Jordans Beauty Supply still making waves on South Side

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Jordans Beauty Supply on Chicago?s South Side is one of a dwindling number of black-owned businesses still making waves. (WLS)

For Isaac Jordan and his family, beauty is their business.

Black women spend an estimated half-trillion dollars a year on their hair. Yet, the hair care industry has seen a significant shift in retail ownership.

After thirty-five years, Jordans Beauty Supply on Chicago's South Side is one of a dwindling number of black-owned businesses still making waves. ABC7 is highlighting them as part of Black History Month.

They provide a personal touch that goes beyond expectation, and that is the secret to their success.

"A lot of time you think you need some new clipper blades, and all this bad fellow needs is some oiling cream," said Isaac Jordan, who founded Jordans Beauty Supply.

Jordan started in the hair care industry over 35 years ago.

"At the time, I was looking for a job and I was hired actually to be a manager of another beauty supply and that's when my mother-in-law said, 'If you can run somebody else's place, you can run your own,'" he said.

A lot has changed since then. Many independent, black-owned beauty supply stores folded as Jordans expanded. He purchased several adjacent buildings in the South Shore neighborhood -- opening a hair salon and a salon furniture showroom.

He also opened a beauty supply store in the Ashburn neighborhood. Three generations of family members manage the operations. They said customer service and product knowledge set them apart from competitors.

"The products that we use here, the shampoos, the conditioners is used for our hair," said granddaughter Sellecca Ballenger. "I use it on my own hair, so I can tell people from experience."

While the family laments increasing financial struggles due to larger retailers cashing in on black hair care, the family prides itself on staying true to its roots. The store stocks a number of small product lines owned by African Americans.

"It's important to me because back in the day before the Internet was out there and you had Instagram and all of that, there was the distributor and we were the only way, or the main way, that companies actually got their product to the end-user," said daughter Larraine Bryant. "And during that time a lot of the black companies may not have been able to go to the bigger box stores to get their product lines in. So the smaller black-owned stores were very, very valuable."

The Jordans has moved into manufacturing as well, offering their own brand of products called Preeminent. The patriarch said keeping pace with the changing industry is challenging, but his family business thrives because of the support it gives -- and gets -- from the community.

"The main thing is having something that the people in the community need and try to supply that need instead of just trying to supply something to make a dollar," Isaac said.

The Jordans also offer continuing education classes for professional stylists and their store sells products online.

For more information about Jordans Beauty Distributers Inc., visit

Related Topics:
shoppinghair stylingblack history month
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