Melissa Harris-Perry | June 10, 2012
>>> there is big business in black hair . the mass market black hair product industry is worth an estimated $185 million. more than one-third of that market belongs to the two largest black hair care makers, l'oreal and alberto colbert. straightened hair has been the cash how, but relaxer sales have begun to decline. the demand from all of those natural women for products to take care of their hair has given life to a cot auj industry, made up mostly entrepreneurs of african-american women . some of whom whipped up products of their own to help meet demand. joining the ranks of black women whose beauty salons have long been the bedrock of small businesses in black community, and followed in the footsteps of madame c.j. walker . in the guinness book of world records for the first woman to become a self-made millionaire. okay. so there is money to be made here. and there is money to be made in both ways that are troubling and terrific.
>> what's so interesting about that, with all of politics and all the -- the emotionally health issues, us loving ourselves, we're vain.
>> we want to look good.
>> nobody is talking about that. we even judge each other -- we were just talking about some being upset on twitter. there is still this thing about getting your hair done. whether it's afro, twists, braids, relaxers, everyone wants their hair done, so she -- you know, embraces just get up and go, and she's beautiful and so people on the internet, they just how come she doesn't go to a natural salon, da da da da da.
>> salange knowles, the sister of beyonce, who we have an obsession with on "mhp." we want it done, whatever the grooming it.
>> we want it done.
>> when i talk about the industry, it's not just the products industry, it's also like the informational industry. curling, nikki, is about creating a community where people are having this conversation.
>> and working it out.
>> exactly. i am proud to be able to provide a positive platform for women who come in a safe place and encourage each other, share, and get this information, and it goes beyond the aesthetic and goes back to what you were saying, self acceptance, accepting hair for what it looks like, whether you want to get up and go, or twist and braid out, and no judgment. for the most part, myself and the curly nikki.com community this is not about being anti relaxer or anti straight hair at all. this is about empowering textured women to achieve healthier hair and versatility.
>> textured women . everybody is textured.
>> anthony dickey salon here in new york, hair rules, i went there for the first time since i'm here doing broadway and i knew i was transitioning out of a relaxer and really, because there was so much new growth, and the relaxed part wouldn't curl up so we did the big chop. i remember sitting in the salon in the waiting room, and he has white customers and natural customers and relaxed customers, and every single person had a head full of hair, that was the first time that i have ever sat in a black salon and everybody's hair was beautiful. because we are usually frying it and singing it and chemically --
>> beating it into submission.
>> beating it into submission and here this was roomful of beautiful women .
>> we're talking about economies, and i kind of -- since it's us, i want to get to the nitty gritty of this. i think it's really -- and it feels great to embrace all of the positives of what we're seeing in terms of black natural hair . when we talk about the economics of hair, we're talking about -- there are people who are now robbing stores that sell extension hair and selling it on the black market , and i think the idea of actually robbing a place to sell hair that came off someone else's head, to put on your own head and that there is enough of a market and an obsession with that, is worth talking about. you go down in harlem at any given windy day, there are tumble weeds of synthetic or natural hair rolling down the street. you know, or on the subway. the pencil that goes underneath, because the weave is not a good weave. that speaks to me of another kind of addiction. and a place where we haven't yet moved. another kind of pain that we're not comfortable addressing.
>> and there is a lot of profit to be made from that.
>> on the one hand, small business owners, overwhelming for african-american women , salon owners of one kind or another, but l'oreal making millions, from african-american women 's hair, and beauty supply stores, often immigrant workers owning that. a multiethnic sort of -- an international system that is in part supplying us. we'll talk more about black hair . this time we'll go into a little bit not only our history, not only the economics, but the aesthetics. what it looks like and we'll have a great moment in