Photo courtesy CURLS
Mahisha Dellinger, founder and CEO of CURLS haircare brand, is looking to level the playing field for Black beauty supply store owners. She recently announced a new alliance to provide Black-owned stores access to products so they can stock their shelves and stay in business. CURLS’ “United We Stand: Strategic Alliance With Black-Owned Beauty Supply Stores” will create a distributor partnership with low purchasing minimums and extended payment terms. African Americans make up 86% of total sales on ethnic hair and beauty needs, yet Koreans have maintained a stronghold on the beauty market since the 1970s. It is not for a lack of want.
In much the same way viral videos highlight racism and mistreatment at stores not owned by African Americans, Black owners also face disparate treatment from distributors. They are often ignored and closed out from vendor resources and subjected to inequitable purchasing minimums that are double and triple of their competitors and fluctuate on any given day. This results in higher retail prices, less diverse inventory, and slower restocking options.
“This is not uncommon,” Dellinger tells the MSR. “The Korean-owned distributors aren’t the best to us and for us. They will mistreat us and give their people better products and better terms.”
She shared that a high school friend who launched a Black beauty supply store in Sacramento “stayed in business all of six months because she couldn’t get what she needed from Korean distributors.” She recalled another instance while taping her “Mind Your Business With Mahisha” series on OWN. Before shooting a scene at the popular Cave Girl LA franchise, she noticed the store only had one bottle of her product and nothing new from any other brands. She says owner Lia Dias told her the distributors claimed they did not have the products, though the Korean competitor across the street was being supplied. They also made Dias drive to pick up the products.
“That is unheard of,” said Dellinger. “For five years, she had been picking up her units and paying with a check versus getting terms.” Dellinger immediately helped Dias open an account with a distributor that would supply products. That is the same distributor Dellinger has partnered with for her new alliance. She shared that her partner is White-owned, “but they are willing to invest in us by being a collaborative and supportive partner.”
Through the partnership, owners will have access to CURLS and other top-tier brands to build their shelf space with no or lower purchasing minimums (as low as $250) and their payment terms will be extended from 30 to 45 days. They will also get one-on-one business coaching with Dellinger.
In addition, CURLS will host in-store events to help boost brand and store awareness, as well as promote the stores on their website, social media platforms, and via press. “We can support and grow these Black-owned beauty supply stores,” said Dellinger. “The question is how can we do that? This is how.”
The “United We Stand: Strategic Alliance With Black-Owned Beauty Supply Stores” is currently in development and is slated to launch in July. For more information, follow CURLS on Instagram and stay tuned to the MSR for launch details.