Written by: Ayana Jones
Asya Richardson often wears hair from her Indian Princess line. — ABDUL SULAYMAN/TRIBUNE PHOTO CHIEF
While African-American women are the dominating consumers of the multi-billion dollar hair extension industry, it’s a rarity to find them on the business side.
Asya Richardson opted to tap into the thriving industry by launching Indian Princess Hair — a line of imported hair extensions.
Indian Princess features hair imported directly from the temples of India. The company features two product lines — the Red Carpet line, an unprocessed virgin Indian hair that comes in wavy and curly textures; and the Ready to Wear line of Burmese virgin hair, which is a blend of Indian and Chinese hair. The Ready to Wear line features three textures: exotic silk straight, exotic waterfall wave and exotic safari curl.
An obsession with hair and fashion led Richardson to start searching for a hair of premium quality. She frequently had to purchase and replace her hair extensions because the quality was lacking.
“After a few weeks, they would start to mat up, get dry and look dull,” says Richardson, 32, who studied broadcast communications at Temple University.
“I was just so obsessed with my hair that I kept going back and spending money over and over again to buy new hair.”
Those experiences were a factor in leading Richardson to start her own business.
When she was a former radio ad salesperson, Richardson interacted with key personnel in the hair care industry. Those relationships would later prove instrumental in helping her break into the hair extension business.
Back in 2008, Richardson invested $1,600 into her first shipment of hair, and started out by selling to her friends and family members.
Over time she started getting calls from women in Philadelphia, New Jersey and Washington, D.C. By 2009, demand for the product grew and she needed to launch a website www.indianprincesshair.com to take orders.
She wasn’t daunted by the prospect of having to compete with beauty supply stores and other retailers who sold hair weaves.
“My specific niche that I’ve carried out in the industry is that the quality of hair I found is not found at the beauty supply stores. I have something totally different from what they are selling,” Richardson asserts.
Richardson’s hair goes for upwards of $280 a pack for a 20-inch track and most styles require at least two tracks. While this seems like a pricey investment, Richardson says the product — which is taken off for styling and washing — can be worn for more than a year. With that in mind, Richardson says clients won’t have to purchase hair as often.
She encourages other African-American women to consider entering the hair care industry.
“This is something that I would like to see more of us get into. We always express ourselves through hair,” says Richardson. “There are so many different aspects of the hair care industry. There are so many different angles that you can get into in this hair business and flourish.”
Now Richardson is reaching out to area salons to encourage them to purchase hair products for their clients.
The product has caught the interest of Aisha Murphy, co-owner of the Philadelphia-based Ebauche Envogue Hair Salon. Murphy plans to start carrying Indian Princess Hair at the salon by the end of October.
After recently trying the weave for the first time, Murphy said she was impressed with the quality of the product. Murphy said she tests products prior to offering them to her clientele.
“I’ve very satisfied. I’ve been using and installing weaves for a long time, and I’ve never seen anything like it,” Murphy said.
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