Walking up and down Florida A&M University’s campus, it is hard not to notice the mixture of women with long hair, short hair, braids, wigs and everything in between.
It is no secret that hair is a major priority for a large number of black women.
Most of the women on campus wear weave or use some type of beauty supply product that can be found in local beauty supply shops.
The question then comes into play where are they getting their hair and beauty supplies from.
More than likely the answer to that question is one of the many Korean-owned beauty supply shops in Tallahassee.
Settles is a black owned beauty supply shop in Tallahassee. Yolanda Foutz-Settles inherited the business from her husband, who started selling beauty supplies off his moped when he was a freshman at FAMU. He eventually moved into the location they are at now in January of 1998 and then in March of that same year he passed away and Foutz-Settles took over.
Settles is a real family oriented business. Foutz-Settles parents help her run the beauty supply store and hair salon.
“We have to educate ourselves,” said the Rev. Foutz, who is Foutz-Settles father.
Koreans control more than 80 percent of the distribution of black hair care products, beauty supply stores and wig and extension manufacturers. They also reap the majority of the $7 billion industry.
“[African Americans] don’t always believe in supporting each other,” Foutz-Settles said.
Students like Cristina Betts said if black owned businesses were more affordable she would support them.
“I’m not sure if the hair store I go to is black owned…I would consider shopping at a black owned store if their prices were low,” said Betts, a fourth year business administration student from Kansas City, KS.
It’s a catch-22 that black beauty supply owners are struggling with. They cannot compete with the Koreans because Koreans pool all of their money together and help each other out and the same luxury is not afforded within the black community. Black-owned stores have to charge more because they have to pay more for their products.
“When you support us we have to support you…students need to come together and take care of your black community” the Rev. Foutz said. Foutz went on to talk about how Settles contributes to FAMU by offering a 5 percent discount to FAMU students with their student I.D.
The black dollar is a powerful thing when used correctly. It is time for black women to take some initiative and responsibility and help recycle the black dollar and to consider the role they play in the crisis within the black hair care industry.