Entrepreneurs Jeffrey and Sade discovered a market niche in Brownsville, where pharmacies like Rite Aid were the neighborhood’s only carriers of haircare and skincare products

Store owners Jeffrey and Sade met through the Brownsville Partnership, a local economic development program.

Despite grossing over $10 billion in sales annually, the beauty industry is fraught with barriers to enter and the constant risk of ever-evolving trends. But entrepreneurs Jeffrey and Sade discovered a market niche in Brownsville, where pharmacies like Rite Aid were few and far in between and the neighborhood’s only carriers of haircare and skincare products.

Their new store, Jeffrey Beauty Supply, opened its doors this past Thursday on the corner of Eastern Parkway and Saint Marks Avenue, supplying weaves, braids, wigs, hair color and other accessories. Sade said the store “caters to the full beauty spectrum,” but that 85 percent of the products target African-American customers.

“There’s a lot of money being spent by African Americans in this industry, especially women, and there’s just not as much representation in ownership,” said Sade. “So we wanted to take that challenge head on and start the tidal wave.”

In its first two days, Jeffrey Beauty Supply hosted in-store events with established beauty brands like Hair Krack and Shea Moisture.

Even as socio-cultural platforms like the annual CurlFest have kick-started powerful movements toward celebrating African-American hair – crimps, curls and all – the majority of beauty supply stores retailing hair weaves, curl creams and other products marketed to black women are owned by Korean-American entrepreneurs, who have dominated the market since the 1970s because of their close ties to Korean wholesalers.

It was after watching a documentary on the 2014 opening of the Flatbush-based Black Girls Divine Beauty Supply and Salon, owned by African-American sisters Judian and Kadeian Brown, that Jeffrey felt inspired to enter the beauty industry.

“I researched them and researched the obstacles that they had to go through,” Jeffrey says. “And it was all very discouraging. But I decided that this was what I wanted to do.”

Wall art on the far end of the store.

In the beauty industry, retailers compete on location, price point and product diversity. And while Jeffrey Beauty Supply serves a hyperlocal clientele that allows it to circumvent competition from big-name retailers, Sade admits to feeling the threat of franchises like Feel Beauty, whose nearest outlet is in Flatbush.

Being newly opened, the store’s inventory is limited and a few shelves were empty pending shipments due to arrive on Monday. “If you walk into a traditional beauty supply it’s ceiling to floor. It’s inundated with products,” she says. “We explained it to our customers and they’ve been very receptive to the fact that we’ll get there one day soon.”

A year ago, Jeffrey and Sade were strangers. The entrepreneurs met through the Brownsville Partnership, a program offered by the nonprofit Community Solutions, which is vested in local economic development through entrepreneurship. They found themselves paired together after responding to the same Facebook ad, and realized they had a common interest: business ownership and the beauty industry. They now run the business together part-time while juggling day jobs.

“I think when something is the scariest, that’s when you should do it,” Sade said. “So I decided to really push and make it happen. We’re getting there.”

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Kindra Cooper

Kindra Cooper is a freelance journalist and copy editor. She hails from Indonesia, where she wrote features for The Jakarta Post, Indonesia's largest English-language newspaper. Once in New York, she covered...

Join the Conversation

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  1. Sade is a longtime childhood friend who has always been committed, professional, and ambitious. I know this business will thrive and being a black entrepreneur myself, I intend to spend my money at this Gem.

    1. It’s actually Ocean Hill-Weeksville to be technical. Now that we have cleared that up, CONGRATS and wishing this business many years of progress & growth. I shall “SHOP IN” and show my support!

    2. Sorry it is Brownsville. Worked that area for 25 years. Crowns Heights starts on the west side of Ralph Ave.

  2. Congratulations on your new endeavors wishing you much success. This is one of my dreams in my area of upstate New York.

  3. I will be shopping there for everything. No matter what. I grew up in Brownsville. I currently live in Fresh Meadows Queens and I visit relatives in Brownsville often. Even if I need a Bobbi Pin I’m driving there.

    I support you!

  4. I give God,all the glory and honor that you guy’s had been able to meet .It all goes to say we never know who God, will send our way. I pray that you’ll will continue to process in your growth, finances and business as GOD,guide and lead you for many more opportunities to come. Amen

  5. Congratulations ??????????????It’s about time we people of color open up shops catering to us……. I’m happy that you guys are in business and I will refer people to you?????????

  6. I will be visiting this weekend. Love to support African American businesses. My daughter does natural hair and we are always looking for the correct products.

  7. Congrats! Next time I come from my hometown Brooklyn this summer I will be hitting you guys up. Support black businesses!

  8. May God’s grace be upon us all collectively and best of wishes to you and your new business contribution towards our economic freedom…Buy Black…All Praises are due to God…One

  9. I went in the other day and met them both. Very nice, very informative. A great place to shop and support. And they’re walking distance from my house which is wonderful! Congratulations to them on their new endeavor!

  10. Congratulations!! I will definitely be supporting you. I will also like to invite you to Afterwork Networking Wednesdays this evening July 26th at Trelawni Place Seafoof Bar and Grill 1440 Utica ave corner of Farragut road, where we encourage and promote support of Black owned businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs. It’s a monthly event, every last Wed of the month. I’m one of the cohost and also provide entertainment with the Major Damage Band.

  11. Congratulations…I will share the news of your store with everyone​ I know. And when I’m in the NYC area , I will patronize your business.
    Kudos !!!
    Andrea L. Gaye
    Vandy’s Interiors ( FB & Instagram)

  12. Congratulations on making a difference! I am also opening a beauty supply in my small town in Pa. I pray that God blesses you abundantly! We need to take control of this industry.

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