30/09/2016 06:59 BST | Updated 30/09/2017 06:12 BST

Black Women Are Being Ripped Off By The Black Hair Care Industry

As a Black woman who is serious about my hair maintenance routine, I have spent untold thousands, likely in the six figures over the course of my life to maintain my hair slayage. From catching subways, buses and trains while living in South Korea, just to find a Nigerian lady six hours away who could braid my hair, to catching 14 hour flights from Dubai to my native home of Los Angeles, to simply get my hair extensions installed to the standards I am accustomed to. Please believe, I, like many other Black women play NO games when it comes to our hair.

Having lived on four continents and traveling to nearly forty countries, one resounding observation that has remained consistent, is that every Black neighbourhood, and African enclave that I've traveled to, has this one thing in common: A beauty supply store on nearly every corner, wherein Black women spend a disproportionate amount of their earnings purchasing hair products, styling tools weaves and wigs. Most often, these establishments are not Black owned, much less owned by Black women.

Last year HM Revenue and Customs reported upwards of £38 million worth of hair entered the United Kingdom, which makes the UK the third biggest importer of human hair in the world. UK hair extension companies estimate a worth between £45m to £60m. Data released by the Anglo-Dutch group Unilever, who have made recent investments in the Black hair industry in Africa, sites that between three nations in Africa, including: South Africa, Cameroon and Nigeria, African women spent 6 billion dollars on hair extensions alone. Other reports by research firm Mintel, projects that the Black haircare industry in the U.S. is expected to rake in 761 million dollars by 2017. The Mintel study goes on to expound, "What's missing from these figures are general market brands, weaves, extensions, wigs, independent beauty supply stores, distributors, e-commerce, styling tools and appliances. If all of those things were to be taken into consideration...expenditures could reach a whopping half trillion dollars."

With $500 billion dollars at stake in the black hair industry, why is there such a notable absence of Black women in the supply chain? Madam Indigo a U.S. based hair retailer is making inroads to resolve this quandary. The company is out to impact the financial destinies of women in Africa and the Diaspora. Black women are spending nearly 7 billion dollars, exclusively on hair extensions worldwide, so there is no reason we should not have a large stake in this industry.

That is why on October 21st, as part of the capitals Black History Month celebrations, Madam Indigo is inviting ambitious London based women to attend their launch and panel discussion entitled "The Business of Beauty: A Financial Empowerment Event For Women of Colour." The panelists include founder of the National Black Women's Network Sonia Brown MBE, owner of London's first black owned hair shop Sandra Brown-Pinnock, Precious Award Founder Foluke Akinlose and Youtube Vlogger/Beauty Guru Breeny Lee. Attendees are invited to work in partnership with the company, by joining their salesforce of world wide 'Hair Extension Specialist.' Offering affordable memberships for independent distributors and 50% commission on sales, far more generous than standard commissions, Madam Indigo is a commercial business with a social heart.

After the London launch event in October, Madam Indigo will continue with their mission to financially empower Black women, by expanding their campaign to Nigeria and Ghana in early February 2017. To sign up for the London event on Friday, October 21st, RSVP here: