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Product placement; A new documentary has people talking about who controls the black hair-care market
[3 Edition]
Boston Globe - Boston, Mass.
Subjects: Documentary films; Asian Americans; African Americans; Motion pictures -- Black Hair; Health & beauty aids
Author: Jones, Vanessa E
Date: Oct 28, 2006
Start Page: D.1
Section: LivingArts
Abstract (Document Summary)

The Korean distributors maintain their presence, Ranen's documentary suggests, by relying on their language to exclude non-Korean customers. [Aron Ranen]'s film shows that the informational magazines handed out to the beauty supply stores are written in Korean. The store owners Ranen interviews complain that the distributors answer their phones in Korean and circulate product order sheets written in Korean. They also claim that the Korean distributors sell their goods to them at higher prices - if they sell to them at all.

It's difficult to get a response to these allegations from Koreans in the industry. Sensationnel, a major Korean-owned wig and extension distribution company in the United States, did not return a detailed phone message requesting an interview. When Korean owners of local beauty supply stores were asked about the documentary, they said they didn't know about it. When questioned about the Korean dominance in the industry, the response was silence or a shake of the head.

For most non-Korean beauty supply store owners, the biggest problem is acquiring the wigs, weaves, and extensions, says [Sam Ennon]. Although South Korea was once the largest supplier of hair to the United States, China surpassed South Korea in hair exports around 1993, according to the US Commerce Department. These days most packages of wigs, hair extensions, and weaves sold at beauty supply stores have the words "Made in China" stamped upon them. The problem, says Ennon, is that the Korean distributors who retain control over the business "bring hair from China but won't sell certain brands of hair" to non-Koreans. When Ranen shot his documentary, he says he found that the black-owned beauty supply stores were "poorly stocked."

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