Beauty Genie vending machine provides Black hair care on the go at Union Station

Jasmine Minor Image
Tuesday, February 13, 2024
Beauty Genie vending machine provides Black hair care on the go
The Beauty Genie vending machine exclusively sells hair supplies for textured hair, and it's now open at Union Station.

CHICAGO (WLS) -- The Beauty Genie Box vending machine can hold more than 500 products that are all specifically made for textured hair. It's got everything from mainstream oils and shampoos to products you can't always find in stores. And now it's open at Chicago's Union Station.

"When you think about Black and brown communities who don't readily have access to beauty supplies outside of your traditional beauty supply shop," said Ebony Karim, CEO of the Beauty Genie.

Karin said whether it's bonnets, shower caps or edge control, the Beauty Genie vending machine at Union Station has you covered on the go.

"We have been conditioned not to feel good about our natural hair and not to embrace our natural hair," Karim said.

"Our hair was not only social status, not only the spiritual connection, but it became a form of resistance here." Said historian Ernest Crimm III.

Crimm, a former Chicago history teacher, said such resistance has looked different over time, whether it was braids that were roadmaps to escape slavery or relaxers to try to meet society's standards.

"A lot of our social norms and our fashion styles are based on a fear of whiteness," he said.

Quintella Rodgers, owner of Thee Hair Bar Salon, said she works with Beauty Genie to provide tutorials on natural hair for young Black students, but if anything the business's innovation is about access.

"You can go to Walgreens and find some of these and a lot of these you can't," she said.

She said she hopes the test machine at Union Station leads to other Beauty Genie vending machines at historically Black colleges and universities across the country. She's helping advise Karim on the best products to stock up on.

"Sulfate free, paraben free clean so that they can use it on relaxed, color-treated hair and natural hair," Rodgers said.

"When you feel good about yourself inside that also reflects its you know, externally as well," said Karim.