Entrepreneurship sparks shift in African-American-owned beauty supply stores

BIRMINGHAM, AL (WBRC) - The African-American hair care market generates billions of dollars annually, but the representation in ownership doesn't reflect its customers. Many beauty supply stores in the African American community are largely owned by Korean-Americans.

With more black women tapping into entrepreneurship, we're starting to see a shift and some of the change is happening here locally. Jennifer Stewart-Campbell is the latest to join the hair care industry in Birmingham.

"I can remember saying OK Jennifer are you really crazy enough to open up a full store," said Stewart-Campbell.

But she was brave enough to take on the new journey. She opened J-Stew Beauty and More on 3rd Avenue West back in December. It's a beauty supply store with a salon attached to it.

"Being a female, beauty is a big thing and it's a very big part of our culture," she continued.

It's also a big business. The black hair market is multibillion-dollar industry but getting in the market isn't easy or cheap.

"We are self-funded, meaning there is no bank loan, we didn't get any help. This is all sweat equity, out of our pocket. You are literally standing in our pocket right now," Stewart-Campbell said with a smile.  "I just want to show the everyday entrepreneur that if you want to break out of Corporate America and you do have a dream that it possible to fulfill that dream without necessarily having to go into debt."

She said this dream took patience prayer and preparations. Her passion was fueled after several bad experiences in other beauty supply stores.

"Shopping at various beauty supply stores we were dealing with certain business owners who don't understand and can't help us with products. On top of that, beauty supplies are very expensive, so you get no refund, no exchange and no product knowledge prior to buying it either."

She's hoping to change that and so far, she believes she's on the right track after receiving a warm welcome from the community.

"The reception from the community has been, where have you been?  Oh my god, a salon attached to a beauty supply store.   Oh,  you know what you're talking about.  So it's been very, very great," Stewart-Campbell continued.

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