The name Rudi Page is as synonymous with the UK black hair and beauty world as hair grease is to an afro. Rudi, former Sales and Marketing Manager for Dyke and Dryden Ltd. has been a pioneer in this arena for many years. It was an honour and indeed a pleasure to speak with him recently. Here we gain an insight into the legacy he has been a part of. Recently, Rudi opened the UK’s first association for ‘Afro Hair & Beauty’ in February 2018.
Rudi Page joined the UK afro hair and beauty giants Dyke and Dryden as a Sales Representative. Prior to this move to sales and marketing, Rudi had studied and worked in accounting. This gave him exposure to advertising agencies and marketing directors of medium and large companies. Rudi has fond memories of working with the first black British men to make millions, as afro hair and beauty retailers. Rudi credits this platform with giving him the opportunity to learn and apply marketing strategies.
How did UK black hair and beauty begin?
The Dyke and Dryden firm began in 60s England when the doors were not being held open for BME people. They started by providing a range of products and services from home, including cosmetics and hair products. This started as a stall at Ridley Road Market in East London and led to a chain of stores and warehouses. This brought alongside it increased fame and popularity.
The opportunity offered to Rudi was invaluable. Dyke and Dryden Ltd. enabled him to flourish, with mentoring and also business trips to the USA all taken care of by Len Dyke, Dudley Dryden and Tony Wade.
Dyke and Dryden paved the way for future BME entrepreneurs in black hair products and services. The issue at hand now is that these roads seem to be blocked again. We as BME people do not have a niche in our own market.
What can we do?
Rudi firmly believes that current entrepreneurs and salon owners need to collaborate. With quality products, good service, cultural understanding and also innovative marketing, they can regain market share. Good relations with stakeholders and a shared economic business model is most of all key. In this age of technology, the global market is only a click away from social media. Logistics and delivery options have also remarkably improved over the years and should be tapped into.
Rudi still works in the area of marketing and consultancy, particularly in the Caribbean arena. It is much easier nowadays as you can come up with a good idea and register the design and name with the Intellectual Property Office. This can earn future revenue and drive renewal.
Rudi is a strong believer that this generation should look back at the workshops, learning seminars and ethnic hair and beauty shows from the past. During the 1980s, Rudi was responsible for the development of the two largest showcases. Afro Hair & Beauty is one, which is now in its 35th year. Rudi also assisted with HairEX. This is celebrated as the first hair care and beauty showcase held at the Astoria Theatre in the West end of London in 1988.
The future of UK black hair and beauty
We asked Rudi “how new businesses can enter the Afro Hair and Beauty world and not sell out?”. The answer, they need to produce quality products as well as respect their ethnic consumers. Collaboration is especially relevant. Social responsibility is paramount, businesses need to contribute to the communities they serve, in order to get full support in return. Dyke and Dryden regularly gave back to the people they served. This included at the time giving free tutorials on black hair care at Barnardo’s children’s home.
What next Rudi for UK black hair and beauty?
It doesn’t stop here. Rudi is planning an event surrounding afro hair and beauty and its influencers. Named the HairEx Forum, it will be a platform for recognising the legends of the afro hair and beauty industry and their contribution. In addition, the event aims at inspiring the current and future generation by sharing experience and knowledge.
A final word from Rudi
Rudi has named the mantras he lives by. Quite simply but profoundly put, these are determination, discipline, character, courage and faith. It is certainly evident in Rudi’s history and in the present, that he adheres to these in their entirety.
What are your thoughts on Rudi’s comments about UK black hair and beauty? Leave us a comment below and share this interview.
Join Rudi Page and friends at HairEX LIVE – Saturday 13 June, London
Showcasing young designers inspired by African heritage, culture, aesthetics, sustainability and common wealth.
An opportunity to learn from Derek “DeCutter” Clement about the Principles of Afro Hair Design, Colouring, Cutting, Styling & Finishing for Advertising, Celebrities and Social Media.
Click here to register.