Hair is one of the most prominent staples of black culture. Our hair can tell the story of who we are, where we’ve been, our family lineage, etc. Because our hair is so important to us, beauty supply stores are like a second home.
In my 22 years going in and out of beauty supply shops, I’ve only seen a handful that were black-owned. That’s why it was so refreshing stepping into L&L Beauty Supply store.
Lynnae Armstrong, co-owner of L&L, greeted me with a smile as soon as I walked in.
The walls of the store were lined with colorful hair, from grey and red to ombre pink and lavender. There are shelves stacked with natural hair products, makeup, nail polish, accessories and more. The store, which officially opened on Nov. 23, has numerous national black-haircare brands such as SheaMoisture and Dark and Lovely, but also locally produced products. It was like walking into a candy store; I didn’t know where to start.
“In America, black people spend approximately $7.5 billion annually on hair supplies, beauty products, makeup, skin products,” said Lynette Holmes, co-owner of L&L and Armstrong’s mother. “We are the top consumer in that particular area, and with us spending so much money, why would we not want a stake in it?”
It didn’t take much contemplation before Holmes, Lynnae and her husband Leroy Armstrong decided to go into business together. They all read various reports about the lack of black-owned beauty supply stores and had a discussion about it. The conversation took place over a few sessions until one night they really dove into their mode of attack and decided to open L&L. The next day, they went out and registered their business name.
According to Holmes, she makes up one of the “L’s” while Leroy and Lynnae make up the other. The two have been inseparable since the beginning stages of their love story. Though they went to the same school and Leroy was even in her house once, the two didn’t start talking until they met on a dating website.
After talking for a few days, they met up at his church then started to go on more and more dates outside the church. Within days, they were in a whirlwind romance. The first week, they introduced their parents to one another. By the second week, they had their names tattooed on each other.
“Thank God we ended up married,” Lynnae said between a fit of laughter.
The couple, who have been together for five years and married for one, also own a general contracting business and buy and sell houses together, so working together at L&L was nothing new.
“We’re together all day every day,” Leroy said. “We’re accustomed to each other.”
Though there are some ups and downs, all three love working together. They are open and blunt with one another, which they say benefits their business more than harms it. There’s no such thing as beating around the bush when you’re working with your family.
“We’re a family running a business,” Holmes said. “We laugh, we love, we fight. We’re family.”
L&L is still in the process of growing its business and adding more local entrepreneurs and artists into the store. Currently, some of the local vendors they have are Wow Damn Foxy Hair, a line of haircare products, These Lips are Da’ Balm homemade lip balms and Lyniques Accessories, which was created by Holmes herself.
The products in the store are all handpicked from places across the East Coast, from New York all the way to Florida. According to Holmes and Leroy, they select their products based on recent trends, customer feedback and their own hair care experiences.
“We just use the basic knowledge of being an African American,” Leroy said. “We know what we want to put in our hair and what other people want from us growing up.”
In five years, the three see L&L becoming a franchise and inspiring other African Americans to open their own stores. Lynnae hopes that the store brings in enough business that they can one day donate to up-and-coming local businesses and promote black entrepreneurship.
“We don’t want [L&L] to just be a beauty supply store,” she said. “We want it to be a place where you can just buy black. Period.”
L&L Beauty Supply Store is located at 310 Reily St., Harrisburg. For more information, visit their Facebook Page @LLBeautySupplyStore.