The recent incident at Peckham Hair & Cosmetics has reignited conversation about the politics of black beauty supply stores. There have even been calls to boycott non-black-owned hair supply stores due to a long history of bad experiences in hair shops. From racial profiling to toxic hair products, hair shops are often a contradictory place to be in as a black woman.
I have fond childhood memories of going to the beauty supply store as a child. My mum would buy Pink lotion and those hair ties with those multicoloured beads, picking which colour I would have that week for school. As I got older, buying my own hair products and packs of braiding hair, I began to notice the suspicion of shop owners in places I had been going to since I was a little girl. It is odd for owners to be suspicious of their customer base. Being followed around John Lewis or H&M was always one thing, but the hair store?
So, why is it that experiences in black hair stores are often steeped in anti-blackness? Perhaps because most hair shops are not owned by black people. A majority of these stores are owned by South Asian business owners. No one can actually pinpoint when and why this occurred, but it was not always the case.