Local Black entrepreneurs have emerged as owners of the newest Black-owned beauty supply store in Ferguson, MO following protests over the killing of unarmed Black teen, Michael Brown by a white police officer.
Officer Darren Wilson was twice exonerated of any criminal wrongdoing, once in November by a local prosecutor and again in March by the U.S. Department of Justice.
The city has been in an uproar in response to this tragic killing and acquittals of Wilson. Several businesses were looted and burned including two Korean-owned beauty supply stores that have been a part of the community for many years.
Budding entrepreneurs, Mr. & Mrs. Gathungu, had been interested in beauty supply ownership for several years and felt it was as good a time as any.
“We know there is great opportunity in owning one of these stores. However, we didn’t quite know how to get into the business,” they said. “We decided to do some internet research and found that there was a conference in Atlanta coming up, hosted by Beauty Supply Institute. So we chose to make the long drive there and attend the 2-day conference. After that, we learned how to safely get into the business, so we did it.”
Their store opened after about 10 months of planning and preparation with the help of the Beauty Supply Institute that came in and did the groundwork for them. They assisted with finding the location, lease negotiation, store design, procurement of products, store setup and much more.
The Beauty Supply Institute was founded in 2008 by Professor Devin Robinson, a 3-time store owner who was once criminally profiled while shopping at a Korean-owned store himself.
The Institute worked with the Gathungus from the time they attended the conference in Atlanta in August 2014 until they were ready for business this past June.
The Gathungus signed their lease days apart from the verdict of Darren Wilson, the protests, negative media coverage and politic upheaval.
The couple said, “At no time did we fear failure because of what was taking place in Ferguson. We actually felt that our city could use some positive momentum. Once we saw the other stores destroyed, we knew that those looters of the other stores would eventually realize they needed somewhere to buy their beauty supplies.”
“We felt that we would now become their trusted source,” they said.
The Gathungu’s store is located at KZK Beauty Supply, 10865 W Florissant Ave, Ferguson, MO 63136.
For information on the beauty supply conference, go to www.BeautySupplyConference.com or call (404) 551-4398.