When I was in cosmetology school, I took a class and the presenter told us that Cosmetologists have the 3rd highest earning potential following 1)Doctors and 2)Lawyers.
I believe him, I mean why not? Just like the later two professions named, if you save enough lives, you could earn lots of money! Ha Ha!
Cosmetology school, if you even have to attend, is way cheaper than law or medical school, however, it takes more time to build to that earning bracket. The one thing that hurts Cosmetology when it comes to its potential to earn compared to the two professions is that strictness on board rules and regulations and public access. Perhaps, that is what balances everything out and it is the price we have to pay?
Okay, so we have all heard the statistics of how much black women spend on hair care products and extensions blah, blah, blah. I’ve seen spending numbers in the billions and more recently dabbling in the trillions.
I’m no economist and I’m not going to sit here and dazzle you with fancy vocabulary, statistics and equations on black spending and economics to tell you that we need to wise up. The dollars being spent definitely are not returning to those who work in and support the industry.
Example, the consumer will spend maybe $200-$500 on hair extensions from the distributor. Stylists, however, may only see 15-35% depending on pricing for installing and styling the hair. Direct effect of demand, they are selling us something we are unable to produce so they can charge what they want while stylist receive pennies on the dollar to install it.
The black beauty industry could be doing much better than it is today. When it comes to the hair grown on someone else’s hair, it is unrealistic for us to believe that we will have control over that. They will always have the upper hand in that area as long as people are purchasing but what about everything else? I have no reason to believe we are not capable of producing all of things monopolized overseas.
Here are just a few ways that I feel professionals and consumers alike can do to make a difference:
1. Support small black businesses (and spread the word)
If customer service is good, product/service is of good quality and you can afford it, why not? There are so many quality small companies that are struggling to due to no other reason than lack of support. Many of the larger companies have made it difficult for smaller companies to survive competition-wise. Where we spend our dollars counts.
The fact that I have to mention this bothers me, but it is a reality I must discuss. Poor customer service is a complaint I often hear people complain about when it comes to patronizing small black business but let’s not be so quick generalize. We have experienced poor customer service from many different backgrounds of people in businesses owned by many different races of people. I don’t blame you, if service is bad, don’t go back, but please do not lump a everyone into one category based on some bad experiences.
There, I said it! Supporting small businesses in general is good for the community. Black business deserve the same fighting chance to make an impact.
2. Go into business!
Got a great idea? Is there something you use that is essential to your profession? Try coming up with your own line! You’ll be surprised what you can develop with a little research and determination! There are endless possibilities in the beauty industry: products, barbering tools, computer software, salon furniture and equipment, education, etc.
Ever been to a black hair show, many of the vendors aren’t even black. No, I am not saying that non-black people should not sell at black hair shows. I am saying that you go to a hair show targeted towards black but almost none of the vendors are…black. If you went to a Irish hair festival and 90% of the vendors were Black or Asian, wouldn’t you initially do a double-take? Maybe have a few questions? Not racist, just curious! That’s all I’m saying! This has always baffled and bothered me.
As a woman active in the beauty industry, I see a lot of our talented young women not reaching their full potential because of the lack of confidence and lack of proper guidance. Many view owning a business as something unattainable that requires unreasonable about of startup capital. Through time and influence, I hope to change that mindset!
How about we band together and begin opening some of these beauty supply stores. How can you have zero control over something many depend on so desperately? I have been in beauty supply stores as big as department stores. None of these dollars are going back into our pockets. From the lease being paid down to the hair pins being sold.
3. Reduce diversion
There is a neighborhood beauty supply store on every corner and they are selling professional products that should only be available to and retailed by licensed stylists. While this temporarily helps product sales, it can also hurt the brand reputation for the company. Sometimes the product is old and ineffective, if that is even the same product you are getting in the bottle!
Yes, you can occasionally find a bottle of CHI or Paul Mitchell at your neighborhood grocery store but it is almost impossible to find other products such as color and chemical treatments from those major brands. However, you can find professional brands targeted at black Americans on almost any shelf in almost any drug, grocery, department store. I should not be able to buy Mizani or CHI at T.J. Maxx or Kroger! You don’t see Rusk haircolor being sold there! See how small the “ethnic” hair care isle is vs. we can find there and how much we spend.
I know these 3 things will not change the state of the black hair business overnight but we have to start somewhere. Yes, there are several successes in the black hair industry however it is only a small percentage compared the number of people in the industry producing numbers for larger corporations and never seeing the profits. Just imagine if a fraction of those billions of dollars being spent were being invested back into the salons and beauty business in our communities. It will spread out farther that the hair business, such as educating the youth and starting other businesses in the community, and that is a good thing.