*Note: This is a piece I wrote for MadameNoire.com.
It’s been a few years and the natural hair movement is still going strong. With more and more women embarking on ‘hair journeys,’ there have also been an increase in the number of products formulated specifically for a variety of natural hair textures. Last fall, Nielsen published a report that noted the buying power of blacks topped $1 trillion and that we are nine times more likely to purchase hair care and beauty products. Year after year, the Essence Smart Beauty report confirms the growing influence of the black dollar in the beauty industry.
In addition to supporting the community, reclaiming our dollars in an industry where black women have tremendous and impactful buying power is important, according to Dr. Paula Chrishon who owns the Tendrils and Curls™ boutique in Houston, TX and an E-commerce extension of the brick and mortar store. The hair care and beauty industry along with the increase in E-commerce gives many women the chance to move from simply daydreaming about entrepreneurship to becoming kitchen chemists, running small businesses, to transitioning into CEOs. “Time and time again, these products are developed in the kitchens of black women who are making every effort to remedy an issue they are experiencing with their own hair,” says Chrishon.
Krika Bradsher, owner of the Sophia Sunflower Salon in Raleigh, North Carolina, and the accompanying product line, My Honey Child, splits her time between handling the product manufacturing, packing and shipping while working at her salon full time.
“I realized that I needed something to complete the business. I was using many products but none were giving me the results that I felt my clients deserved. Many products claimed to moisturize but they only gave my clients dry hair because they were loaded with fillers and alcohols. I then decided to do research and begin mixing, and it went from there,” she says.
Chrishon and Bradsher represent the growing number of black women who own hair care product lines that are emerging with support and success. Professional associations like the Black Owned Beauty Supply Association (B.O.B.S.A.) and Black Wall Street, International are putting support behind hair care product lines manufactured by black owners. B.O.B.S.A., for instance, plans to install hair care product vending machines in barbershops and beauty salons with most of the products available being produced by black-owned businesses. Black Wall Street, International helps young entrepreneurs enter the hair care industry as product manufacturers.
In supporting black-owned businesses, it’s still important to use the same common sense for trying any new product: do the research and look for professional labels like UPC codes. This is key for products that claim to be 100 percent natural, as there may be no chemicals to provide long shelf life. “The natural hair phenomenon is great because it’s a change in the industry. New entrepreneurs are entering the marketplace and a lot of these products are made by hand,” says Sam Ennon, president of B.O.B.S.A. “The downside is that they are made in the kitchen by someone with no chemical background. There’s no shelf life and these products are sold directly to the consumer.”
Considering the strength and equity of the brand is important when buying products from any company. “I knew that My Honey Child had brand equity in 2004, because I was receiving so many calls from hair salons and online retailers who wanted to carry the product. Orders were coming in from all over the world and people wanted to find out ‘Who was My Honey Child?’” says Bradsher.
Chrishon experienced a similar situation when Tendrils and Curls™ became a recognizable brand name. Shw says, “The first inclination of this came about when more and more male customers who were in Houston on business from places like Holland, Sweden, Japan and Brazil began to visit the boutique holding long lists of hair products to purchase for their wives who had identified us online.”
Though some brands get their start in the kitchen, many gain a loyal following that allow the owners to seek out chemists and manufacturing plants that can offer the proper mix of ingredients helping the products provide the most benefit to the consumer and the business owner in the long run. “Get with an association. An association like B.O.B.S.A. has all the things [new entrepreneurs] need help with,” advises Ennon.
Simply put, there is a way to support these black-owned businesses in the hair care industry and that way is buying. With the economic power associated with black buyers, to support black businesses is the best way to circulate dollars back into our communities. The authenticity of these products means buyers connect with the brands on a deeper level than with bigger, well-known brands.
Knowing this, black women should patronize black woman-owned hair care product lines and black-owned beauty supply stores. It seems convenient to shop large, national department stores or mega-sized beauty supply stores, but choosing to ‘buy black’ has benefits when it comes to beauty products.
“You feel confident in knowing that these products have been crafted specifically to meet the unique needs of those with naturally textured hair,” says Chrishon. “Much like the hair of the creators of these brands.”
– This article originally appeared at: http://madamenoire.com/429163/support-kitchen-chemists/#sthash.vuI6Uss2.dpuf