Charlotte business owners Ricky Rainer and Chardai Tisdale are doing what they can do to make sure Black-owned hair care products get more than just the corner in the back of the store.
As a veteran hairstylist, Tisdale has always been aware of the significant disparity in the products and education that were provided to her clients once they left her chair. With the regulated COVID shutdowns of barbershops and salons, Tisdale saw a major decline in her clients being able to maintain their hair care. To provide relief, Tisdale began doing weekly lives to communicate with her clientele and others revolving around hair care products and best practices. Tisdale used her social platforms to provide something as simple as advice on proper shampooing and do her best to highlight small/local black-owned products.
In December 2020, Tisdale and her entrepreneur boyfriend, Ricky Ranier, decided to turn her social endeavors into a functional retail space. Black Balled Beauty located in the Ayrsley area of Charlotte, is one of the area's only Black-owned beauty supply stores and salons. Tisdale continues to serve as a hairstylist but is holding true to the mission of providing product accessibility and education and supporting locally owned businesses. Black Balled shelves many products owned by small businesses and hosts weekly vendor events in the store, allowing the business to increase visibility and do live demonstrations of their products.
Fancy: You opened your business in the middle of the pandemic. How scary was that?
Tisdale: It was very difficult, with a lot of unknowns. Closing the salon was hard, but that was what inspired us to branch into a full retail space. It was important to make the products that I would use on my client's hair available for them to utilize at home. So while it was difficult, the important part was finding a way to pivot. But we did have some issues with shipping and logistics, but it has worked out as we continued.
Fancy: What is it like working together as a couple?
Tisdale: It's great. You get to work with your best friend every day. That support of working with someone who understands your dreams and knows how to motivate you on the hard days is great. We understand how much this means to one another, so we are the best people to give pep talks when things get hard.
Fancy: Do you know how many Black-owned brands you carry?
Tisdale: We carry over 50 brands, and that also included locally-owned brands from Charlotte as well. Black people have so many hair types and textures, so we do our best to make sure we provide something for everyone.
Fancy: We’ve heard stories about it being hard to find vendors to work with other Black-owned beauty supplies stores. Did you all ever experience that?
Tisdale: YES! We definitely have some horror stories of trying to get vendors to even call us back once they realized we were African-American. We were prepared for the continuous search and even being overcharged, but it was really discouraging at how blatant it was that it was because of our race. That was also a contributor to us deciding to sell locally owned products. We didn't want other small businesses to go through that, and we also wanted to provide a retail platform they might not have ever experienced.
Fancy: What has the support been like so far?
Tisdale: It has been great. We have a number of beauty salons and barbershops around us that support. Charlotte, NC has a great community of black-owned businesses and supporters who are proud to support, so we are very appreciative of that.
Fancy: So, do you also do hair at the location?
Tisdale: Yes, the back of the store location is also a fully functional salon. We have customers who turn into clients all the time. It's not a necessity, but it feels amazing to see that their retail experience with us made such an impact that they decided to trust me with their hair care.
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