Hair! Hair! - Beauty providers say they keep the economy spiky

May 24, 2016
Some of Smith's wigs on display
Patrick Planter/ Photographer Andrene Smith argues that importation of hair extensions has been responsible for the employment of many Jamaicans.
Patrick Planter/ Photographer Andrene Smith argues that importation of hair extensions has been responsible for the employment of many Jamaicans.
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Some players in the beauty industry say they should be recognised for the contribution they make to Jamaica's economy.

The price tag for the importation of wigs and weaves hit $1 billion in 2013, due mainly to a huge demand for hair extensions.

Hair supplier of five years, Andrene Smith, argues that the importation of hair extensions has been responsible for the employment of many Jamaicans.

"Because of this industry, people like me that have a degree, who can't be employed, we are able to create our own jobs and, by doing so, we also able create jobs for others," said Smith.

The entrepreneur, who operates under the brand Weave Darling, said the growth of virgin hair extension in Jamaica has been responsible for an increase in hair stylists, and also with new businesses geared specifically towards hair extensions.

"We pump a lot of money into different aspects of the beauty industry. People are buying products to protect their extensions," she explained.

According to Smith, $10,000 is typically what the average client spends to get their hair done, in addition to the maintenance of their hair.

The typical buyer at Weave Darling spends between $25,000 to $57,000 on hair extensions, which are estimated to last for up to four years.

According to Smith, some of her clients need hair extensions because of medical reasons, such alopecia and cancer.

Smith also said that hair extension providers further support the Jamaican economy through the buying of locally made products.

"We are working together with Jamaican brands on a daily basis. I work with a company that provides castor oil and coconut oil and other new businesses, which I sell along with my hair," she added.

Shauntelle Peart, a University of Technology student who has been a hair stylist for two years, said a lot of women are able get employment for themselves since the growing popularity of hair extensions.

"I am able to help with my school expenses because I am self-employed," she added.

Peart, who operates the Flawlessly Fabulous brand, says 80 per cent of her clients use virgin hair extensions to makes wigs and to do sew-ins.

Virgin hair is chemically unprocessed human hair that has not been altered by dyes, perms, bleaches, or harsh washes.

Travian Campbell, proprietor of Jamaican Afro Chic, which sells Jamaican castor oil, coconut oil and burdock oil, says women who use hair extension are among her customer base.

"I work closely with virgin hair providers because women who weave want to protect their hair," she added.

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