The other day I had a fleeting thought as I scrolled through Instagram aimlessly looking at hair pics and stylist’s videos. “I should get my hair done!”
The thought entered my mind and left just as quickly because the process of what that would entail is not something I was ready to undertake.
You know how it is right? We have to figure out the style we want, then we would have to literally hunt down a great stylist to get it done.
In theory, the process isn’t hard, it might mean looking through Instagram at hashtags, searching through posts and talking to other women who might just have some trustworthy referrals.
In reality though getting from the point of wanting to get our hair done to the moment of booking the appointment isn’t always THAT easy especially when you are looking for a new stylist.
Why is that?
The black hair industry is very different from years ago! It now overwhelming includes women with natural hair who are no longer interested in relaxers.
It also includes women who want to use protective styles to keep their hair healthy and other women who want to enter a salon without fear of being overcharged, told that their hair is difficult to manage and who do not want their hair damaged by inexperienced professionals.
The other day I asked you all about your salon horror stories and from your very candid responses I was able to identify some of our main issues, many of which I have personally encountered in my own hair story.
Here is one response that spoke about poor service:
“Scheduled appt at a new shop to get my hair cut short. Arrived and signed in. Sat unhelped for almost an hour. No one greeted me, asked who my appt was with, nothing. “Regulars” came in got escorted to a chair immediately.
When I got up and left a stylist ran out after me and finally asked if I had an appointment. I told him that I did and their lack of customer service is why I will never book another one.
It is indicative of the service or lack thereof that I have always witnessed in black salons. It was literally my last visit to a salon and that was back in 2007. Thankfully I didn’t have the horror of them screwing up my head.”
There were other women who spoke about being charged more because their hair was thicker and others who have experienced hair loss due to bad braiding techniques. One of you even made the poignant point that going to a white salon to avoid the issues isn’t the answer as many would suggest:
“Going to white salons isn’t the alternative choice for the bad business practices that go on in black salons.
Avoiding salons is what many of us wind up doing. I’d gladly pay a good price if I got the good service that should go along with it.
Stylists aren’t listening to their customers. I only ever went to one salon more than once because all the others didn’t provide a service that fosters loyalty. Black businesses can’t demand our support if they aren’t willing to do their part.”
At the end of the day, the issues are real and not just common for salons, there are horror stories with braiders and freelance stylists that we all have experiences with as well which have lead to many of us making the decision to stay away from stylists all together.
The truth is staying away from your local freelance braider, mobile stylist or salon doesn’t help the industry flourish.
With all of the horror stories we have documented there are some dope stylists that are making massive efforts at documenting their great work and service creating salon environments that you and I can be proud of.
Stylists are listening and the salon experience is changing as we hold professionals accountable and they, in turn, add more value to the industry.
There are women and men out there that have unlocked the magic that make their services successful and who have invested in themselves so that they are always learning and teaching other stylists the basics of proper hair care across all hair types including natural hair and locs.
In my experience, the issue is bad service on one hand and fragmentation of great stylists and braiders on the other hand. The industry needs to give us ways to identify great stylists and braiders outside of the vast world of just social media.
With that said, taking cues from the stylists that are doing it right, there are businesses that have figured out ways to make it easier for us to connect to some of the best stylists around and my job is to ensure that you are aware of them.
Insert The Bantu App! The Bantu app company is a black owned organization that I am very excited about because they are on a mission to transform the industry through expert technology focused on the needs of black women.
This company is dedicated to connecting black women to a large pool of quality hair stylists and helping these stylists expand their businesses.
Founders John Eke and Meron Berhe know first hand that black women outspend any other demographic when it comes to hair care products and services. They also know that we struggle to have our needs met by a majority of salons.
How Bantu is changing the game
The effect that technology has had on the hair industry within the last few years is hard to ignore. There has been a huge push to improve the relationship between stylists and clients by making it easier for you and me to find the right stylist to suit our needs.
Apps like Bantu specializes in targeting the right hairdresser for you using proximity, price, rating, or hair style all of which are things we consider when looking for a stylist. For instance, if you are searching for the closest faux loc specialist whether at home or in a salon with pricing under $100 you can put those details in the app and find exactly who you need.
This is where the turning point begins because as they remain 100% committed to sourcing quality stylists for woman with Kinky, coily, or curly hair we can get to the point being 100% comfortable to sit in the stylist chair.
The future is bright! Together we can claim and own our beauty, avoid the pitfalls and reduce the horror stories we are often forced to tell because we have more resources now than we ever had before.
It should not be difficult for us to find great stylists and support them whenever we can and the women and men committed to making the hair industry better deserve to reap the benefits of expanded businesses.
The Bantu App helps to bring everything positive about the black hair experience into one place just the way it should be, and for that, we are very grateful. Next time you think about finding a stylist download Bantu here for iPhone, and here for Android.