A Promising Future
So how do black-owned haircare companies continue to excel in the natural haircare market they pioneered now that mainstream companies see it as a viable business opportunity? Another way is by capitalizing on the fact that they created their businesses to serve women like them. “Authenticity is key, particularly when you’re dealing with hair, which is a very personal subject for most,” says Miko Branch. “Titi and I are the face of our brand. Customers have seen our hair go through changes and they’ve watched us transition many women, so they feel comfortable with our products.”
Although it may be easier for mainstream companies that already have relationships and shelf space with retail chains, there are opportunities for burgeoning entrepreneurs who are looking to get a foothold in the market, says Malaika Tamu Cooper, founder of the Natural Haircare Expo, a 15-city tour that features natural haircare workshops, classes, and vendors. She suggests that owners take advantage of showcases like her expo and the World Natural Hair Health & Beauty Show that takes place each year in Atlanta.
Haircare blogs and social media will continue to influence which products consumers turn to, so brands must be willing to talk haircare on their Facebook pages and attend events such as hair meetups across the country, says Price, who is also looking to sell products in Harrods in the U.K.
But perhaps survival is simpler than that. “You have multimillion-dollar companies with major advertising budgets and distribution deals already in place, so we’re no longer competing with the handful of people you see at the hair show,” says Kinky-Curly’s Davis. “How are we going to survive? We have to keep creating products people love.”