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Are Koreans Intentionally Keeping Blacks Out of the Hair Weave Industry?

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Are Koreans blocking out African-Americans from the hair weave industry?

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Hair weave is one of the most profitable businesses in the world. According to Devin Robinson, owner of Atlanta’s Beauty Supply Institute, approximately 9,800 beauty supply business existed nationwide; but only a little more than 300 were black-owned. Robinson attributes the lack of African-American business owners in the industry to the cost mark-ups enforced by Koreans.

The Koreans strategically make it harder for us to get into the business. They have the supplies the customers want,” Robinson said. “They sell it to us at higher prices or they deliver the products late to the black-owned stores. Sometimes they don’t allow orders from us at all.”

According to CascadePatch, the Korean-American community has dominated the black beauty supply market for almost 50 years by opening large stores, buying out smaller black-owned ones and using the faces of black celebrities on their products and black employees in their stores to grow their businesses in the black community. Lucien Poko, general manager for Beauty Masters, one of the larger Korean-owned beauty supply stores with seven locations in Atlanta, said 90 to 95 percent of the stores’ customers are black; and so are the store’s employees. Poko doesn’t believe there is an intentional effort on behalf of the Korean community to keep Blacks out of the industry. “It’s just business,” Poko, who is from Senegal, said. “Everybody is free to open what they want to open. It’s the way you handle your business. Koreans dominating the business, this doesn’t make sense. You can open up your business. You are free to do what you want.”

Do you believe African-Americans should only seek to shop at African-American owned beauty supply stores? Why or why not?