You can’t mention wigs and weaves without eliciting a chorus of snickers from our readers, but the reality is black women wear them, love them and spend big money to own them. The business of hair extensions is a $9 billion (yes, billion) dollar industry with black women doing much of the spending and little of the selling.
The disparity is borne from the Korean monopoly on distribution. It’s not that black female sellers aren’t there, it’s that they’re systematically shut out from acquiring product to sell in their stores by Korean distributors, according to The Florida Courier.
“Getting hair is a huge hurdle, because the distributors are Korean and most times they will only sell to other Koreans. White said, “I have to buy hair through exchange. It is rough, but if I don’t increase my hair game, I won’t be in business next year. It is a cold business in terms of the hair game.
Johnson said that some Korean distributors say they will not sell to stores within so many miles from their other clients, but when she tried to have hair sent to her Aliquippa location, which has no other beauty supply stores, they still would not let her purchase it. She said one distributor also told her the hair she wanted was no longer being sold, but when she went to a local Korean beauty supply store, that same hair was there. When she inquired about it she was told that a local store had told the distributor that if he sold to her, he would no longer buy from him. She said she agrees with location rules, ‘but there needs to be regulations. One Korean store should not be able to dictate the entire industry in one area.”
Whether you personally choose to wear weaves or not, you can agree that every industry, especially a billion dollar one, should be regulated.
And it also makes sense that black women, who make up the majority of consumers, are represented on the other side of the counter.
White has a solution for the current state of the weave business, that reads as a call action to black business owners:
White said Koreans succeed in the industry because they support each other, but the Black community does not. “They (Koreans) have the relationships and work within, we laugh at them when they are living together, then they break through and have four stores in our community. But we won’t help each other out. It is a culture thing.” None of the other Black-owned beauty supply stores work together to pool their resources.