From a young age, many of us were aware that the first self-made black female millionaire was a woman called Sarah Breedlove, more popularly known as Madam C.J. Walker.

Walker made her fortune by developing and marketing a line of beauty and hair products for black women and many who came after her followed her enterprising vision. However, less well known is Garret Morgan, a black man who invented the relaxer cream, (and traffic lights and what became known as the gas mask, but that’s a story for another day). These early enterprising pioneers would hardly recognize the black hair industry today.

In 2015 more than $946 million was spent by black people on hair care in the US, and the demand is so high that sales are predicted to reach $1.4 billion by 2020!

According to research conducted by Mintel in 2015, African Americans were the highest consumers of hair care/styling products. There is no doubt that the consumer averages are not far behind here in the UK.

So, with all that money spent on hair care, those creating and selling products should be filthy rich, right?!? Somebody’s pockets are definitely getting fat and business is surely better than good, it’s BRILLIANT!

However, what is business without a little bit of politics?….

Who hasn’t had the experience of going into a hair/beauty store and being persuaded (not advised) by an unqualified, non-black, predominately south-east Asian male, to purchase a curling custard or yaki weave that will match our hair texture perfectly…Hmmmm…#RaiseOneEyebrow

Now, I don’t mention this to knock the efforts of their service, or their enterprise however every now and then, it’s comforting to be able to ask the sales assistant “Have you tried it? Did it work for you? Should I buy the cheaper option”?

I have NEVER in my life, had the privilege of walking into a local hair/beauty store to be sold a product by a black person (hairdressers don’t count). Granted, I live in West London but what about Southall, Acton, Shepherd’s Bush, Ladbroke Grove, etc?

17658109 - portrait of an attractive black woman, afro hairstyle, looking at the shop window

And yes, it’s frustrating that there are very few black hair/beauty stores, owned/run by black owners even in South London! (Despite not having done a specific research study, the evidence is visible on the high street and you are all free to test the notion). Instead of trying to figure out who is to blame, or whether we are within our rights to complain, the fact remains; The black hair care business is booming, so why are more of us not trying to get a piece of the pie?

We wanted to hear from an authority on the subject and interviewed Sandra Brown Pinnock, owner of Xsandy’s Hair and Beauty, the only black owned black hair store in South East London. We asked Sandra:

“Why is it important for black people to own hair care businesses?”

Her answer was sterling!

“It’s so important for black people to own a part of the hair care business because we essentially influence and contribute to the hair care industry. The Black hair care market is at least a £684 million industry, yet hardly any of that cash makes it back into the Black community. It’s vital that we at least own a part of such a lucrative market which we fund, so that we can have the economic power to maintain our communities through better jobs/employment, housing and health care and most importantly, having something to pass to the next generation.”

Xsandys' Peckham
Xsandys’ Peckham

 

Can you imagine the amount of jobs, economic empowerment and business inspiration black hair care businesses owners would give to the younger generation?

It all sounds simple, but is it?

Sandra said:

“One of the biggest challenges that a black hair care business owner may encounter is dealing with increased prices, something which usually comes down to the inability to position ourselves as a low-costs leader against the competition, who usually have access to better resources and economies of scale.”

It sounds a tad daunting yet Sandra also revealed that there are simple ways to overcome this by staying #SolutionFocused

Sandra continued:

“Be prepared to constantly innovate and optimize, and stay one step ahead of your competitors.”

 For those wanting a piece of the VERY big pie, Sandra says;

  • Have a good business plan; after all, if you don’t plan, you plan to fail
  • Research and select a good location; Black people live everywhere, perhaps think about an area that hasn’t got any black businesses but has black/mixed race people living in the community
  • Know your USP aka unique selling point; why should people buy from you and not someone else up the road?
  • Find a good wholesaler; buy in bulk from a good supplier for better efficiencies. #OneStopShopWillDo and finally…
  • Make sure that you KNOW your products; because not only do you want to provide your customers/community with the best service, you want to educate them too!

 

Xsandy's Lewisham
Xsandy’s Lewisham

 

“Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change we seek.” Barack Obama 

Makes sure you pop into Xsandy’s Hair and Beauty in Lewisham or Peckham, South London. Keep in touch with them via @xsandysuk and you can also visit the website www.xsandyshairandcosmetics.co.uk

Well, what are you waiting for?

Copyright/Image Credit: 123RF Stock Photo.

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