We outsource work that we are fully capable of doing for ourselves. Look at the latest iphones, computers, and tablets for an example, It’s the same problem. We don’t believe in our own products, so we get the Chinese to build it, even with the child slavery practices still underway til this very day. Our hair care needs should be our very own problem that we can handle, yet we are doing it again. We leave that up to the Chinese to solve that, too. They own 90% of this nation’s debt. Every time we pay them,(with no gold to back up that dollar) It’s an I.O.U. Read that underside label of most of our products. Made in China, right? They, and Korean’s know of our hair troubles and have found a gold mine in it! They know that we can’t supply what we need to sell in this industry. How many black girls and women do we know with long flowing locks of hair to donate??… My point exactly. We have to get that much more crafty and cleaver in this business then they are. No one knows our needs better than we do, but we fail to supply because we don’t grow enough long hair as they do. They own this arena for that very reason and don’t want to sell to non Asian or non middle eastern business owners. They’d rather exploit our hair weaknesses for financial gain. I say we simply stop buying their products until they decide to sell to black business equally. After all, it’s our hair needs, not theirs, that’s fair,right? Some of us may have to go without their wigs for a while to make a point. Boycott them! What are they going to do with all of those wigs and weave tracks if we all decide to go natural?? That production line would come to a screeching holt!,..I’d loooooove to see that day come.

    Eternal peace and love to my beautiful sisters.

    Niecy ♥

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  3. This was a good article. I grow up in a household that shopped in mostly black businesses.My father was self-employed and he believed in trading with other black businesses. As a hairstylist I did the same thing. I traded with a black own beauty supply for 15 years. I moved to another city a few years ago and I didn’t seek out a black own supply store, I got use to the closest store. Since I read this I will seek out a black own beauty supply store and other businesses.

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  4. you ever eat at el pollo loco? lol

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  5. Wellllllll…….I ALWAYS asked myself why are so many BBS stores owned by non-blacks? And why do they think hiring blacks who KNOW the products but not the business makes them less or more racist? ANYWAY I stopped asking why and starting asking how, I did my research and I was (kinda still am) going to open my own beauty supply….
    1. I speak the language
    2. I use the products
    3. I know how it feels…
    It shouldn’t be THAT hard to open and run a business right? Invest several thousands and boom I’m open! NOPE!! It’s a game honestly..Asian based suppliers won’t sell to non-Asians, and Middle-Easterners not won’t to non-middle-eastern either. So, How do I get the “hair lords” to sell me their products so I can be a stand alone vendor…Either I have to get a Asian or Middle-Eastern business partner or lie and change my last name…

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    • I know just what you are saying. About that. But guess what? they lie to us all of the time when they name their company Hair Sisters and Clair Hair,ect. They exploit our names, our needs and our likeness for their financial gain. My nine year old made a comment that made me laugh, he said something so simple. He said, ” Chinese food done right, the American Way” That was funny, yet so profound. He was joking and was looking to see if I got it. I did.Even a child can see how easy it is to take what belongs to someone and use it to the advantage of the user. We let them exploit us. We need Hair Lords! as you said. We need people that will go the extra mile, be the actual suppliers. There aren’t too many black girls with long locks to donate, and that might be our downfall in this arena. They are born with and readily have what we struggle to produce. We practically have to buy the hair off of their heads. Why would they want to give us the leg up on the competition?? We can play hardball with them though and not buy their products, I bet at that point they will then get desperate for money and start selling those supplies to non Asian,and non Middle Eastern business owners. Find their weak spot. They’ll crack. lol, I loved what you had to say! :-) I wish you the greatest success in your business ventures! If you get that shop up and running, you’ll have to let me know, I completely support our success as a people. We need to build our own economy and get our people and outsiders to support it.

      Niecy ♥

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  6. Anyone that read this article and became angry does have a lot of growing to do. Let’s pull back and look at buying power overall not just beauty supply. Blacks are a minority but when it comes to trillions spent per year we have huge buying power. It’s stating a fact that the majority of businesses who reap the benefits are not owned by minorities. As African Americans we probably do the worst job of all minorities when it comes to building a self sufficient community where businesses supplying all we need are run by us. (think Asian, Hispanic, African, Indian, Polish, etc – as soon as they move in they “rebrand” their area). So this is an issue of us not working together as a race to leverage the power of our cash flow. Until we do that we’ll always have the same issues popping up (like tommy hilfigure, crystal, or Korean owned beauty supply stores) because we depend on others to supply what we need.

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  7. I used to hit the Asian BSS and think nothing of it. But then I started wondering why these people were in our neighborhoods. A few years ago, there was a YouTube documentary about the Asian BSS business and how they block potential Black BSS entrepreneurs from getting in the business. Watching that documentary sealed the deal for me. I will NEVER EVER step foot in an Asian BSS again. Hell no!! I’ve been ordering my raw hair products to mix my own natural hair goods from a Black BSS that’s a couple a states away from me. I think it would be even better if I google to see if there are still any Black BBS left in my area.

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  8. In the past, we were all we needed and all we looked to support in regards to supporting the next black business. Those days are in the past because not only are we equal to the next business owned by another race, we’re even more linked in on the do’s and don’t’ you dare do’s of owning a legit business as a minority. Unlike the past, a business will only thrive if the service, quality, product and even atttitudes of the workers are worth visiting that business or supporting that business once again. Don’t get me wrong…I agreee with the article! Yes, support yo

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  9. Also, I respect you being bold enough to express a feeling like that. Not all blk ppl will do it.

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    • If you enjoyed her writing, you should check out her other articles, they all have a similar pattern of undertone you’d rhyme well with. Pft.

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  10. I agree. It’s very uncomfortable when they watch blks like that though. I ain’t eva stole, but they make you wanna steal something. It’s all about the money. They want them dollars, will throw on a fake smile or laugh, and be happy you ain’t steal nothing and that you’re not in the store anymore. That’s exactly true, but they only do it because blks allow them to do it. It’s messed up that they do it, but that’s how the business game work. Whatever happened to boycotts? You have to understand that lots of blks don’t have enough capital to buy land and build stores. That’s the advantage that they have on our ppl. At least for the moment. We have not become comfortable with them having the stores. Not all blk people feel that way. Anybody in they right mind who work hard for the money and understand the value of a dollar, would be smart enough to go elsewhere when being mistreated. Its a business and they need us, the customers in order to function. I personally don’t wear weave, but for things like shampoo and conditioner, yeah, I would spend money at the blk companies because it’s uncomfortable being watched, and not seeing some of those dollars come back to the community in order to build playgrounds. Enough is enough.
    It depends on the person.

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    • OMG you sound so ignorant, stuck back in the 60s, full of bitterness and resentment. Open your eyes, we are doing extremely well in this country, our president is black, we dominate the entertainment media market, we are on the forefront of all fashion market, in the medical field, and the athletic sports, ahem Gabrielle, nba, nfl, etc., in schools, in small businesses, etc. Just because YOU are stuck in a rut doesn’t mean the rest of the Black America is. There are PLENTY of white folks, asian folks, hispanic folks on welfare and on the down but they don’t shift blame to other ethnicity for the cause. If folks around you don’t have enough capital to start up their own business, is that a fair reason to hate on other people who does? What nonsense is this hypocritical bigotry?! Stop hating, get inspired, and love all people the same the SAME WAY you want to be treated. ‘They’ haven’t done anything wrong in my opinion except work hard in a country they don’t know the language of. If you don’t wear weave or wig, then dont! Do it in the name of preference, not boycotting. Seriously. I’ll keep on buying well made products, at personal convenience, and appreciate my neighbors, and do my tithing and community service in my area. Freaken talkin about nonsense….smh.

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      • I’m really confused at where all YOUR anger comes from(?) You say Realbeauty sounds ignorant, full of resentment and bitterness but it is YOUR post that sounds like that. I think you may be the one that needs to open their eyes. You cite us having a black President, “dominate the entertainment media market, we are on the forefront of all fashion market, in the medical field, and the athletic sports, ahem Gabrielle, nba, nfl, etc., in schools, in small businesses, etc” I have to ask myself, what Country are YOU living in? The poster said nothing, IMHO, that wasn’t true. There IS that feeling of being watched when you frequent thier stores, they will do it only if WE allow it, we do have the right to boycott their stores, they DO need us as customers…what part in her post sounds resentful? What gives you the idea she’s stuck in a rut? There is also the issue of the dollars being made in the black neighborhoods but not going back into it, is that false? Where is she shifting blame and why bring up other ethnicities? You really went into left field. smh

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        • I really need to apologize about some of what I wrote in my post. I wanted to delete it after I scrolled down and read more of Realbeauty’s posts. I had only read the most recent one and was really confused as to why you came down so hard on her. After reading more of her post I can honestly say, I see why! Again, my apologies!! Take care!

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      • Excuse me, but you are the one that sounds ignorant. Just because we have a black President does not mean that we are doing well. I don’t know where you came from but you cannot be black. Unemployment for blacks is now almost 40 percent and you say we are thriving. The writer is correct. Our hair care products us owned by Korea, China and other one else besides blacks. Do they put back in our communities? Do they live amongst us? Or do they carry products that’s made by blacks? The answer is NO!

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  11. Maybe for the following reasons:

    It’s the only place locally.
    The brand is well built.
    Partnerships. Some products might not be available at the blk company.
    They have more money to market on the television.
    It’s more convenient.
    Mainly because fills a big void. Blk women & gay guys need to stop wearing weave anyway.

    It does not matter because I would drop a non-blk business any day to support my people.

    What!!!!!

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  12. Really? This article is complete BS. Who cares where or who you purchase your supplies from? Just give me my stuff so I can go on about my business! People always find something to complain about!

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    • You ask who cares? Maybe you don’t care about your own but I do. Let me clue you in on something. Have you ever been to a white beauty supply store and see any their stores owned by Koreans or Chinese? Whites own their own stores, trust me I have checked. In addition, if you frequent the better areas of any city, rarely do you see any of these people from other countries owning anything. Now look in places that Blacks frequent. Can you see the difference? They own all of our neighborhoods, but do nothing to help.
      In fact Blacks are the ones that are keeping the other ethnic groups quiet. We are taking care of them by patronizing their stores. Even the media could not make money unless they are displaying blacks as the worst scum of the earth. Jails owned by whites are making a killing. They have started their own communities around the jails. They could not live out there if if were not for Blacks. We are taking care if everyone but ourselves.

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  13. I have been to a lot of Black owned hair stores, but I also do not feel its okay to be mad at Asians for making money. We shop at their stores because they are in our neighborhoods. They are near by and often have cheap prices. I’m not really into this us vs. them mentality. I shop at Black owned and Asian owned beauty supply stores and it works out fine.

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    • It’s not being mad, but more about being loyal to your community and support your people. Did you know that those same Asians don’t invest that money back into the blk community? Meaning, they buy land in our neighborhood, tk blk people money, and send elsewhere. Where do you get the us. vs. them mentality from? Until you go into business as a blk owner, you will never understand where the person is coming from who wrote the article. It’s all about supporting our ppl and helping our ppl.

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  14. I’ve worked in a beauty supply store for several years, and while I can’t speak for every beauty supply stores, I can tell you about my experiences. I can’t knock them on their work ethics. Truth be told, they are usually working 7 days a week, 12 hours a day or more. No one is stopping any one of us from also making that kind of commitment and dedication, but what we often end up doing is just complaining and blaming on the racism factor. And you want the brutal honesty? In my years of working at a beauty supply store in Chicago, the number of thefts I’ve witnessed to is astounding and shameful. Maybe you don’t steal. But many many many (times 100) others do. Not only do the steal, they rob also. So from a standpoint of a business owner, they do what they can to learn from their experiences in thefts and try to protect their business. And seriously, yeah we definitely do not have to deal with face to face awkwardness when we buy online. But the people behind that online shop are asians anyway. And I don’t think that it’s fair or right to hate or feel resentment towards them for it, and whine that it’s not fair. If they put in the work and investment to meet the demand and supply us what we need, and thus profit from it, isn’t that what capitalism is? The whole ideology of ‘it’s not fair that they are making profit out of my patronage’ is to me, quite frankly, embarrassing and what I consider to be naive. We aren’t communists, such mindset isn’t even American. And such mindset, is a racism on our part. Let’s be honest and real. Nothing in life will be given to us because we demand it or whine or complain about it. There is no such thing as ‘deserving’ out of what you and i may think is ‘fair’. that is not the real world, and the faster we stop this train of thought of ‘them’ helping ‘us’ out, the faster we can grow. Most of them are immigrants, that WHY they have small businesses because of the language barrier. WE aren’t small business owners, mostly because we PREFER and have the ABILITY to work in corporate America. We become doctors, lawyers, judges, teachers, nurses and have a lifestyle that’s Mon-Fri, 9-6 jobs. What’s there to complain about?

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    • A bunch of bs. They don’t do whatever to protect their business. They do it because the media portrays blks in a terrible way and every time one of our ppl enter their store, they watch them, unlike a white person. With a blk person, they watch them around the store, with a non-blk person, they assist them in the store. There is a thief in every race so let’s not do that stereotype. True they supply a demand, but what will you say once blk people catch on and start going into that field? Then what? It’s actually not racism. Racism is to judge someone because of their race, while the author simply expressed a concern in reference to profit and less of race. Based on your sentence. They have small businesses because most of them come to the US with little to no money, qualify for a business loan at a small amount and that’s all that they can afford. It’s not because of a language barrier. If that was the case then wouldn’t they be in a Asian community where the language would be more understood? Blk’s aren’t small business owners because most of them don’t have good enough credit or collateral to start a small business. Also, corporate american don’t hire to many real blk people. More like sell outs and other self hating fake fools. In other words, they don’t hire a real blk person to relate to and target the blk market, but someone to sell they soul and kiss as$ to be apart of their organization. Maybe they are “complaining” because of customer service, and them not putting some of those same dollars back into our community.
      Be for real.

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      • YOU need to be real. If you want to change America, change the way YOU portray yourself as a representative of Black America. You want to see good image of Black Americans? Check out Barak, Michelle, Oprah, Martin Luther King Jr., Condoleezza Rice, Colin Powell, and thousands more. You want the ‘negative image’ of Black folks to stop? Voice your opinion to Nicki Minaj, 50 cent, Bobby brown, and bunch of other thug wannabees dressed half naked to act appropriately and give back to the community. Do our black celebrities with all their might and prosperity give back to our community? CHANGE starts at home, with us. If our own successful people won’t give back to our own community, why and HOW could you expect other folks to give back to another ethnicity’s community? I certainly am 100% positively sure and glad that YOU give so very much to the black community in your area, and you should encourage others to do so as well. But all this is besides the point, the argument is like saying: Since ‘Black Americans’ are the majority consumers of black foundations and make up, but they are sold at White American retailers such as CVS/Macys/BSS, we should all expect them to give thanks and invest in neighborhood community projects all over America, since we live everywhere. WHAT?! does that even make any sense? I didn’t think so.

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      • This is true.. Im from England and all the beauty supply stores that i use to frequent are owned by asians. They would be forever watching me around their stores, which made me really uncomfortable. On occasion i would have to tell them about themselves, but still they kept on watching me as if i were a thief. The majority of them do not respect us, they just tolerate us to get our money.. What we need to do is support our own black owned businesses and stop buying from non-blacks.. I finally decided to start selling my own hair and beauty products and will never step foot into another non-black beauty supply store again

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    • You know Crystal, you have some growing to do. I believe what the writer is trying to say is we should own a few if those stores. Have you ever tried to get supplies from China or Korea? Even India that sells must if the hair. I know you have not because your Rodney King” lets all get along thing” would not be there. The other countries will sell nothing to Blacks if its anything to do with beauty supply. The black beauty supply is a 9 billion dollar business and they want it all. Do some research before you run off about that one store you worked in. I can count on one hand the times I have seen blacks working in their stores. We can’t even work for them except as security guards. Yes we steal, but wait until you work at Sally’s before you down us. Whites steal just as much.

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  15. As an African American woman myself I’ve always wondered why there were a lot of Asian people running the shop and not more black people, but I think you could of discussed this matter in a better tone honestly. The way you had talked about them sounded very spiteful towards them, when you should just be stating facts and your ideas. It would of been a much more enjoyable article to read if it hadn’t sounded so accusatory, but that’s just my opinion Miss.

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  16. We are a black-owned hair business that is fighting Korean and Chinese businesses to earn the respect of our own people. It is often difficult for black beauty businesses to earn the customer’s trust, but we are confident that, over time, we can take over this industry and provide great products at great prices, and have the proceeds benefit our communities.

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    • Congrats on starting your own business.Trust, it’s not that hard to win. It’s more about certain things. Maybe this will help. To earn the trust of our ppl, dnt make them feel uncomfortable when they enter the store, know your competitors prices etc. I’m full of ideas, but wouldn’t want them to get in the wrong hands. Lol. You should have put your website, email or something for ideas. I don’t mind helping anyone, but mainly my ppl. Of course, if you get God involved and put God first, anything is possible. Walk by faith and be confident at what you do.
      Example: Walmart may have a price of 99 cents instead of the full dollar to play a mind game and make you feel better about at least saving something even if it’s a penny etc. It’s your community, get out there and network. You have to work hard when in business and I believe you would know that as a business owner.
      GL :).

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  17. There are black owned beauty supply stores in the U.S. and they want your business! Please search the web to find them AND other black owned businesses that manufacture products for YOUR hair. The competition is tough for “our” products and your support is needed.

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