Segregation in the Salon Industry

Is the hair industry segregated? Being the owner of a high-end, full service, multicultural salon, I’m very familiar with this ideology. I’ve been working in the industry for over twenty years and come from a family of cosmetologists and barbers. My family owned a small hair salon, which made me have the desire to someday own a salon; a full-service salon that catered to everyone.

I was having a discussion with a client about the label salons receive based on race. He indicated that indeed the hair industry is segregated. He stated that the hair industry and the church are two sectors where segregation exists still today. Some people don’t think that a Caucasian stylist is capable of or has the understanding and artistic ability of being able to service ethnic hair. The same is also thought of in regards to an ethnic stylist. The assumption is that a stylist of a certain ethnicity is proficient with their artist ability pertaining only to their race. This myth and belief is far from the truth but this is what the salon industry deals with continually in the society that we are living in.

My salon has a diverse staff that is considered the best in the industry because of their diversity in skill set and ability to service all hair types. In today’s age, you would not think segregation still exists but to a degree it still does. It’s nothing like compared to the 1950s and 1960s, but salons are still being labeled as “white” salons, “black” salons, etc.

Is it fair to think that the industry in a whole has allowed this thought process to continue? I don’t think a client walking into a professional salon should have to ask the question of whether or not that salon can service a particular hair type. Either that client has had a bad experience or knows of someone that has. This all needs to be addressed during the training, certification, and licensing phases of all cosmetologists.

When I decided to open my salon I had in mind to have a multicultural salon. It was from my experience that this was not the norm. However, from a business stand point, I saw this concept as a no brainer.

Once a client, regardless the ethnicity, sits down in a stylist’s chair to be serviced and the end product is revealed, there should be no apprehension or uncertainty by the client because of ethnicity. The focus now is to erase the stereotype salons have inherited over the years and educate people about hair and not race. It’s a challenging task but it can be achieved.