ABOVE PHOTO: Real Estate investor, Princess Hill, and award-winning competition and master stylist, Kelly Williams, decided to open their own beauty supply store in Detroit, MI.
The beauty industry involves black women from all corners of the world as customers, stylists, clinicians, models, manufacturers, spokespersons and more. The ethnic beauty business is a $15 billion business that consists of a 96 percent African-American customer base, but roughly only 3 percent of the retailers are African-American.
There has been talk in salons, on talk shows, at events and classrooms on what should be done about the disparities and discriminations in the industry. Some say boycott hair products, while others say boycott Asian-owned stores. However, there has been another group of individuals who have decided to take a more bold approach.
Real Estate investor, Princess Hill, and award-winning competition and master stylist, Kelly Williams, long-time friends and Detroit natives, decided to open their own beauty supply store in the Motorcity, a city that has been hit harshly by the downsizing of the auto industry and the political scandal of former mayor Kwame Kilpatrick.
Hill and Williams contacted Beauty Supply Institute (www.BeautySupplyInstitute.com), a company founded by economic activist Devin Robinson, who opened three of his own stores within 18 months almost 10 years ago (after being chased out of one by a golf-club-holding Korean owner for what turned out to be a case of false accusation). Robinson also staged a one-week boycott in 2009 against non-black-owned beauty supply stores. Since that time, Beauty Supply Institute has opened almost 70 stores for other black women in the United States, Canada and the Caribbean and have helped to generate over $13 million in gross revenues for urban communities.
Koreans (and Middle Easterners) continue to have a dominant presence in the beauty market. When we asked the Detroit store owners why, they said, “Their communities teach their children from young how to become great merchants. We may know more of the products but they know more about the retail business. This is why we were pleased once we began working with Beauty Supply Institute. They focus so much on running the retail business and it made us extremely prepared to be successful and profitable.”
They went on to say, “No black beauty business owner is immune to the industry disparities and lockouts. Kizure felt it and now we see Carol’s Daughter undergoing a bankruptcy restructuring. But this industry is constantly growing so I doubt these companies will close their doors for good. They are run by smart people and we should ensure we stand behind them as they re-emerge. We are in this business for the long-haul so you can expect to see us pop up more and more stores across the country.”
Hill and Williams are already working on their second store in Maryland.