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Black Salons Face Competition from Dominican Stylists

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Lately, many African-American women have been fleeing Black salons in favor of Dominican establishments. The reason lies in the famed Dominican blowout technique, in which stylists give clients a wet roller set, sit them under a hairdryer for about forty-five minutes, and then smooth out the roller bumps with a vigorous blowdryer-and-round-brush combo. The result? Super-straight hair at a fraction of most Black salons' prices (Dominican blowouts can cost anywhere from $15 to $30). But with so many women going Dominican, where does that leave Black salons? According to a fascinating piece in The Wall Street Journal, the answer is grim. "It's hard enough in these times, but [Dominican salons] are undercutting our prices, even passing out fliers to our own clients," Atlanta hairdresser Jannifer Jackson told the newspaper. The situation has become so dire that last year, New Jersey-based hairstylist/barber Gina Brydie formed the National Black Cosmetology Association to help salons steel their business against increasing Dominican competition. "We have Asians coming in with the beauty supplies and Dominicans coming in and taking over our industry," Byrdie said in an interview with The Wall Street Journal. Many African-American hairstylists also take issue with the actual Dominican blowout technique, insisting that they use too much heat and yank the hair too hard while blowdrying, which results in breakage. "Let me tell you, they are helping my business because people are coming to me after the Dominicans make their hair fall out," says "Bad Boy" Romeo Crews, a prominent Atlanta hairstylist. On the flip side, some African-American salon owners have decided to capitalize on the Dominican salon craze. In 2007, hair product manufacturer Jennifer Drew started RoundBrushHair.com, a website featuring a database of Dominican salons and information on how they can market to Black clients. The site has become super-popular, including 80 salons in the Washington DC area, 95 in Georgia and 15 in North Carolina, but Drew has seen a lot of backlash from the African-American stylist community. "Some Black stylists hate on me, thinking I've crossed over to the other side," she says. What are your thoughts? Have you ever visited a Dominican salon -- and if so, was it a positive experience? Let us know in the comments section!
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