will mainstream attention threaten natural entrepreneurs?
By Safety Pins
August 23, 2010
Words Kat Stephens, Contributing Writer for BGLH
As naturals, we tend to be excited when the ‘mainstream’ picks up on the trends in our community. But what if this attention destroys natural entrepreneurship?
I have worked in the beauty industry for the last 11 years as a professional makeup artist. In my retail beauty days, I was often invited to exclusive trainings and launch parties by some of the top tier luxury beauty and hair brands. Over time I noticed something different in the atmosphere; there seemed to be more sprinklings of natural women in various advertisements.
At a preview of the launch of Frederic Fekkai’s Fall 2010 line an executive teased us with tidbits of a “revolutionary” step for the company; they were launching a set of products with shea butter. The executive went on to say that, for the first time in the company’s history, the ads for the product would feature an ethnic model. In high pitched enthusiasm she went on to say that they were looking to ‘broaden their market share’, and wanted to ‘go after a piece of Carol’s Daughter’s pie’. To hear them state the significance of going after the Carol’s Daughter client hurt my heart.
For years naturals were a segment of the market that major companies ignored. Our hair didn’t matter because — to them — we didn’t have hair that mattered. We had this unruly and difficult thing to deal with that didn’t even warrant a series of products. In this vaccuum, black-owned companies like Oyin Handmade, Miss Jessie’s, Kinky Curly, Carol’s Daughter, Shea Moisture and Curls were able to thrive.
But perhaps the ‘natural movement’ has become a victim of its own success, attracting the attention of major/mainstream companies that are enticed by our disposable income. There are lots of mega companies poised to buy out and block out black-owned businesses. There are alot of companies banking on their ability to throw mediocre products at us, and expecting that we’ll buy them as long as they feature a model that looks like us. These companies are not banking on us being too smart, or too united.
Thanks to YouTube and blogs, the online natural hair communtiy is helping to launch hundreds of what I affectionately call, Naturalprenuers. I will try my hardest to buy my hair products from natural/black-owned businesses. Right now I think that’s the biggest statement we can all make.
What are your thoughts? Do you think it’s important for natural hair products to remain natural/black owned? Why or why not?
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