Catch the New York Trend

Catch the New York Trend

‘Hair Link’ Bong Jung, Brooklyn, New York

Who can manage a more successful business? How to survive amidst a heated competition among beauty supply retailers? A common concern shared by all of those parts of the industry. Mr. Bong Jung and Mrs. Mi-Ok Jung from Brooklyn, southern part of New York, a city bustling with passion for fashion and latest trend, share their success stories in the beauty industry.

Jewelry and Evening bags to fill the gap in sales
“95% of our customers are African Americans, mostly in their 40’ s. Despite the skyrocketing cost of rent in New York, there are just too many stores opening to fight for limited pool of customers.” Hair products used to make up 40% of the monthly sales, but it has now been reduced to 35%. The difference is replaced with jewelry and other merchandise sales. “Rent and labor cost goes up every year so without an increase in sales we are left with no choice but to let go of our employees. If so, the quality of our customer service would become unsatisfactory. Running a business is truly a difficult game.” “Jung the Bag!” is the name people use to call him. Mr. Jung simply loves all types of bag, regardless of its size and purpose. There are a number of different types of bags displayed throughout the store that reflect customers’ tastes.

‘Hair Link’ Brand Product
Bundle hair products are ordered from all of the brands currently out in the market. Single and multi-pack in body and straight from ‘’ Hair Link’ catches the eyes. Products from this company, with voluminous hair at a reasonable price, has helped them worry less about the price competition that some other companies have engaged in.

Wig display is focused more on the human hair products. Colorful ones are more in demand during summer and middle-aged customers tend to prefer natural and basic colors over flashier ones. Items are displayed with a professional, chic manner. A separate stand was installed near the register for customers to view and touch more expensive products up close, which has a direct impact on the sales. Expert employees who have worked at the store for almost 10 years are capable of personally connecting with wig customers, and even help the style the products. Customers at Mr. Jung’ s store are different from passersby at a strip mall. They are regulars who are very familiar with the interior of the store. As they have been managing the store for 14 years, Mr. and Mrs. Jung invested in updating the interior by using premium quality wood and materials so customers would not grow tired of the design Braids with basic color, just like wigs, and multi packs are more popular than the colored items. More customers are asking for X-Pression, Wet&Wavy, EZ, and Ruwa braids. Because braid items are bulkier than other hair products, they are less favored by retailers in New York with limited space. Boxes are stored not only in the storage, but some are also kept at Mr. Jung’ s garage and he would grab however much he needs on his way out. He is always diligently working to make sure that no items goes out of stock at his store.

Hair Chemical market is growing
Professional salon products, luxury nail polish, evening bags, and bridal gloves are some of the items that Mr. Jung specializes in. “Style Factor is really on top of their game. They know exactly what scents customers are looking for and their social media marketing has also been very successful.” In recent years, Walmart and Target located in predominantly African American neighborhood have started to sell hair chemicals at unbeatable prices. Luckily, Mr. Jung’ s area has not been affected but more stores are starting to carry beauty supply items. At such times, it’ s crucial to select and stock trendy items in a timely manner to not lose customers to larger retail businesses.

Enjoying the Manhattan’ s flea market
Mr. and Mrs. Jung visit Manhattan flea market about twice a month to purchase seasonal and trendy merchandise items. It’ s always important to keep up with the latest trend in New York. “We have continued to order from Beauty Town as their recent products were in excellent quality. We can definitely feel the difference in customers’ reaction when we put in the effort to keep the inside organized and bring in popular products that we have picked up from the market. These merchandise items play an important role in making up for the decline in hair item sales.”

Standing out from the competitors
“Nothing special really, just giving the best we have.” Mr. Jung smiled. “We are introduced to most of the new releases through visiting salesmen. Our neighborhood is not as current with the latest hair trends as other areas, which make things slightly easier for us. We monitor popularity of new products at different retail stores about two months after their initial launch before bringing them to our store.” Hair Link undergoes a complete makeover of the display twice a year. The couple regularly works with the employees to make this transformation happen knowing that the customers love walking into a refreshed, updated interior. They especially value the input from younger employees who are in closer contact with the customers and therefore, have a better knowledge of what
customers are actually looking for.

Reasons why customers come to Hair Link
1. Stay up to date with the trend. Customers trust our fashionable taste.
2. Carry miscellaneous merchandise and accessories not found at other stores.
3. Employees with welcoming smile and years of expertise. Customers are at ease when assisted by the same, familiar face.
4. A wide selection of wigs for customers to try on and choose from.
5. Ample parking space for customers to leisurely shop, worry-free.
6. Clean and welcoming environment.
7. People can also shop for general supplies like toothbrush and batteries.

Marketing strategies to compete with bundle shops
New bundle shops have recently opened on the streets of Brooklyn. Local beauty supply stores have been complaining about the subsequent decline in their sales. “These new shops are selling bundle hair products at almost half our prices. It’ s a serious concern as some of the items aren’t even from a recognizable brand. Bundle hair has traditionally been sold in generic clear packaging and customers usually care less about the brand name.” Mr. Jung carefully brought up the issue. “Marketing strategies for the hair products need to be revisited and meticulously thought through so that the sales do not further decline.”

Rising from the ashes
Just from a first glance, it is hard to imagine that the couple have gone through difficult times in the past. After immigrating to the states and starting their own handbag business, there were many obstacles to overcome. “My credit score plummeted after the failure of a co-invested business. Because our children were young at the time, my wife who didn’t have enough work experience had to immediately jump in to find earnings. She picked up multiple shifts, reassuring that there is nothing to worry about as she was still young and healthy. I was also working at two different hair retail stores for 4 years,” Mr. Jung recollected and expressed his sincere gratitude toward his hardworking wife and friends and families who have willingly helped out for him to regain strength and be back on his feet.

Volunteering for New York Korean Beauty Supply Association
Mr. Jung has been appointed as president of the New York Korean Beauty Supply Association for the past two years. Now he is still involved as a chairman to continue serving the community. The association provide group order opportunities for its members and organize social events like golf tournament. The group is also dedicated to giving back to the community by giving support to those in need. As it celebrates its 25th anniversary, the association is preparing a booklet to log its memories and achievements.

Not limited by retirement
M“I once thought that once the business settles down, I can take a step back from the management, but immediately realized that isn’t the case. I continue to put in my best effort with my wife. As long as health allows, there really isn’ t a mandatory retire-ment age in beauty industry which I’ m thankful for.” ‘Beauty supply is my everything’ Mr. Jung ended with a soft smile, noting that this business is what saved him from years of slump. We wish the best of luck for Hair Link, located near the gorgeous Brooklyn beach, and hope Mr. and Mrs. Jung’ s hard work and brilliant ideas could become even closer to the customers.

Beauty Supply Interview Sunny Kim
BNB Magazine August 2019 ©