Hair for the WSJ

Matt Craig of the Wall Street Journal gave me a ring several weeks ago for a shoot about Dominican hair salons. Apparently they were posing significant competition to the African-American hair salons with less talk and speedier service. One of the ladies I talked to had been there for 4 hours already and wasn’t even done. “Speedier service?” I asked myself. I guess it’s all relative. I showed up the day before Easter and it was packed. I felt like a sardine in a school of mullet – a scrawny white male in the midst of a bunch of Latino and black women. It was hot and the fumes were intoxicating. But that’s what I like about this job, being thrown into totally foreign situations and navigating your way through. I took a deep breath and made some pictures.

Check it out here


Amanda Adams said...

Where did you have to go to shoot this? Did you go to the D.R.?

Drew said...

Really solid work. I agree with you on being thrown into foreign situations. Makes us better people and photogs right.

Patrice Johns said...

Hi Tim,
Thanks for this article. It motivate me to say what I've been wanting to say for a very long time. Here's what I posted on Facebook.

Why are Black salons losing what at one time was the most lucrative business for black women to Dominican salons? I suppose there are many reasons, but we should really examine what's happening and fix the problem.

In 2010 people in general are not willing to spend 5 or more hours in any one place, we are just to busy and are now accustomed to a world of technology that has decreased our wait for everything we do. Black salons have not, as of yet, figured out or in most cases cared about getting their clients in and out in a timely fashion. We as clients have dealt with a total disregard for our time. This has been demonstrated by our stylist arriving way after we arrive, eating their meals while sitting in the client chair, taking call after call (not to just schedule an appt) discussing outrages personal issues, watching tv, and what about putting that darn weave in while you're just sitting there with a wet head needing a 10 min roller set!! The list goes on and on.. Then after you've waited all day and watched the circus of events you pay up to 3 - 5 times more than you would at a Dominican salon.

Now when you visit our Dominican salons your experience may be very different. Welcome to the "hair assembly line process." Your expectations here may be slightly less due to the fact you're probably thinking, "how much can I ask for at only $15?" Yes, lower your expectations because who really knows what's in those shampoo and conditioner bottles. Yes, I know many of you bring your own products now, but again you don't ask for much with this great deal! In most cases you don't look to see if this person even has a state license of cosmetology on the wall. The fact is that the majority of these businesses employ individuals that have no formal certification, are not document residents and in many cases don't speak English. So much for explaining or being understood in regards to your hair care. Again, it's only $15 who needs a trained professional applying a lye based relaxer/color to their hair. How about giving that same person a blazing hot - smoking blow dryers, which will dry and straighten your hair in a blink of an eye. You'll need another deep conditioner before you leave since the previous one just got burned out.

Black salons you must get your act together! If you don't like the business anymore, get out. If you want to maintain your place in this wonderful industry, in which black women spend more than any other group of people, assess your business savvy and seek out the business and hair care training that you need to compete in today's market. What you know now is no longer sufficient to keep your clients happy, hair healthy and business successful. Seek out training and take time to learn about time management, customer service, business etiquette etc. Learn about the products that you are using so that you will understand which clients they are suitable for, if any. Hair product distributors offer all types of product and skills classes for free and at low rates. This is only the beginning of the fix. It may be good that you have some competition, we tend become complacent if no one standing in our face screaming for change.

Lastly, all of you ladies spending your money, whether it's $15 or $50 for a wash and set..speak up!! Stop letting these sisters take advantage of you and come back the next week for more of the same treatment. You deserve better!

Just a thought... Peace

See Wall Street Journal article on Hair Wars.

Gonzalo g. Arroyo said...

lovely pic and such an interesting blog.I´ll come back.


Tom McCarthy Jr. said...

nobody look real enthusiastic about being there. What kind of hair did did you get done?