black women

The natural hair movement is slowly giving black women power in the haircare market

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Reported by Liku Zelleke

One would think that the industry built around the black woman’s hair care and products would be owned and run by black women … or men. But out of 10,000 stores that deal in hair products like relaxers, curl creams, wigs and hair weaves – products made for and bought by black women – only a few hundred are actually owned by blacks. The rest are mainly owned by Korean-Americans.

The fact dates back to the 70s and has been a bone of discontent between black consumers and the Korean-American owners as blacks see it as one ethnic group profiting from, and yet shutting out, the other.

Now, the growing trend among African-Americans going “au naturelle” is slowly tipping the balance. Fashions like leaving hair as naturally textured curls and braids is becoming ever more popular and many black female entrepreneurs are taking a bigger bite of the market share.

“We’re aware of where our dollars are going. We’re aware of the power of our dollars, we’re aware of the cultural significance of the way that we choose to wear our hair. There’s been a lot of taking back the power, and a lot of that is from the Internet,” says Patrice Grell Yursik, founder of Afrobella, a popular natural-hair blog.

The internet has indeed become a great equalizer as bloggers attend shows to test new products in the hair industry, review them and then share their experience on social media sites. There are also thousands of women that follow natural hairstyle tutorials on YouTube.

Curls and Oyin Handmade are just two of the products that have made it to shelves in retails stores after Rochelle Graham-Campbell of Alikay Naturals initially marketed them in YouTube videos.

Korean immigrants managed to dominate the business after whites that used to control the market closed shop and moved out of the business. Finding a niche that they could move into, Koreans soon took it over. It helped a lot that during the 60s wigs were among South Korea’s top exports.

As Lori Tharps, a co-author of the book “Hair Story: Untangling the Roots of Black Hair in America” says, “A lot of people think these people were taking it away from black owners, but that’s not the case. They were creating new businesses. And they were doing it in places where nobody else wanted to open a store.”

94 Comments

  1. charles wright

    September 11, 2014 at 4:06 am

    Thank God black women are finally waking up to their natural beauty, why a shame we’ve went through a half century of out and out insanity.

    Thanks God,

    Charles W. Wright

  2. R J Williams

    September 11, 2014 at 4:26 am

    Thank God for black women, they were blessed with their own style but yet they want to look & style like Europeans who enslaved them! Wow!

  3. Benjamin's Daughter

    September 11, 2014 at 6:30 am

    Black women have been putting Chinese people through college from the hair industry alone. It’s time for a change. It’s time to be natural. Let’s keep our own money in our own community to support our own children.

  4. blacjk jones

    September 11, 2014 at 8:07 am

    This news make me wanna scream with JOY!!!!

  5. Anthony allen

    September 11, 2014 at 8:27 am

    I fought my wife and daughter for three straight yrs on this subject. Now both are natural. I spent thousands on that fake hair . Now we can put that money to good use. Buy black every friday or buy nothing at all.

  6. fred sims

    September 11, 2014 at 8:28 am

    Right on sisters!

  7. Chinua dean

    September 11, 2014 at 8:43 am

    As a natural locksman I am so proud of my sisters, I love seeing the brother and sister with the fro, twists, braids, and my favorite, locs, bless my people for coming into their own.

  8. Shirl

    September 11, 2014 at 8:43 am

    Right on Right on !!!!!! Love who we are all the way to the bank !!!!!
    This is the best news i read yet on this site.
    From a Natural lady with Dred locs !!!! since 2003

  9. Vnr

    September 11, 2014 at 8:59 am

    All I have to say, It is about time.

  10. Felicia

    September 11, 2014 at 10:53 am

    This is good to know. I am so glad that Black women are waking up and embracing their natural beauty and in turn giving back to their own community for hair care and hair products. I’m proud that I supported a Black vender yesterday for my body soaps and oils. The experience of supporting a Black own business is phenomenal. “See Blacks helping Black.”

  11. Mocha

    September 11, 2014 at 10:55 am

    I’ve been natural now for 7 years. When I started my journey many black women laughed and asked why. Now some of those same black women are natural, and they love it. It’s time we embrace our natural beauty and love ourselves

  12. Barbara

    September 11, 2014 at 12:01 pm

    I never understood why some Black women wear those STINKING, smelling wet dog stringy weaves on their heads in the first place. Even more embarrassing is to see Black women with that dam Blonde hair on their head. Talk about brainwashed Slave Mammy mentality…!!!

  13. Michael D.

    September 11, 2014 at 2:20 pm

    Like Koreans can’t start selling au naturalle hair care products now, LOL! You watch…

  14. tita

    September 11, 2014 at 6:12 pm

    My hair is natural but I wear weave as well. I’m not going to stop wearing weave to please others. I went natural almost 10 years from now. I love may natural hair and I also like wearing weave. Its not a big deal but when money comes to play, yeah now everyone wants to make a big deal about it. Go figure. Money, Money, Money.

  15. Benjamin's Daughter

    September 11, 2014 at 7:09 pm

    Whether Koreans sell au natural products or not we have to support our own people.

  16. Charles White

    September 12, 2014 at 7:54 am

    We should stop supporting stores and products that doesn’t have our best interest.

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