Where are the Black Hair-Shop Owners?

afro-hair shops UK

Typical Afro Hair Shop

Did you know that the Hair Care industry is a multi-billion dollar industry? Did you know that black people- mainly women, spend a staggering four-times more money on hair products than their white counterparts?

It is almost unfathomable that we spend so much money on our hair. So what does that mean about black people? Is taking care of our hair so important to us? Does it determine how we feel and how others perceive us? Does having the ‘right type of hair or hairstyle’ determine if we get a certain job or not, or if we get called for that interview? Does it determine what friends we make? Does it determine which people may be attracted to us? Or is it do we not feel proud out our natural hair? Do we not know how to manage our natural hair anymore?

There must be something about black women and the relationship with our hair that is so different to other races. It probably could be that we think if our hair is not long or silky like other races, it is classed as not having ‘good hair’. Not having ‘good hair’ means we have to cover or remove the ‘bad hair’ with other products such as relaxers ,texturizers, hair extensions, weaves or wigs. It is a shame that some of us may feel that about ourselves. It may not be conscious, but it is something we grow up with as youngsters and is the image that surrounds us in films, on television and on the street.

Now the biggest question to now ask is: “Where are all the hair shops run by black owners?” Now this may sound silly, but if you travel to any hair shop in London or any of the other UK cities such as Manchester or Birmingham, I seldom see a black owner.

Why is the disparity so large? If black women spend so much on their hair- why do black people not own hair shops?

Im sure this question has been raised before, but it still baffles me and makes me question it every single time I need to buy new hair products.

There are a few black-owned hair shops, but they do not often have the largest selection and some of their products cost more. These shops are often located down some alley somewhere that no-one would have even noticed existed. Often in a few months or years, then they close down as they do not get the business which will allow them to sustain themselves.

So Asian people in the UK definitely run the market. How does that work? I think Asians are great business people and that’s what makes them successful. So why the black hair market? Why can’t black people be equally as successful? If a black hair shop was on your road, would you go in? Would you buy from it? Or would you go where it is cheaper, which may be another shop owned by someone else?

When I’ve spoken to black hair shop owners, they tell me that the problem they have is that the suppliers of the products often sell to them at higher prices, hence why their products would be sold on to the customer at a higher cost as a result.  And it is no surprise that the Asian afro-hair shops have been established for years and one individual can own several shops on one street. They will be buying in a massive bulk and have good connections with suppliers, so no wonder that they will pass on the lower rate to you, the customer. And who wouldn’t want cheaper products?

So it is a difficult situation, but the change has to start somewhere. I have visions one day of entering a hair shop owned by black women or men who I can personally identify with and they may be able to advise me or assist me on what product I may want for my hair.

Overall black people need to do more and focus on good customer service as it is what will get customers in and keep them returning. Never underestimate the power of ‘word-of-mouth’ as it goes a long way.

Maybe you have thought about an online business? You may want to sell products that way. This way you reduce your overheads, but can still sell products.

I see a massive opportunity in this industry, but there a lot of barricades and bolts to breakdown in order to get through the door. But Rome wasn’t built in a day and Obama didn’t just waltz into the White House.

Maybe if you’re reading this article, you could be first one to make a start.


3 responses to “Where are the Black Hair-Shop Owners?

  1. Hi
    This is so so true and I have a friend that tried looked into setting up her own business but found the costs too high.

    In my town there are a few black hair shops but after using them I’m back to the Asian shops. It has nothing to do with prices but the lack of customer service and attitude in the black hair shops. It’s such a pity because for me I was so happy to shop in a black shop where someone might be able to actually understand something about Afro hair. I’ve tried 2 shops in my town on several occasions and I won’t shop in them again. I must say that this extends to a food establishment also.

    Come on all you African descendants, get your act together and make our towns the multicultural places they should be in 2012.

    • Thankyou Debbiedo! But don’t even get me started about food shops! It is embarrassing. Many are unwelcoming and are inpatient and act like you are irritating them when they are meant to be giving you a service! It just doesn’t make sense. How are black people, let alone other cultures meant to take Black Business seriously if they can’t provide good quality if not outstanding service to keep customers coming back. If customers keep coming back, then they would make more money- it is a non-brainer. Something is definitely wrong. Is it a problem with older generations? Is it different if it a Black British owner?

  2. I think that one of the things that our black people can do is to start trusting each other. When we do that, then we can perhaps put out monies together, form cooperatives and go to Brazil, Korea, etc and by directly from the wholesalers

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