If you drive around in a major city you’re bound to come across a beauty supply store. Now, this doesn’t include Sally’s Beauty Supply stores, rather beauty supply stores that aren’t franchised. A majority of these beauty supply stores are owned by Asians. However, the consumers of most of these beauty supply stores don’t come from Asian communities, instead they’re mostly African-American. This raises the question that many have asked for years, why aren’t there many black-owned beauty supply stores if most of the consumers are African-American?
To get to the root of this issue we have to unravel a few factors of why Asians controlled black hair: location, generational wealth and access to cheap imports. Many urban areas are plastered with beauty supply stores because the consumers live in those areas. Now, there are some beauty supply stores that aren’t in urban areas, but are still owned by Asians. One in particular is NAO Beauty Supply store in Plano, Texas off Coit Road (This beauty supply store is beyond discriminatory). Despite African-American women spending more than $54 million in ethnic hair care and beauty products in 2017 alone according to a 2018 Nielsen study, beauty supply stores are part of a multi-billion dollar industry that has historically locked African-Americans completely out for decades. When we don’t control where we spend our money, we leave ourselves open to be treated any kind of way! We need more black-owned beauty supply stores.
Access to cheap imports have given Asians a leg up on black ownership in the hair industry. Since the 1970s Korea has been the epicenter of hair imports and exports. That fact ultimately led to Korean immigrants becoming beauty supply owners and distributors. Many of these immigrants would put their money together to create wealth amongst families to purchase property. For them, it’s easier to keep everything in the family.
To date, The Black Owned Beauty Supply Association has helped open 450 Black-owned beauty supply stores across the country. African-Americans are slowly, but surely beginning to buy back the ownership of beauty supply stores. Second and third generations of Asians no longer want to be part of the family business as they’d rather pursue other professions. As Korean Americans abandon the business, they are happy to sell to Black entrepreneurs.
In addition, as the natural hair business grows, distributors that wouldn’t sell to Black entrepreneurs in the past lose leverage. Black entrepreneurs are buying stores, creating the products we need and taking back the business. Black beauty supply stores are increasing in number across the country. Today there are around 3,000 Black owned beauty supply stores. One of our favorite black-owned beauty supply stores is BPolished Beauty Supply store located in Arlington, Texas.