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7 mins read

Chicago Area Woman Opens Beauty Supply Store

Princess Dempsey knows that she’s a rarity — it’s nothing new. The Broadview businesswoman has for years owned one of the few minority- and women-owned certified staffing firms in the country. So owning Princess Delights Beauty Supply — what she and some of her patrons suspect is very likely the first and only black-owned beauty supply store in Proviso Township — is just another unorthodox entrepreneurial venture for Dempsey.

Dempsey held a full-day grand opening celebration for the store, located at 1907 S. Mannheim Rd. in Westchester, on July 28. More than 30 people lined up at the door before the store opened at 11 a.m. By noon, Dempsey said, she had sold around $1,000 worth of product.

The store is stocked with the standard beauty supply fare, including hundreds of hair extension packs that line one wall. Shampoos, conditioners and other hair maintenance products line shelves that Dempsey bought from a Toys R Us after the chain announced that it would be going out of business.

But there are also other products, such as used clothes and accessories that feel like extensions of the mission of Dempsey Staffing. Over the years, the firm, which has an office in Westchester, has placed Proviso Township residents in temporary and permanent jobs throughout Chicago and the suburbs.

Dempsey said the firm goes a step above typical staffing agencies, equipping candidates with life skills and essential tools that are critical to landing many jobs in today’s economy, such as suits and ties. The staffing firm, Dempsey said, is currently being run by her sons.

“We have everything you’d get at a normal beauty supply store and more,” Dempsey said during her grand opening on Saturday. “What we do differently is price comparison. If you see a product we carry at a certain price somewhere else, we’ll sell you ours at a lower price.” She was also happy to report that having the best beauty supply pos has supported her business.

If the product isn’t in store, she said, employees like Heaven Manning — a 13-year-old upcoming freshman at Proviso East High School — will take a note to order it. Working at the beauty supply is Manning’s first job.

“During the summer, I don’t have any programs or anything, so coming to work is fun,” Manning said.

Dempsey and Manning are part of a trend in the consumer spending category that a 2018 Nielsen report describes as ethnic hair and beauty aids. Blacks are around 14 percent of the U.S. population, but they commanded nearly 86 percent of the $54.4 million spent last year on ethnic hair and beauty aids in the U.S.

Despite their spending power, however, blacks have historically been underrepresented among beauty supply store owners. According to the National Federation of Beauty Suppliers, around 70 percent of beauty supply stores in the U.S. are owned by Korean-Americans.

Dempsey said that she’s well aware of the disparity — one, she added, that is only beginning to narrow.

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Dempsey said that she broke into the industry by letting distributors know that she’s serious. | VFP

“They have us working in their stores now, but we don’t own them,” Dempsey said of Korean-American-owned beauty supply stores. “But look how long it took for them to even have us working in their places.”

Lately, however, there’s been a national surge of black-owned supply stores cropping up, according to a WOSU Public Media report.

“Two major shifts in the beauty supply industry are happening at the same time: More black women are sporting natural hair, and as Korean-Americans leave the industry, the stores that long catered to black customers are increasingly moving into black ownership,” according to the report.

“The Black Owned Beauty Supply Association says there are now about 3,000 black-owned beauty supply stores in the country. That’s about 150 more than last year.”

Dempsey said that she broke into the industry after discovering that a Korean-American beauty supply owner in Chicago was getting out of the business.

“He had not paid his taxes for 30 years and I went into his establishment and he said he had to leave and I offered to buy the store,” Dempsey said. “He said, ‘You have no money.’ I said, ‘God has it all, tell me the price.’ So, we ended up buying his inventory of hair.”

Dempsey said that having gained control of that inventory, she’s had no problem maintaining a source that will distribute to her indefinitely.

“I noticed that the distributors, even though they’re Korean, they don’t care if you’re black or white — they just want their money,” Dempsey said. “They knew I was serious when they saw what I bought. So, they’re looking for serious people. My orders are nice.”

Dempsey said that she currently employs two teenagers, including Manning. She added that she’ll soon be stocking an exclusive line of makeup by Landis, the Chicago-based celebrity makeup artist.

The store is opened Monday through Friday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. It is closed on Sunday. For more info, call (708) 938-5427.


Source: Village Free Press

7 mins read

From Prison Chef to Successful Burger Business Owner

By 11 a.m., the first hungry customers start milling about outside of James Purifoy’s burger joint, 15th & Chris in Rockford, Illinois. By noon, the line often snakes around the small, red building and into the parking lot.

“Some of the customers I see so often that I already know what they’re ordering, just by the way they’re standing and looking at me,” says Purifoy.

Purifoy opened 15th & Chris in September 2014 and in less than four years, he’s become a local culinary celebrity. The no-frills operation offers no indoor seating, just a few picnic tables out front. But people come from miles around for Purifoy’s burgers.

“They’re not just coming from 20 or 30 minutes away. Someone in Minnesota saw my review on social media and ended up at 15th & Chris to try my burger,” he boasts.

Purifoy created every burger recipe on the menu and named them himself.

Among some of the most popular burgers is The Mackaveli, a patty with BBQ sauce, melted cheese and beer-battered onion rings. Then there is The First Lady burger, which is basted with steak sauce and topped with Swiss cheese, mushrooms, grilled onions and mayo.


Oddly enough, Purifoy says he wouldn’t be here if he hadn’t served time in prison.

Surrounding 15th & Chris are the housing projects where Purifoy and his siblings were raised by their mother. “We were six kids and she was a single parent with multiple jobs,” he says.

Although he was the first in his family to make it through high school, he says “inner city street life” eventually consumed him. “I was in a gang. I had a gun, I was dealing drugs to make money for myself and for the family,” he recalls.

He was arrested multiple times as a teenager. Then, when he was 17, he shot a rival gang member. “I never thought it was right, but I didn’t want to die either. For me, I had to stop them before they got me,” he says.

At 19, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Walking into the penitentiary was a wake-up call. “I decided prison was not going to be my revolving door anymore,” says Purifoy.

He took classes to pass the time. He pursued an associate degree in automotive technology, followed by vocational certificates in custodial services and building maintenance. But it was the associate degree he attained in culinary arts that struck a chord with him.

“I remember watching my mom cook and wondering how she made things taste the way they did. It always intrigued me,” says Purifoy.

Eventually, he became head chef at one of the prisons where he was serving out his sentence. While there, he designed and cooked meals for an inmate population of 2,800. As his confidence grew, Purifoy knew cooking would one day help him get back on his feet.

In 2004, Purifoy was released. He was 29 years old. At first, he landed odd jobs and took business classes at a local community college. He saved his money and started a small trucking company, JFP Trucking, which he ran for a few years.

Work was steady, but his heart wasn’t in it. “Cooking was my passion,” he says. The self-described “burger fanatic” couldn’t stop thinking about how the neighborhood was desperately in need of a great burger joint.

In 2012, Purifoy drove past an abandoned shack that used to sell ice cream. “I thought, well, there it is. I’m going to open my burger spot there.”

Purifoy sold JFP Trucking to raise capital. He also received a $50,000 grant from the city and drummed up additional help from family. Two years later, after putting a total of nearly $100,00 into renovations, he opened 15th & Chris.

Today, the business has 10 employees, including a few workers who have served time in prison. “These are people from all walks of life. They’ve been to prison and just need a chance now for a fresh start,” says Purifoy. “They need jobs.”

Purifoy starts his day shortly after 5 a.m., helping his wife Latasha get their five young children ready for school. After that, he heads to the restaurant where he cooks and helps serve the food.

The business is now profitable and Purifoy is looking to expand, he says. Last year, he bought a food truck to cater events, but now he is using it every day to sell his burgers around town.

Up next: To open another restaurant in Rockford, one with more indoor space so he can offer table service. Across the parking lot from 15th & Chris is Penguin Foods, a third-generation meat shop and catering business.

“He buys ground beef and sausages from us for his restaurant,” said owner John Ciembronowicz. Purifoy, in turn, uses the freezers in Ciembronowicz’s shop to store his supplies.

“We help each other out,” says Ciembronowicz. “The way he’s turned his life around is incredible. And he’s helped to revitalize this area, too…Small businesses like ours are vital to this community.”

Purifoy is trying to give back to the community in other ways, too.

“I speak with inner city kids just like me and I’m very upfront about my life story,” he says. “I tell them that education is everything. If you know better, you do better in life.”


Source: CNN Money