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Entrepreneur urges black businesses to support each other

ON A MISSION: Entrepreneur Sandra Brown-Pinnock

A SOUTH London entrepreneur who has set up a beauty supply store is urging black shoppers to support black owned businesses.

Jamaica-born business woman Sandra Brown-Pinnock launched XSandy’s (pronounced zan-dys) in June last year after her frustration at the lack of knowledge and expertise of many high street beauty supply stores.

The store, based in Lewisham Shopping Centre, offers the same products normally found in these stores but Brown-Pinnock and her team offer sound knowledge of the products and supports other black owned products and brands.

The businesswoman said that after she decided to set up the store, researching her business idea convinced her of the need for black consumers.

She told The Voice: “I was finding that when I went to a hair and beauty store for something I needed the sales advisor would tend to tell me anything. I would get frustrated and then ask ‘How can you sell me something that you don’t know anything about?’ I then noticed that hair and beauty stores are usually owned and run by Pakistani men.

“Previously there were a lot of African and Caribbean owned stores in what is a lucrative industry but were priced out of the market in the 80s and 90s by competitors who lowered their prices to draw in customers, leaving those who now control the market to remain in control. The few African Caribbeans who had a store were squeezed out because of that, and so I’m here fighting the good fight and encouraging people to get on board.”

Brown-Pinnock, who regularly posts videos on Facebook about the black community’s need to support its businesses, is pleased with the customer reaction to Xsandy’s.

She said: “It has been going really well. The feedback I’m getting is that customers, everyone who visits the store finds it so refreshing that they get real help and advice.”

ESTABLISH

However she says that her mission now is to encourage the black community to pull together and establish their own ventures and buy from each other.

She said: “We [the black community] are not supportive of each other. I will support every black business. I will walk a mile to go and buy from that black business. When we look at the high street around us our community often don’t own anything, we’re mainly consumers. We’ve grown up in this country with the idea that buying from a black person is more expensive or that they don’t have the things you need that maybe a bigger chain might have. Often when consumers tell me that black owned shop is more expensive I’ll reply ‘Have you been in there lately? Often the answer is no. And when they check it out, it’s often not the case. If enough of us are not buying from black owned shops in the first place, they will not survive so we will be forced to go elsewhere.”

COMMUNITY

Brown-Pinnock’s comments echo a move by the Birmingham based Black Pound Society (BPS) who in 2011 urged black people to stop complaining about the lack of wealth in the community and take action by spending money with black businesses to create an economic legacy for future generations.

The Society claimed that black consumers should ensure their spending power goes to boosting black businesses in the same way that happened in African American neighbourhoods such as Harlem during the 1960s civil rights struggle.

Many black enterprises across the West Midlands supported the initiative including NewStyle Radio, Diamond Travel and Diva’s Cosmetics.

Brown-Pinnock said: “When you compare the black community to the Indian and the Chinese, you see how loyal those communities are to their own business ventures and how they buy from their own. We have to question, why is that, why we don’t support each other?”

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