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Changing Faces: Reviving the Black Beauty and Business Industries

By Megan Davis

The Truth Contributor


“We need to boycott the beauty supply store at Swayne Field.” These are the words from celebrity stylist and Toledo native, Moira Frazier (also known as Fingaz) who was back home  from Los Angeles, preparing for her Mane Event hair show this past fall.


She took to Facebook live to express her frustration with the Asian store owners who insulted her during a visit there. She had several packages of hair that she wanted to purchase for the upcoming show, and the clerk told her “you know you can’t return those.” Fuming, she went live to discuss her experience. The comments were rolling with support of her call to boycott the store. People began sharing their own statuses saying “Boycott the beauty supply store in Swayne Field!”


It is experiences like these that often cause us to stop patronizing and supporting a business. When an offense that is irreconcilable takes place, people will leave a restaurant, salon or church in a heartbeat. We tell ourselves we will never go through this again. That fed-up feeling is something that provokes people to act almost immediately so when we are over it, we are over it! In our anger, our resourcefulness takes over, and we begin looking for a replacement for that church, that restaurant or that hairdresser. 


When we seek, we shall find. It is this same determination that provokes us to change a situation like homelessness or being in a bad relationship. We move on, striving to do and be better than before.


We see the theme of boycotting being played out across America right now. In Hollywood, comedian Mo’nique called for a boycott of Netflix because she was given a low-ball offer for a stand-up comedy show. She stated in several videos and interviews that other comedians were offered more money and that their resumes weren’t all as long or as good as hers. She cited inequity because she is not only a woman, she is a black woman.


She decided to use her social media platforms to take a stand, and her position has people divided on whether or not to support her because, in part, her truth is what most of us have or are going through today.


The underlying issue is what black people have been facing – we work harder for less.

Other comedians and actors who have been in Mo’nique’s situation have chosen a different route to move up on the pay scale. They have either negotiated deals behind closed doors, quietly said “no” to a bad deal, and sought other roles that would be rewarding; or they have made their own companies or films to highlight their quality of work, dedication and worthiness. Many more actors choose one of those routes as opposed to those who have spoken out who have yet to see the big screen again such as Terrence Howard who tried to get more money for the Iron Man films or Jada Pinkett Smith who is often found boycotting something. Poor Aunt Viv from Fresh Prince of Bel Air has yet to see a new script.


We are seeing product companies being boycotted it for their insensitive advertising methods such as H & M that recently featured a black  boy with a hoodie  that had  a money on it and an offensive saying. People were outraged!


We saw the same outrage when a Dove soap campaign showed a lovely black woman transform from herself into a white woman after using their skin care products. Then we saw Shea moisture’s company take a nose dive when they decided to run a marketing campaign that featured white women complaining about their too curly, “unmanageable” hair. When that video hit the Internet, it went viral and people reacted in disgust and immediately called for a boycott.


This was because the women who made Shea Moisture a household name were black with naturally nappy hair, Napturals! Just as quickly as that happened and support for the company tanked, hundreds of other individual-owned small companies rose to the occasion saying “we are here, still black and still handmade.” This is where we have come to know that no matter how many ways the industry tries to change the face of beauty we are still here, even if at a grass-roots level, growing our home-based businesses, one sale at a time.


It is the natural hair movement that has birthed so many businesses in the first place, from shop owners to product developers, to business coaches and event planners. Just like Madam CJ Walker, or Damon John who created FUBU, black men and women are using their hands to make any and everything with their own unique twist. Today, thanks to social media, black business owners can find customers just about anywhere as people who are disgruntled with corporations who don’t care about us, who aren’t paying attention to our needs, continue to disappoint us in some way.


No matter the many companies that will try to appropriate something that doesn’t originate with them, we are still being found in our communities establishing businesses and organizations that do provide products and services that are specific to our own needs. Even if major corporations have millions of dollars to pour into campaigns targeting African-American women, there are still hundreds of small little-engine-that-could type businesses out there selling their products from the trunks of their cars, backpacks, social media and free websites they created themselves for free.


Inasmuch as we set trends that others borrow or steal, black consumers are now able to scour the Internet searching for  local artisans. With websites like Etsy and the new Facebook marketplace; with small events in the community that feature vendors, people are seeking out local  businesses to support. The demand is there, and so are the companies.


The engine behind the huge demand for clothing, products and services are black women – women who are mothers, students, professionals; wives who want the best for their husbands and children. They are women who want to connect with their roots, and the earth, to be more conscious of what they put in and on their bodies; women who won’t settle for whatever they can find that is cheap. They are more aware of the labels and the sources from where they are purchasing items.


More women are growing their own herbs and vegetables. More women are taking sewing classes to make their own clothing. More women are going natural and learning how to care for their own hair, while finding what products work for them; and women are making products that are healthy and beneficial for their hair and body-some which are being sold.


Rather than spending time and energy on boycotts, we have our own beauty supply store in Toledo that is black-owned and operated. Powell’s, located on Nebraska Ave. is that place where the family treats us like family. We take care of each other. That is something the other beauty supply stores can’t do for the black community-they take care of their own families.

The others just want our money, but a place that is for us by us, wants us to look and feel good; they value our support and they find ways to support us as well. A family like the Powell family has built their business from the ground up, and their hard work has established them in this community as valued leaders.


So, what if someone is standing with Mo’Nique in her boycott with Netflix? Toledo has a film company called Prim8 Vision that has released full feature films and multiple series on Youtube (for free). If you didn’t like the Grammy results, we have a plethora of musicians and singers in Toledo from the Wall Music family to Glass City talent who do live shows weekly across the city. If you want goods and services that are made by us, it’s as simple as an online search to locate many new companies to support.


In retrospect, having a business can be difficult for small companies because they may be operated by only one person, a person who may be married or have small children; it may be someone with a disability. Most of all, many small businesses don’t have the resources to stay open long hours, or to price items at low costs such as Walmart. Small businesses also may create in small batches, if they make something by hand. For those who are thinking about supporting local businesses or small businesses, here are a few tips to help make your experience a positive one:


1.     To best support the business, find out their hours ahead of visiting them or calling them.

2.     If they don’t carry something you are looking for, ask if they can get it or suggest it as a

        new item in their store.

3.     If you weren’t wowed the first time, give them another chance to get it right.

4.     If you weren’t pleased with the customer service, let them know, respectfully and they

        can work on their customer service skills.

5.     If you like them, tell others so they can support too!


What mainstream marketing cannot do is pretend to know the experiences of Madam CJ  Walker, a woman who made something to fill a need for women in her own community.  They cannot know how slavery left women without the fruit of the land to nourish their hair and scalp. They cannot know the struggle of trying to be presentable while working sun up to sun down in fields that baked their skin and fried their hair. Because of this, they cannot create something that speaks to the soul of a black woman. This is how the face of Black Beauty remains the standard that others seek after. Though they may appropriate it, we own it. Take that knowledge and power to the bank!



Copyright © 2018 by [The Sojourner's Truth]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 08/16/18 14:12:13 -0700.

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