For All Points-Of-The-View.
Over the past 10 years there has been much discussion among African Americans about the Korean takeover of the Black Hair industry. However, while others talk about it, Tyrone Barge is busy doing something about it!
Barge and his company, AWNI Enterprises, LLC, have recently launched a new line of hair produced specifically for people of color. Barge’s journey began 13 years ago, when he financed his sister’s North Philadelphia beauty salon, “Life Styles.” Although he was new to the hair business, he was very observant and witnessed something that disturbed him. When women came to the shop for weaves, the cosmetologists would take the clients to the Korean-owned beauty supply store to purchase the hair needed. A contractor by trade, Barge is a successful, astute businessman who felt there was something inherently wrong with that scenario. According to “The Korean Takeover of the Black Hair Industry,” a documentary by Aron Ranen, African American women are 10 percent of the population but account for 70 percent of weave hair purchases which equates to an estimated $15 billion per year.
Like any smart businessperson, Barge sought to remove the middleman and access the product directly. Boy was he in for a shock! After calling around, he made contact with the distributor of Outre, a popular line of hair sold in Korean beauty supply stores.
“He asked me was I Black,” he explained. “When I replied yes, he told me they didn’t sell to niggas! He told me it would be bad for business if they sold the hair to Black people wholesale because we are their biggest consumers. His insult gave me the motivation to develop my own hair product.”
Barge researched the amount of weaves done at Life Styles and several other hair salons. Based on an average of 10 weaves per week, he estimated that African American salon owners lose about $2,000 per month.
For several years Barge went to China to see about buying the hair directly. Although he was received favorably, the Chinese would not do business with him. Barge said business in China is conducted over food and drinks. “I didn’t want to insult my hosts,” he explained. “So, I came back home and immersed myself in learning about Chinese culture. When I returned to China I was welcomed with open arms after eating and drinking with my hosts who agreed to work with me to produce the hair. I struck a deal to import 100 percent human hair from India and established my own factory in China to produce the hair. It took eight long years of going back and forth, but it was worth it.”
Barge’s sister Sheila, who accompanied him to China, worked with the Chinese to make sure the hair would blend with all textures of hair. The result was a superior brand of hair that looks natural, without the fake, synthetic look of the hair sold by Koreans. The AWNI Collection includes “Natural Mink,” “Remi Silk,” “Supreme Yaki” and “Yaki.” Unlike the hair sold by Koreans, each package of AWNI hair is consistent in quality and quantity. It can be washed, colored and styled like your own hair. AWNI stands for “A Whole New Image” and that’s exactly what Barge has created. However, he’s also about creating a whole new image of African American consumers supporting African American businesses.
The AWNI Collection is only sold retail in Black-owned beauty salons. Barge is also negotiating with historic Berean Institute to sell the hair retail through their cosmetology program. It will not be sold in beauty supply stores.
Barge is one who lives by the Kwanzaa principles of unity and collective economics. “I view AWNI as a way to empower African Americans in the hair business. The insult from the Korean distributor and the movie “American Gangster” is what motivated me to move forward. I felt that if the character Denzel played could go to China to conduct drug business that would destroy African American people and communities, I could go to China to craft a deal that will empower African Americans.”
“It’s really about unification,” he said. “We are already successful. It’s about us making a conscious decision about how we spend our dollars and taking back control of this industry to reap the benefits. It’s really not a personal thing. I want to show salon owners and stylists how they can make money. I want to empower us economically and for us to understand the true power of our dollar. In the last eight years Life Styles Hair Salon has lost about $100,000 per year. Since selling our own hair we have reduced that amount by approximately 50 percent. With African-American businesses unifying we can make it 100 percent. By us coming together it would allow us to expand the AWNI brand and carry all types of the AWNI hair. I want to negate the myth that African Americans can’t work together.”
Barge has made a good start, but his work is not finished. He wants to expand his plan to empower African Americans beyond salon owners. His five year strategic plan for the Philadelphia-based AWNI Enterprises includes establishing a hair factory in a building he owns in North Philadelphia so he can employ African Americans in his community producing AWNI products. As the old saying goes, “God bless the child that’s got his own” and Tyrone Barge has got it!
AWNI Enterprises is launching their hair collection through several new product seminars. Salon owners and hairstylists are invited to come see, feel and experience the AWNI Collection at their first seminar 10:00AM, Monday, April 9 at Treasures located at 5549 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia.
To register for the seminar call Cyndy at 215-275-7641.
For inquiries about wholesale orders call 1-866/794-2964 or check out the website at www.awniproducts.com.
100% Human Hair
AWNI Collection ™ introduces Natural Mink. The finest line of 100% human hair contrives in the industry. Experience the control of the most luxurious 100% human hair which provides all of the bounce and silkiness you have always wanted.
100% Human Hair
AWNI Collection™ introduces Remi Silk Simply Divine the finest line of 100% human hair contrived in the industry. Experience the control of the most luxurious 100% human hair which provides all of the silkiness you have always wanted.
100% Human Hair
AWNI Collection™ introduces Simply Divine Supreme Yaki the finest line of 100% human hair contrived in the industry. Experience the control of the most luxurious 100% human hair which provides all of the bounce and silkiness you have always wanted.
100% Human Hair
AWNI Collection™ introduces Simply Divine Yaki the finest line of 100% human hair contrived in the industry. Experience the control of the most luxurious 100% human hair which provides all of pin, feathered and loose body wave curls that you have always wanted.
Photo caption: Tyrone Barge, CEO of AWNI Enterprises, LLC meets with business partners in China
Self-Hatred = Our Continued Enslavement and They Laugh All The Way To The Bank. Fake Can Never A Beauty Make!!! When do we concentrate on our Natural Hair, given to us by Our Creator, instead of Fake, Fake, Fake. Fake, Imitation Hair, Fake, Imitation Nails, Fake, Imitation People. Africans Will Never Experience Freeness, Empowerment and Independence, Africans Will Forever Be Enslaved as long as we continue to follow our Oppressors. The Physical Chains of Slavery were removed once Our Minds were Thoroughly Enslaved. The same as once a dog is trained, the leash is removed. This Is Self-Hatred, Not Empowerment, It Is Continued Enslavement. The Chinese Are Still Making a Fortune Off The Self-Hatred of African People, Men and Women. The women in the ad look like aliens from outer space instead of Real African Women. Free Your Mind, Your Body Will Follow!!!
I have worn my hair natural for over 35 years. However, not everyone is going to wear their hair natural. If they are going to wear weaves I say, wear a weave that matches your hair and buy it from a Black person. I applaud the brother because the Koreans took over the Black hair business years ago -- not just weave hair and wigs -- but shampoos, conditioners, etc. They own all the beauty supply stores. These products have a Black face on the label, but in fact, are made and owned by Koreans. Barge, OWNS the factory in China. He is producing his own product that will be sold only in Black salons. The brother is about practicing collective economics. Did you read the entire story or just react to the weaves? How are the asians laughing all the way to the bank when the brother OWNS the factory and is producing and selling his own product?
I know many folks that wear locs, braids, afros and african clothing, but are just as white-minded as any white person. Looks don't mean a thing! Likewise, I know sisters who have perms, wear wigs and weaves, but are on the front lines when the call goes out to stand up for Black people. There are also many Iyas in the Orisha tradition who have perms. It's not what's on your head, but what's IN your head. We ALL suffer from Post-traumatic Slavery Syndrome -- including YOU.
Have you seen "real" African women from the Motherland lately? Perms, wigs and weaves.
I ask everyone who is critical -- what have YOU done to support a Black business today? Are YOU practicing collective economics? Do you walk the walk or just talk the talk? When you can provide for your family by working for yourself -- That's free. When you can help other Black people in your community make it -- that's Free! Talk is cheap. How free are YOU?
Free Enough to Know, We Will Never Be Free Until We Return To Ourselves and Yes, I Am Critical Because We Have Become Our Own Worst Enemy!!! Many Will Disagree With My Assessment, I Expect and Except Disagreement. Still I Will Speak What Others Refuse To Face. Until We Can Look In A Mirror and Accept Ourselves As Our Creator Made Us, We Will Remain Enslaved. Living A Lie Will Never Free Us!!!
Brother Please ! I presume you are a brother. I don't know how old you are , but I suggest you check out the history of Black hair, which comes in many different textures. They wore wigs and make-up in ancient Kemet. Matter of fact they INVENTED make-up and wigs! Just because you adorn yourself, doesn't mean you can't except who Olodumare made you. Bottom line -- we ALL, including YOU, have been affected by 400 years of slavery, a system/society that holds the white woman up as the epitome of beauty and european culture as the bases for everything.
I don't like wigs, weaves or perms either and I understand about the self-image issues. I don't disagree with you on that. It's subliminal seduction. However, this is about economics. The Black beauty industry in the U.S. was ours -- starting with Madame G. J. Walker in the 1800s. Koreans took it over beginning in the 1980s. In Philadelphia, there was a Black company that produced a line of scalp oinyments (Vita D which included vitamin D because the brother/chemist made a formula to grow healthy hair) or "Hair grease" as we called it back in the day. LOL! It was founded and owned by a Black chemist and his son. I met them when I worked for a Black ad agency in the 80s. The products that they created were excellent -- superior to many of the leading hair products. there were many companies like that. White folks and others didn't produce products for our hair, so we did.
Then Koreans infiltrated and took over the industry -- copying Black products, opening a lot of beauty supply stores, refusing to carry Black-owned products and refusing to sell to Black businesses wholesale. I know many Black men and women that made good money, took care of their families and contributed to the community because of Black beauty industry before that. It's about time some African Americans step up to take it back!
Walking around with "natural hair" (whatever you define that as) while others control the products we use and the economics in our communities is not my idea of being "FREE." Being free is when YOU control the economics in your community and can employ your own people. Being free is supporting Black businesses and helping that money circulate many times in our communities before leaving Black hands for others. Being "FREE" is being self-sufficient, being able to look how you want to look and be who you want to be regardless of what someone else thinks.
You talk about being free. How free are YOU? Think about it.
The majority of African Women who wear weaves, wigs, fake braids, etc have never heard of Kemet. Yes, in Ancient Kemet wigs and make-up was worn while they were secure in the knowledge of who they were and their self-worth. When an African Sister says to me "I don't want my hair to get knappy", when I hear an African Mother say to her daughter "you can't go outside with your hair knappy like that", when I see and hear an African Mother berating her 8 year old daughter in publc because her hair is "just too knappy", causing all the other women and young girls to laugh at her, when an African Daughter tells her own African Mother "you can't come to my wedding unless you straighten those knaps", when I hear young African Brothers laughing and denigrating a young African Sister, saying her hair looks like brillo, when I see 2 and 3 year old babies with a head full of fake hair put on by their Mothers, thereby learning straight out of the womb, that their natural hair is not good enough, when I see 8 and 9 year old girls with heads full of fake hair while laughing at and ridiculing young girls who wear their natural hair, that's total lack of Knowledge of Self, Self-Hatred. Knowledge of Self breeds Self-Sufficiency, which is the Key to Our Survival. A Free People controls their own Economics, Education, Land, Food, Water, Commerce, Transportation, etc., all the things needed to sustain themselves as a People. There was a time when we supplied much of what we needed and supported each other, i.e Black stores, insurance companies, attorneys, doctors, because we had no other choice. We marched and forced them to allow us "to sit on their toilet seats". Now, we no longer even attempt to get a toilet seat of our own. My Mother always said "don't go where you are not wanted". Force someone who insults and disrepects me, to do business with me, I don't think so. They still insult and disrepect while taking your money. How do we step up and take back Ourselves when our Women hate themselves? You can't hate the tree and not hate the fruit of the tree. Women are the backbone of any Nation, the Women set the tone, the Men and Children follow. Heal A Woman, Heal A Nation. When do we disavow these illusions which have kept us hating and distrusting ourselves and each other. When do we take back ourselves and teach our children self-love, so they stop killing each other and being cannon fodder for the prison systems. Homosexuality is rampant among our young people. Abortion is rampant in our communities. How will we survive as a People. There are many "Leaders" in our communities but where have they led us? I am constantly trying to get the Africans in my community to support a group of African Farmers, whom they pass by on their way to the Supermarket which, of course, is owned by others. Yet, they will not stop to purchase fresh, homegrown, nutritious food from Farmers who look like them, they prefer to go to the supermarket and spend their hard earned money on genetically engineered, chemical laden, processed "food", which in turn makes them ill, while enriching others. I will not discuss Madame C. J. Walker and her effect upon the minds of African Women in this country. We are not in Ancient Kemet. The colonization of our minds is in full effect. I know that I'm in an insane society, therefore, I too am insane. Yet, I'm convinced we can be economically viable while enhancing and rejoicing in our natural beauty. I make hair and skin products using natural ingredients from Mother Earth and inform My People about the life sustaining abilities of the gifts of Mother Earth. Our People are Out of Balance. Once again, I state, unless we return to Ourselves, regain our Balance, we are lost. Let us agree to disagree. Maat-Hotep!!!
I agree with you. I'm over 50. I remember those days. Are you a woman? I ask that because Black men suffer from self-hatred too, so don't put it all on the sisters. Everyone is out of balance. the World is out of balance. We live in a world where money gives you the power to do what you want. Business is not personal. Successful business people know that. Each business has their own niche. Yours is healthy skin products. Do you purchase all of your ingredients and packaging items from other Black businesses?
That being said, there's nothing wrong with a Black person taking back control and divert that money into Black hands -- a billion dollar industry! Somebody Black BETTER keep that money from going to the Koreans. I'm glad the brother stepped up. And, I wish you success in your business. I want ALL of us to be successful in our business ventures! That's what I'm talking about.
Peace & Power
Hi Iva & Phoenix Rising , My name is MyAsia Reid, an AWNI Representative. I came across this debate, and Id like to invite both of you to the AWNI Quality of Life Hair Seminar on April 9th, 2012 at am. The event is at Treasures on the Avenue located at 5549 Germantown Avenue, Philadelphia, Pa. Please give me Cyndi a call at 215-275-7641. We would like to extend both of you a free invitation to the Seminar. Thanks so much! Peace and Love!