In light of recent conversations surrounding the importance of black spaces, lest we forget the economic aspect of it. As natural hair gains recognition in mainstream arenas we mustn’t confuse this new-found interest as benevolent in nature.
This movement to embrace our natural texture and recognize our own unique beauty also comes with financial opportunities. Black women have been the financial cash cow of the hair care industry from “magic” greases, to relaxers, to weaves and wigs*.
Market research firm Mintel estimated the size of the 2012 market at $684 million, with a projection of $761 million by 2017.
If general market brands, weaves, extensions*, wigs*, independent beauty supply stores, distributors, e-commerce, styling tools and appliances were to be included, that number would reach $500 billion.
Keeping those figures in mind, the influx of major brands marketing products for co-washing, curl enhancing, oiling and other buzz words popularized by the natural hair movement should not be surprising.
If you grew up in the 90s then the main title should have evoked images of the Daymond John brand FUBU, for us By Us.
The concept was simple yet revolutionary, a brand owner who resembled his target audience! What remains true then and now is , as a whole despite being at the bottom of the economic food chain we remain atop the spending chain setting trends and driving industries that benefit communities other than our own.
Thankfully, the movement has spurned opportunities for black owned hair care brands to flourish.We must continue to build on that momentum and make a conscious decision to support black owned products and services.
Any serious attempt to bridge the racial wealth gap must leverage the billion dollars of buying power wielded by the black consumer.
Not only should we wholeheartedly reject the attempt to co-opt the movement away from its original intent and the aesthetic of its creators but we should also ensure it evolves into that of economic empowerment.
www.saving-naturally.com attempts to shift the paradigm by providing a platform that makes it easy to support black owned businesses. Product owners and salon owners will be able to submit deals geared towards the natural haired consumer.
We have the power to start trends across online platforms (see “Black Twitter”), surely, we have the power to start the trend of reclaiming our buying power. Be part of the revolution, sign up as a business or consumer at www.saving-naturally.com.
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