Natural Hair Gains Profit! America’s first black female millionaire — and the first woman of any race to become a self-made millionaire — built an empire from nearly nothing in one of the most spectacular rags-to-riches stories in U.S. history legacy has now been bethron by the Koreans.

The woman is Madam CJ Walker, who developed a scalp disorder which caused her to lose much of her hair. Due to her hair lostage she created and developed a haircare product which revolutionized the black hair care industry.

The combination of scalp preparation, application of lotions, and use of iron combs became known as the “Walker system.” She distinguished her products from the hair straighteners advocated by white cosmetic firms, arguing that her treatment was geared to the special health needs of blacks.

She sold her homemade products directly to black women, using a personal approach that won her customers and eventually a fleet of loyal saleswomen.

So the question Gorjez  wants to know is, how can people of color regain dominance within the hair care industry?

Black Girls Divine Beauty Supply and Salon

I’m glad you ask!  First and foremost there must be an awaken of the “African American Zombie State of Mind” and a rebirth of a collective unity, resilience attitude, discipline character, consistence and persistence, risk-taking, fearlessness and assertive behavior.

Just like the two sisters from Brooklyn, Judian and Kadeian Brown who started their very own black hair care store called Black Girls Divine Beauty Supply and Salon in 2014.


According to the New York Times [2014] the Brown sisters’ is one small shop in a multibillion-dollar industry, centered on something that is both a point of pride and a political flashpoint for black women: their hair. But the Browns are among only a few hundred black owners of the roughly 10,000 stores that sell hair products like relaxers, curl creams, wigs and hair weaves to black women, not just in New York but across the country. The vast majority have Korean-American owners, a phenomenon dating back to the 1970s that has stoked tensions between black consumers and Korean businesspeople over what some black people see as one ethnic group profiting from, yet shutting out, another.

related story: Are Asians Pimping Black America?

Although since the published article by NY Times in 2014, the sister closed their doors.

According to Devin Robinson, an economics professor and author of “How to Become a Successful Beauty Supply Store Owner” states,  “The problem is with the distributors.”

The distributors are mainly Non-Blacks and they handpick who they will distribute products to. This oftentimes leaves aspiring black owners disenfranchised.”

There are only four central distributors serving beauty supply stores in the country and these Korean owned distributors discriminate against Black store owners in order to maintain their monopoly in the market.

Lucky White, the owner of Kizure Ironworks (which specializes in making styling tools like curling irons), states:  “distributors told her that her products were no longer in demand as an excuse to turn away her products in favor of knock-offs produced by Asian companies.”

The Good News 

A growing awareness of this imbalance has spurred more black people to hang out their own shingles. The people producing the products have changed, too: As “going natural” — abandoning artificially smoothed hair in favor of naturally textured curls and braids — has become more popular and the Internet has expanded, black entrepreneurs, most of them women, are claiming a bigger share of the shelves in women’s medicine cabinets.

“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,” said Patrice Grell Yursik, the founder of Afrobella, a popular natural-hair blog. “There’s been a lot of taking back the power, and a lot of that is from the Internet.”

More and more, African-American women are leaving behind chemicals used to straighten hair and accepting their natural curls. As a result, the shift to Afro, locks and other natural hairstyles has now opened up a target market.

The Black hair care landscape has changed significantly since 2006, with the emergence of the “natural hair movement” (which has contributed to a 26% decline in relaxer sales). Black women choosing to rock their hair unprocessed has birthed an entirely new industry.

Which tells Gorjez magazine that women of color  have the power, for real. They are not just talking about new products that your strands have inspired creation for, but also new jobs, machines, technologies and infrastructures.

These major hair companies have had to switch gears entirely to accommodate what you think is cool!  However keep in mind, there’s no sign that our influencer status in the hair game is actually helping us.

This is really a unique window of time you can’t afford to lose. It’s critical that Black female (and male) entrepreneurs approach the hair care industry opportunities from a macro perspective.

Creating products is great. In fact, Ultra Distributors reports that major natural hair brands have seen a revenue increase of over 1,400% between 2009 and 2013, corresponding to an estimated $150 million in revenue. But my hope is that Black entrepreneurs can get into the business of supply chain management as well.

What about Capital?

Last year, the Small Business Association published a report entitled “Access to Capital Among Young Firms, Minority-Owned Firms, Women-Owned Firms and High-tech Firms.” Unsurprisingly, it revealed that African-American and Latino firms operate with “substantially less capital overall—both at startup and in subsequent years—relative to their non minority counterparts.”

From Instagram to Facebook to Twitter, many of us have the access we didn’t have just some years ago to find businesses and startups we want to support. With social media platforms at our fingertips, we can create the habit of sourcing out the best of Blacks in beauty, hair, and even the nail artistry business, and start supporting them, one by one.

At the end of the day my Gorjez Friends, there is $7.5 billion dollars in Black beauty spending up for grabs… Will you get yours?

Think Different | Think Gorjez!

Source: Ebony and NY Times



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