People who know me well understand, I'm not a racist. But, there is a GIANT elephant in the room and it needs to be discussed openly. I have friends of various nationalities in and out of the beauty industry. My parents and grandparents were entrepreneurs, and I have relatives who have their own businesses. Therefore, I have been around business all of my life.
I tend to be a very observant person and I have noticed the different business patterns of various nationalities. Being a black business owner, I face some of the same challenges as others when it comes to black consumers. I have to strive to ensure, first, I am legitimate. My products and services have to be credible and I have to provide proof. I have to reduce prices and/or run specials to accommodate the consumers, if not, they will ask for it. The bottom line, the black consumer does NOT trust the black business owner. (Yes, I said it!)
The difference between me and others I know, I don't mind because I am credible, I provide proof (see www.tonilove.com), and I run specials to show my appreciation. Also, I give back to those who patronize my business. I have chosen not to have "customers." I have clients, as I am building relationships. Many black business owners don't understand their consumers. Often times, the black consumer is misunderstood, and have been characterized as "cheap." I beg to differ.....black consumers, especially women, are more savvy today than ever, in their purchasing of goods and services.
But, the black consumers can be challenging to obtain and everyone think they have the formula to over-ride the obstacles. Once, obtained, the money flows, especially in the hair industry. According to statistics, last year, black people alone have spent over $500 billion dollars in hair care. And, black consumers make up the "smallest" piece of the overall economic pie. Yet, everyone is trying to figure out how to get a slice.
As a black business owner, especially in the hair industry, education is not valued and there lies the difference. Most salon owners have obtained a tenth grade education, a GED, and/or a high school diploma and received a cosmetology license. Many have gone on to become salon owners. Yet, they have not had business classes nor college courses. But, they are creative, talented, and are making a lot of money.
Although they are making a lot of money, many are frustrated, because they don't understand how to run a successful business. Or, they don't understand how take the successful business to the next level. Other nationalities tend to make continuing education a requirement to obtain employment in their salons.
These other nationalities have the same educational background as the black hairstylists, but, their perception of how a successful salon is run is very different. Most of their salons have staff meetings, employee handbooks, in-salon education, and they require their staff to attend a certain number of classes during the year. Basically, they have a system.
Lastly, one of the saddest things I've noticed, other nationalities don't feel black educators/hairstylists can teach them nor do their hair. And, this is not true. Therefore, many black hairstylists who want a diverse clientele, face another challenge. I have been fortunate enough to have diversity in my business, but, I hear the frustration of others who want to cross over. And, believe me, other nationalities are just as frustrated because they want a piece of the $500 billion dollar pie.
I say to the black business owners; continue to learn, ask questions, share information, and get enrolled in a class today! Technical skills alone is not the answer. To others reading this, don't sleep on the black consumers, they are very selective about who gets their dollars and believe me, they will be earned!:)
Create a Better Day!
Author: "The World of Wigs, Weaves, and Extensions" (Amazon.com, Walmart.com, everywhere!)
Facebook: Toni Love Cosmetology