3 Things Baltimore's Natural Black Hair Care Industry Is Missing

3 Things Baltimore's Natural Black Hair Care Industry Is Missing

Black hair stylists need to make improvements.

I remember when I was a little girl, my mom would take me to the hair salon with her. It was in the 90s, and most black women were relaxing their hair, using harsh chemicals to straighten their beautiful kinky, coily strands. My mom was one of them; she wore her hair in a short tapered style. I remember how shiny her black hair would be after having it permed, styled, and sprayed with oil sheen. Back then, the "hairdressers" as my mom calls them, worked in a professional, organized fashion, using client information logs, working by appointment only, and providing great customer service. Mom always walked in with expectations and left with all, or at least most of them met.

But today, many black women in Baltimore do not have such rosy experiences with their hair stylist or the establishment they frequent for hair care services. They're not treated as actual clients or receive a high level of customer service. In fact, it is now common for women to jump from stylist to stylist in search of the right "set of hands" and experience they desire. There are many factors contributing to the decline of successful, satisfying hair care salons. As for Baltimore, there are three factors in particular that appear to be the culprit.

1. The transition from chemically straightened hair to natural hair.

For the past five years, almost half of black women have given up on using relaxers and now wear their hair naturally. This is amazing for the face of black women generally speaking. We've begun to accept our hair as God made it. But it means great changes for the black hair care industry. Certain products begin to sell less, and others more. To keep up with the change, top performing hair care brands have introduced "natural" lines that cater to textured strands.

However, there has been a time lag between these new products hitting the market and stylists becoming educated on using them. In Baltimore, the hair stylists that were using products for relaxed hair for years have not spent the time and money to re-brand themselves and become versatile hair care providers. This has created a division in the market for black hair salons. Some of them only specialize in natural hair care, some of them only for relaxed hair services. It's now a process to find the right stylist.

2. From employee to booth renter.

When my mom would get her hair done, her stylist was an employee of that salon. She didn't pay booth rent to the owner each month. Now, many hair care professionals work in a salon plaza and pay a monthly fee to work from an assigned booth. They are not a part of a team with a common mission and brand. So, if you find a stylist that meets your expectations, the establishment in which they work may not meet theirs. For example, increases in booth rent, conflict between other stylists, and limited access to the facility can make the hair stylist lifestyle nomadic. This is unappealing for prospective clients.

3. Lack of an entrepreneur spirit.

Even with the plethora of available digital platforms to manage a business, it's disappointing to know a large percentage of talented hair stylists do not market themselves as such. Prospective clients should be able to find portfolios of stylists' work and their contact information online. Even when hair care professionals offer business cards, there is usually no link to a social media platform. This is crucial for any entrepreneur in the service industry. Clients want to know and see how you work with other people.

In addition to poor marketing skills, many stylists do not offer clients personalized services. This means they will use the same products and techniques for all clients, even when it's obvious that such a tactic is ineffective. For black women, hair care is a critical part of our overall health. When it's apparent our personal needs are not priority, we move on to where they are.

There is certainly an ample amount of talent among black hairstylists in Baltimore, however the lack of professionalism and business savvy is hurting the industry. Salon owners have difficulty with finding and keeping stylists to employ, and clients have difficulty with finding a reliable stylists that fulfill their hair care needs. When more hair stylists see their gifts as a product of value, then we will see changes in customer loyalty and long-term success.

Cover Image Credit: pescepr

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To The Boy Who Will Love Me Next

If you can't understand these few things, leave before things get too involved

To the boy that will love me next, I need you to know and understand things about me and my past. The things I have been though not only have shaped the person I’ve become, but also sometimes controls my life. In the past I’ve been used, abused, and taken for granted, and I want something real this time. The guys before you were just boys; they didn’t know how to treat me until it was too late. They didn’t understand how to love me, until I broke my own heart. Before you truly decide to love me I want you to understand these things.

When I tell you something, please listen.

I’m my own person, I want to be loved a certain way. If I ask you to come over and watch movies with me please do it, if I ask for you to leave me alone for a few hours because it’s a girl’s night please do it. I don’t just say things to hear my own voice, I say things to you because it’s important to my life and the way I want to be loved. I’m not a needy person when it comes to being loved and cared for, but I do ask for you to do the small things that I am say.

Forgive my past.

My past is not a pretty brick road, it is a highway that has a bunch of potholes and cracks in it. I have a lot of baggage, and most of it you won’t understand. But don’t let my past decided whether you want to love me or not. My past has helped form who I am today, but it does not define who I am. My past experiences might try and make an appearance every once in a while, but I will not go back to that person I once was, I will not return to all that hurt I once went though. When I say those things, I’m telling the complete and honest truth. I relive my past every day, somethings haunt me and somethings are good reminds. But for you to love me, I need you to accept my past, present and future.

I’m just another bro to the other guys.

I have always hung out with boys, I don’t fit in with the girl groups. I have 10 close girlfriends, but the majority of my friends are guy, but don’t let this scare you. If I wanted to be with one of my guy friends I would already be with him, and if you haven’t noticed I don’t want them because I’m with you. I will not lose my friendships with all my guy friends to be able to stay with you. I will not cut off ties because you don’t like my guy friends. I have lost too many buddies because of my ex-boyfriends and I promised myself I wouldn’t do that again. If you don’t like how many guy friends I have you can leave now. Don’t bother trying to date me if you can accept the fact I’m just another bro.

I might be a badass, but I actually have a big heart.

To a lot of people I come off to be a very crazy and wild girl. I will agree I can be crazy and wild, but I’m more than that. I’m independent, caring, responsible, understanding, forgiving, and so such more type of woman. Many people think that I’m a badass because I don’t take any negatively from anyone. Just like we learned when we were younger, “if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all.” Most people can’t do that in today’s world, so I stick up for myself and my friends. I don’t care what anyone thinks about me, or their option on how I live my life. The only thing I care about is being able to make myself happy. Even though I’m an independent woman, understand that I do have a big heart. Honesty when I truly care for someone I will do just about anything they ask, but don’t take advantage of this. Once you take advantage of this part of me, all respect will be lost for you.

I’m hard to love.

Sometimes I want to be cuddle and get attention, and sometimes I don’t want you to talk to me for a couple hours. Sometimes I want you to take me out for a nice meal, but sometimes I want a home cooked meal. Every day is different for me, sometimes I change my mind every hour. My mood swings are terrible on certain days, and on those days you should probably just ignore me. I’m not easy to love, so you’ll either be willing to find a way to love me, or you’ll walk out like so many others have.

I’m scared.

I’m scared to love someone again. I’ve been hurt, heartbroken, and beat to the ground in my past relationships. I want to believe you are different, I want to hope things will truly work out, but every relationship has always ended up the same way. I’m scared to trust someone, put my whole heart into them, just to be left and heartbroken again. I sick and tired of putting my whole body and soul into someone for them to just leave when it is convenient for them. If you want to love me, understand it won’t be easy for me to love you back.

When “I’m done.”

When I say “I’m done” I honestly don’t mean that I’m done. When I say that it means I need and want you to fight for me, show me why you want to be with me. I need you to prove that I’m worth it and there’s no one else but me. If I was truly done, I would just walk away, and not come back. So if I ever tell you, “I’m done,” tell me all the reasons why I’m truly not done.

For the boy who will love me next, the work is cut out for you, you just have to be willing to do it. I’m not like other girls, I am my own person, and I will need to be treated as such. For the boy that will love me next, don’t bother with me unless you really want to be with me. I don’t have time to waste on you if you aren’t going to try and make something out of us. To the boy who will love me next, the last thing I would like to say is good luck, I have faith in you.

Cover Image Credit: Danielle Balint

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