This Black-owned beauty supply store on Western Ave. and Washington Blvd. has products for men and women, and serves as a cultural center.
Rebecca Opong, who is from Ghana, opened African Image Beauty Supply and Salon in 1987. The store sells products for both men and women. Photo by Jason Lewis
Rebecca Opong entered a market place over 30 years ago where few Black entrepreneurs could be found. She opened African Image Beauty Supply and Salon in 1987 to fill a need in her community.
“We saw that Black people needed Black products, but only Asians were selling them,” she said.
While the Asian-owned beauty supply stores can create a Black image for their shops, Opong is living it, and sharing it with her customer base. She is from Ghana, and her store has an authentic Afrocentric vibe that her customers appreciate and embrace.
African Image Beauty Supply and Salon is a cultural center, as they host events that bring together vendors, stylists, and hair-care experts to discuss the latest trends. These events feature live music, spoken word, and art.
“Every Black woman who comes here, they are so happy and they come back again,” she said. “They are happy because they don’t find so many of us (Black people who own beauty supply stores). I’ve been in business for over 30 years, so I’m well established here. When they see me here, they’re so happy to see a Black woman doing this. So we have a lot of repeat customers.”
This beauty supply store sells shampoos, conditioners, lotions, and other products that are specifically made for Black people. While many of the customers are women, this store has many products for men, including shaving creams, oils for beards, brushes, picks, and stocking caps.
As a Black woman, Opong has a great understanding of the Black hair industry and trends. She has noticed a welcomed change, as many Black women have joined the natural hair moment.
“Women want natural things for their hair,” she said. “Women don’t want to use chemicals as much. We used to sell a lot of relaxers, but now it has slowed down because women are wearing their hair natural now.”
In the salon portion of the store, they have hair stylist who work with natural hair, and they also do braids and weaves. The store sells braids, ponytails, human hair, and wigs.
The store also serves as a cultural center for people who follow the Black hair industry. They host events that bring together vendors, stylists, and hair-care experts to discuss the latest trends. These events feature live music and spoken word.
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