Delshawn Rollins once trusted only fellow African-Americans with the delicate task of styling and straightening her tightly curled brown hair.
But that meant enduring hours of salon gossip, ordered-in lunch (and
sometimes dinner, too) and occasional mishaps, like the time the ends of her
hair snapped off after she had it dyed.
Fed up, the 35-year-old respiratory therapist last fall pulled out a flier she had for a new salon that promised to "work magic" using "Dominican styling." She was in and out of The Hair Co. USA, which displays the Dominican flag in the front window, within two hours, sporting a straight, feathery "do" for $20 less than she had been paying her old stylist.
"My hair has this flow," she says. People ask where she has it done.
Armed with a blow dryer and brush, deft wrist action and shrewd promotional tactics, immigrants from the Dominican Republic are snipping away market share from African-American stylists whose mastery of black women's hair ensured for generations that their customers wouldn't, or couldn't, leave them. Promises of seemingly healthier hair, swifter service and far lower prices are wooing away a growing number of black women.
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