Encyclopedia of African American Business History

By Juliet E. K. Walker | Go to book overview

H

HAIR CARE PRODUCTS INDUSTRY. The names of products such as ‘‘The California Curl,’’ ‘‘Isoplus,’’ ‘‘The Care Free Curl,’’ ‘‘Ultra Sheen,’’ and ‘‘African Royale’’ are household words within the black community. The entrepreneurial geniuses responsible for these and other ethnic hair care products are people such as Madame C. J. Walker,* Annie Pope Turnbo-Malone,* S. B. Fuller,* George E. Johnson,* Edward Gardner,* and Willie Morrow.* They developed a sophisticated network and overcame tremendous odds to bring these products to the consumers. The black hair care industry is an economic gold mine and for nearly a century has been one of the few industries where black people have demonstrated considerable success.

Market researchers have found that African Americans, who account for about 12.7 percent of the population, buy 34 percent of all hair care products sold. African American women have specifically been a target of market research. On the average, black women who visit a hair salon do so every two weeks, whereas white women visit once every seven weeks. In addition, the chemical treatment process for most African American women has traditionally begun at the age of 12, but this initial age is steadily decreasing. There is even a market for hair care appliances, special curling irons and hair dryers made specifically for African American women’s hair.

Overall, black people represent about 37 percent of the hair care market, spending $1.5 billion annually. Hair care manufacturer Joe Dudley,* founder of Dudley Products Co., states in a company brochure, Dudley’s Haircare Fact Book: ‘‘The cosmetology industry represents the salvation of Black America. Without this industry, there would be very little business activity in most

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