Thursday, December 5, 2019

A Different World: Black Women, Hair and Cosmetics on College Campuses

Lakenzie Walls

How are young black women from urban areas adjusting to college life in Edwardsville?

This semester, I interviewed fifty-eight black college students, thirty-one of whom are young women, on campus concerning their academic journeys in college. A few young women mentioned acquiring beauty-related "side hustles" due to the lack of black hairstylists and beauty supply stores in Edwardsville.

I was completely in awe when one student expressed interest in selling eyelashes, which is the latest trendy beauty craze. Soon after I interviewed the student selling eyelashes, I began noticing a pattern in some of the young women's interests and side hustles.

Nowadays, adjusting to life in a small town might be hard for someone that's from a large city like Chicago. In a big city, black women have access to an abundance of hairstylists, nail techs, makeup artists, and beauty supply stores that cater to their needs.

The affordability of some products is another factor that prompts students to start businesses. One student stood out from the rest when she announced plans to sell affordable lip gloss. I think the lack of hair care options and the price of cosmetics in small towns with college campuses are creating unique opportunities for side hustles for some business-minded black women students.

Academic Journeys: An Oral History Project

Lakenzie Walls is a graduate student in English at SIUE and a contributing writer for the Cultural Front.

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