There is no denying the Black haircare industry big business. It is after all a $684-million industry. And according to market research firm Mintel, one that would be worth an estimated $761 million by 2017. But until recently, the industry retail outlets were dominated by Korean immigrants. But now more and more Black entrepreneurs are getting in on the action.
Two sisters Judian Brown, 37, and Kadeian Brown, 35, opened their own beauty supply store, Black Girls Divine Beauty Supply and Salon in Flatbush, Brooklyn, in New York City some six years ago.
Judian is a licensed beautician and we both always wanted to own our own business, so we decided to do it together. We found that opening a beauty supply store was more lucrative than just a beauty salon, so we incorporated our talents with doing hair along with selling the product, explains Kadeian.
Once they decided to give it a go, they were all in–mentally and financially. We funded the start up with our income tax return and some savings. We didn’t get any loans or grants from banks, says Judian.
But there were some major challenges, especially breaking into an industry mainly controlled by Koreans suppliers. Yes, it was very difficult, in so many ways. The language barrier was one and we couldn’t seem to get the same kind of deals the Korean [retailers] get. But I’m proud to say we broke a few doors down, says Judian.
Adds Kadeian, We have a few very nice Korean vendors who work very well with us and are willing to do whatever they can to see us succeed.
There have been major business lessons for the sisters in their years in business. One of our biggest lessons is recognizing when there is a peak in the season and when there’s a downturn. Other lessons are to never give up and to always stick with it; things do get better, says Judian. And better things have gotten, so much so the two are preparing to expand. We are planning to launch our online service; our website is being worked on now and should be up and running very soon, says Kadeian.
And looking further into the future, the sisters plan to expand physically as well. Our long-term goals are to open more Black Girls Divine Beauty Supply shops all over the world, shared Kadeian.