Business of beauty: Black-owned beauty suppliers form alliance with Chinese-Korean suppliers

The Dallas Examiner

About 63 percent of Black women spend up to $240 annually on hair and styling tools over a six-month period, according to Mintel reports. Moreover, 10 percent of Black women spend over $250 annually on these products, with 51 percent of Black consumers spending more on hair care items than 34 percent of consumers overall.

The Black hair industry is a booming business that is already worth $9 billion nationwide and internationally, and Black people aren’t profiting from it like they should, according to the Black Owned Beauty Supply Association.

Korean storeowners and suppliers dominate profits from Black hair brands and products through the Chinese manufacturers they buy from, but this will change soon.

In October, BOBSA founder Sam Ennon created a direct link with the Chinese government and their factories to form an alliance in which Black-owned hair brands will be created and sold to Black hair vendors and beauty supplies.

“Our market is every aspect of getting products to the end users, which is the Black consumer,” Ennon said. “There is a story to be told, which is buy Black and circulate the Black dollar into our community.”

Ennon said the goal for his new joint venture is to create a new pipeline in which Black-owned beauty supply stores can have a direct connection with hair distributors without middlemen and sell African American brands of hair products through BOBSA, which has advocated for Black hair institutions and opened up 200 Black beauty supply stores over the past 13 years.

During the visit, Ennon said he received a warm welcome from Chinese officials and was given a tour of hair supply factories, which unveiled information regarding Chinese-Korean relationships in the Black hair business.

“The Chinese factories aren’t making very much profit selling hair to the Koreans,” he said. “The Chinese really wanted to get into coming to the United States and sale directly to the Black community and hair care industry, but they couldn’t because they had no way of doing it.”

Ennon said BOBSA has tried to work with Korean suppliers in the past, and at that time they made it clear that they didn’t want to work with African American hair proprietors.

Although this obstacle creates a barrier for Black hair businesses, the connection between Chinese manufacturers and Black-owned beauty stores isn’t easy to grasp, either.

“I have been told many times by African American store owners that they buy directly from the factories,” Ennon wrote in a written statement to the press. “After being there myself, I realized the logistics are not possible, which are a hindrance to the success of Black beauty supply stores and limits competition in this market.”

The culture clash presented an obstacle, but BOBSA was able to eventually work it out.

“The Chinese and Koreans have never worked with the U.S.,” Ennon said. “We have always been the consumer. So, it’s about getting them to understand how we do business and understanding how they do business.”

The new African American hairline will be manufactured from a new factory in China called Anhui Union Hair and Cultural Co. Ltd. The first shipment will arrive this month through BOBSA’s Enterprise of Black Hair Alliance in Chicago. It will be sold nationwide to all Black-owned beauty supplies and to online Black hair vendors. The brand will also be promoted at Black hair shows throughout the country, according to Ennon.


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