In a market dominated by cultural preferences, Black Americans have demonstrated a significant financial commitment to the beauty and haircare industry. According to the 2018 Nielsen report, African Americans spent $54 million on beauty and haircare products in 2017.

Despite the substantial spending power, Black entrepreneurs often struggle to own beauty supply stores as more than 70% of stores in the United States are owned by Korean Americans.

The hold Korean Americans have on this sector can be traced back to their control over the vast majority of the supply chain, from manufacturing to distribution and retail of hair extensions.

While owning a beauty supply store may be difficult for African Americans, it’s not impossible, especially for those who are familiar with breaking barriers. In 2002, George Mack became the second African American driver to participate in the Indianapolis 500—following in the footsteps of Willy T. Ribbs, the first African American to compete in the event in 1991.

Eventually, Mack’s desire to embrace his heritage led him to rebrand himself from George Mack to Baron Bey. Transitioning from racing to entrepreneurship, he founded Coast Auto Care and Tires, a venture that resonated with his automotive enthusiasm.

On this episode of “The Word with Jackie Rae,” Bey shares how he navigated the challenges of transitioning from a race car driver to a thriving beauty supply store owner. Bey believes his establishment, Long Beach Hair Gallery, at 1323 Long Beach Blvd., stands as a testament to his determination and the potential for African Americans to succeed in a market that may have once seemed impenetrable.

Long Beach Hair Gallery is open Monday to Saturday, from 9 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. Coast Auto Care and Tires, is at 550 E Pacific Coast Hwy, and is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturdays from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m.