Some of the ‘Moor Queens’ at the black hair and beauty hub, Moor Hair in London talk to us about the history of the Moors,?knowledgeable black staff, the power of group economics, and advice for people who want to start a hair business.
*Update 08/05/2019 The physical store is currently closed, however, you can shop online. www.moorhair.co.uk
The?family business owners of Moor Hair, specialise in the sale and education of natural hair care products. A team of black women, who all know about natural hair, run the shop.
?Your hair is the crown that you never take off, so treat it with love?
Moor Hair Black Owned Black Hair Shop,?The Moors
The Black African Moors conquered Spain, in Europe and ruled it for 700 years between the years 711 and 1492. The Moors were black Muslims who swept in from Africa to civilise part of Europe. ‘Black’ or ‘dark’ is the meaning of the word Moor, given to the Muslim people from North Africa.?They helped with sanitation, education, they introduced advanced agriculture and science. Most of all, they were never enslaved.
The family looked into the history and decided on the name which puts black people in history, in a positive light.
The decision to open a hair shop came when a number of the women in the family?started to embrace their natural hair texture. In doing so, they were struggling to find natural products and consequently became ?product junkies? because of a lack of knowledge on the high street. Therefore, Moor Hair is the solution to the challenge to find natural products and provide education on natural hair care. The family figured that other women were also having this problem.
Having a brick and mortar shop, rather than retailing online allows the team to have events, and raise their profile in person. What makes this hair shop distinctive is that it is a hub. ?It is a requirement that the team know the products to educate their customers. The age range of customers varies, from their regular six-year-old to the older customers who visit and ask questions, to one of the ‘Moor Queens’ 98-year-old great-grandmother.
The company is very particular about the brands that they stock. Even where they stock the popular brands that customers request, they review the ingredients to make sure they are sulphate free. They once had a complaint from a customer for not selling hair grease. They said, “grease contains lanolin derived from sheep”, which does not align with their vision.
One of the team members even has a list of sulphates and parabens – so the ladies know their stuff. They feel that it is important that information is available and the staff are knowledgeable, for customers who show interest.
Another staff member commented that ?even though I haven’t used half of the products, I can talk about the ingredients or brand and share my thoughts and knowledge on that instead”. She also said,?”customers trust us, it’s a big responsibility but it comes pretty easily?.
As well as sharing their knowledge of products and hosting events, the black-owned business advocate group economics.?Moor Hair pride themselves on collaborating and supporting other black businesses. They stock hair extensions from hair retailer XSandy?s Hair and Cosmetics, London. They support and stock new independent brands such as Jim + Henry, owned by Birmingham entrepreneur Tammy Facey, and men?s grooming range by?Shear and Shine, by founders Aaron Wallace and Lina A Mtengeti-Gadi.
Why are there so few black hair shops?
We discussed the lack of black-owned hair shops and the answer: ?Money talks“.
Ultimately,?products are sold in large containers by one company brand. It is costly for small retailers to make such purchases in large quantities. This would mean that the unit cost price would be lower and therefore the retail price to customers.
Black businesses also have issues with distributors. The wholesale prices that a black business buy products, resemble the retail prices that the large competitors sell the same product. This means competitors are getting a lower wholesale price. At the Afro Hair Show earlier this year, the staff, expecting to meet the company brand representatives?were given business cards for distributors of the brands who are not representative of their consumers.
?Something has to give?, one of the Moor Queens says during our challenging, Nevisian connection style WhatsApp call. “There is enough space. People go into different shops for different reasons. Rather than competing, everyone needs to pull together to pull each other up?. Just like the NFL football player Colin Kaepernick, who made a point for what he believes in about the racial injustice in America, she says ?one person kneels, then everyone else follows?.?Kaepernick decided to kneel during the national anthem, to demonstrate police brutality and injustices towards black people. Since then, several players have also protested against the playing of the national anthem.
According to the Courier?s Paper, ?Pak?s, for example, maintains a store policy to point customers to best-selling items rather than offer personalised advice?. Moor Hair differ, as they feel that employing black staff benefits customers because they have experience of the products, and the ladies come with their own knowledge.
In this video, Sharmadean Reid, founder of WAH Nails gave tips to businesswomen on creating a clear vision for their brand. She said, employees should agree with your vision and you should inspire people to want to join your company. The Moor Hair Queens agreed. ?I joined the team because I’m passionate about giving back to our community and supporting black-owned businesses. I’m blessed, the girls I work with are just as passionate and we all have our benefits so it’s a good little team?.
About the managers, a team member said they have a ?genuine interest in the business and the staff?. Her mother saw her working, at the Moor Hair head wrap workshop. She said, ?my mum was watching me and at the end of the night she said we are like a little family”.
She adds, “it’s not just work it’s more than that, it’s an opportunity to be part of something bigger than us. We are all rooting for the businesses success?.
?The customers are also a benefit, having customers come in and share the same views as you is big. Having customers come in and say…they’re here to support us. It’s lovely to see and be apart of?.
?The events are a huge benefit, what other hair shop is doing events?? Moor Hair has male customers too ?We’ve had a father come in and ask when we will be doing an event to teach men how to do their daughter’s hair?.
The team offer tips of advice to people who want to open a hair shop
- Be brave and do it, stick to it and be aware.
- Be realistic. It?s a lot of hard work.
- Budget well by doing research into business rates, overheads, and how much you have to earn.
- Location is key but be mindful that a good location comes at a price.
- Do not worry about rival shops because people will come because of the benefits your company can offer.
- Ask for help and advice from the experts in the industry. Email or call Moor Hair firstname.lastname@example.org or 07583 089 687 for advice.
- Hire dedicated staff.
- Be a part of social change in the hair care industry.
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