Black Hair: Who owns the industry?
Recently, black hair has become a hot topic in mainstream America thanks to Chris Rock’s documentary Good Hair (and Oprah’s whole show devoted to the film).
This morning, I stumbled up on a video by documentary filmmaker Aron Ranen called Black Hair: The Korean Takeover In the 10 minute clip below, Aron introduces us to the methodical manner in which Koreans are literally taking over the black hair care industry.
In summary, despite the fact that African-Americans make up at least 90% of customers in the black hair care product industry, they only account for a small percentage of suppliers. Koreans on the west coast quickly began to realize that they held 80% of the market and so they could expand their businesses from shop owner to suppliers. They are slowly and methodically pushing out black-owned supply companies by claiming that there is no longer a demand for their products all the while duplicating the very same products in their own manufacturing companies and telling customers that the black-owned company products are not valuable and are cheap knockoffs of more high quality products (read: their products). One black-owned company, Kazuri, is highlighted.
It’s become a real problem and it’s highly concerning to me that yet again, our community is being taken advantaged of. I wonder how this happened. At what point did we close our eyes and allow Korean owned beauty supply stores to takeover? This is a problem on the west coast, for now but that will quickly change.
Just a few weeks ago I was getting my hair done when my stylist’s supply representative came in for orders. They began having a conversation about what large black hair care supply stores were still black-owned. I was surprised to hear that major companies with names I recognize from my youth, like SoftSheen Carson, are no longer black-owned and it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that they are now Korean owned.
As I watched the 10 minute clip from Aron’s 50-minute documentary I shook my head. I feel like this is yet one more example of the things that are going horribly wrong in our community. If there’s one industry where we should be the majority stakeholder, it’s in the business of manufacturing and supplying and selling our own hair care products, and yet we’ve sat by with our jokes and comments on the korean-owned stores and now they own the industry and have no shame in pushing out the little guys — us!
I encourage everyone to at least watch this 10-minute clip, if not purchase the whole DVD.