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Community Highlights: Meet Jynne Ross of Queendom Essentials Beauty Supply

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jynne Ross.

Hi Jynne, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstory.
My passion for hair and beauty developed in my early childhood years. I was raised by a single mother of two, who had various financial hardships that came in waves. As a result, my mom was often unable to provide my sister and me with money to get our hair styled at the local beauty salons. For years, I admired the creative hairstyles worn by my neighborhood friends in the area and my middle school classmates.

Determined to be a part of the stylish in-crowd and given that individuals and cornroll braids were one of the trendiest looks in the ’90s, I decided to teach myself how to braid hair. In due course, I mastered the skill! At the tender age of 11, I had indeed honed the art of braiding. I curated my craft to develop unique styles, cultivating a fan base among my friends and family—many of whom were eventual customers. If my clients could not pay, I would often braid for free to gain more experience simply because I enjoyed styling so much. By seventh grade, I moved on to learn how to install ponytails. I often sampled and used many of the popular brands, such as Let’s Jam, African Pride, Eco Styler, and QP to create these styles. I used the products on my clients and my 4-A type hair while styling. By the 8th grade, my at-home business was a hit. Although my passion for braiding emanated from a lack of financial resources, I maintained my do-it-yourself (DIY) attitude well into adulthood. Despite never attending cosmetology school, by the age of 19, I had learned how to install a full-head sew-in weave, crochet braids, and crochet faux locs via YouTube tutorials. In addition to styling my hair, I also learned how to create crochet wigs for others-which has developed into one of my most enjoyable pastimes.

As a busy full-time employee, mother, and second-time college student, I often did not have time to patronize salons, so I maintained self-styling. In May of 2016, my skills came in handy for walking the stage in style on commencement day as I received my Master of Arts Degree in Negotiation, Conflict Resolution, and Peacebuilding from California State University Dominguez Hills (CSUDH). During my early braiding career—while patronizing local beauty supplies in South LA and surrounding areas—I would frequently encounter inexperienced owners and staff who could not answer questions about products that worked best for my hair type. Regrettably, these beauty supplies were owned and operated by non-Black merchants with different hair textures, who did not learn about the diversity of African American tresses and the hair care products uniquely suited to meet my needs. The general lack of awareness that I encountered limited my ability to make intelligent buying decisions. The recurrent nuisance of unanswered questions, coupled with my entrepreneurial spirit and love for styling, sparked my decision to open a Brick and Mortar beauty supply business of my own, which would cater to the needs of textured-hair customers.

From 2010- 2012, I was a Paramount resident. I would often commute 20-minutes to Long Beach or Compton to shop at the beauty supply retailers that carried a diverse array of products for my hair type. Frustrated by the inconvenience, I made it my agenda to open the first Black-owned Beauty Supply in Paramount, CA. In September of 2020, I opened Queendom Essentials Beauty Supply, one block away from my previous residence in the city. The best part about opening my store is interacting with the residents who patronize the business and say, “thank you for being here,” “it’s about time,” or “we appreciate you!”

I’m sure you wouldn’t say it’s been obstacle free, but so far would you say the journey have been a fairly smooth road?
A major challenge for myself and numerous Black beauty supply colleagues is that we are not always able to obtain fair pricing from non-Black Owned hair manufacturers. Many of these companies charge exorbitant minimums to set up new accounts (e.g., $9,000 and up for one hair brand), yet they carry the products in high demand for African-American consumers. This treatment is a longstanding, systematic form of ownership suppression against Black beauty supply entrepreneurs. Lacking generational wealth and racial capital, we face tremendous roadblocks to acquiring a vast selection of products and competing in this market. Moreover, the beauty supply business is a specialized form of retail that operates like a secret society. It is difficult to navigate successfully without help, especially given the various obstacles new and aspiring owners face trying to enter into the industry. However, throughout the journey, I was lucky to locate resources through Black beauty supply associations and my social media communities.

I am blessed to have met so many like-minded women and men that share common interests. We aim to build each other up and establish collective power in our industry. Another important goal is to serve our respective communities as leaders in business and role models for our youth and aspiring entrepreneurs. Opening a store during the COVID-19 pandemic has forced me to pivot in several ways. For example, much of the usual foot traffic in my shopping center slowed down tremendously, and many consumers now shop online for their beauty products. To tackle this challenge, we regularly update our Instagram page (@qebeautysupply) and website (www.qehairnbeauty.com), noting how we’ve enriched our inventory and special sales offerings. Because the pandemic has continued to affect household finances, the website also highlights educational hair videos for our DIY customers. Additionally, as a single mother who co-parents a seven-year-old enrolled in a Spanish dual language immersion program, the unprecedented pivot to 100% remote learning has exacerbated these challenges. Like other working parents, I am juggling a lot. However, my love for hair wellness, beauty, and supporting my customers keep me buoyed in these challenging times.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Queendom Essentials Beauty Supply?
Queendom Essentials Beauty Supply is a family operated business that provides a variety of popular multi-ethnic products that accentuates the beauty of straight, curly, and coily hair. We remain stocked with elite hair extensions, a variety of beautiful wigs, braiding hair, styling tools, natural and traditional styling products, cosmetics, and other essential items for women, men, and children. We view our store as a vessel for shoppers to access the top brands available on the market. We love to carry items by manufacturers whose focus is on using organic ingredients to revitalize and promote healthy hair. I named my store Queendom Essentials Beauty Supply because I believe women are queens who deserve to shop and celebrate their beauty in a palace. I also wanted my company to carry products that have been deemed essential for and desired by my consumers. We always stay abreast of current trends, new products, and hair care regimens to carry out these aims.

Our goal is to become the leading beauty supply in the Paramount area by providing excellent service. We also keep a competitive edge by selling our line of quality, ‘virgin’ Cambodian hair extensions, sourced directly from Southeast Asia. Lastly, we maintain reliable inventory – which includes a wide variety of the trendiest and highly sought out items that our patrons desire. At Queendom Essentials, we prioritize research, training, and education to provide our customers with the best shopping experience. These practices separate us from our local competitors because we offer a royal, one-stop retail experience for all hair-care and cosmetic needs. Given my childhood and early adult experiences shopping at beauty supplies, I love that my store operates in its own realm compared to others. Customers often tell my staff and me that they are most impressed with our friendly personalities and our knowledge of the products that we carry. There are thousands of products in a beauty supply, which can be overwhelming for consumers trying to decide what to purchase. We have some patrons who are ‘naturalista’s’ and want clean products without harsh chemicals.

Other customers may want toners to brighten their blonde or silver hair, or some patrons desire a deep conditioning treatment that will reverse prior damage from heat, dying, or bleaching their hair. We commonly service consumers who struggle with conditions such as postpartum hair shedding, psoriasis, or Alopecia and want our help to address those issues. Hence, we make it our duty to ask what they need, hear their stories, and know which aisle and product is most appropriate. Every client leaves our store understanding why the items they purchased are the best fit for their specific hair, and they are usually extremely grateful. I genuinely value providing excellent service. I know many of my customers by name, and I also remember what items they purchased last time they visited our store. When patrons return, I make sure to ask them how the products worked out for them. This level of attention is unique because my staff and I create an unparalleled shopping experience. We don’t just aim to build our sales, but we also build relationships with our customers.

For instance, Paramount has a sizeable Latinx population. Some of our customers are solely Spanish speaking and need help translating what they are looking for in English when they visit the store. My bilingual daughter speaks to these customers in Spanish to serve this clientele efficiently and translates for me. We appreciate that Paramount is a racially and culturally enriched community, and the residents have a range of hair textures. Some of our customers request products that work very well for them. We make sure to do our homework to serve all of our patrons properly. We believe it is essential to help eliminate the wealth disparities in the greater Los Angeles area. Hence, we support small businesses that manufacture skin and haircare products and more. We currently carry 100% handmade organic soaps, hair serums, and body butters by Black-owned manufacturers. I look forward to future collaborations with local small businesses who want to house their products in my store. I also keep business card holders at the front counter of my store, which showcases local companies that offer the community products or services. This is another way that I enjoy giving back.

We offer incentives to our customers regularly. Our rewards program lets customers earn points and receive discounts on future purchases. We often run great specials for our hair extensions and wigs as well. We have unique bundle packages on sale for many of our top of the line products during holidays. One of our best incentives is our layaway program for our Cambodian Hair Extensions. We request an initial $50 deposit, and customers can make payments towards their hair bundles until their balance is paid. Our patrons who desire to wear luxurious high-end extensions truly value our layaway program because it allows them to purchase expensive, quality hair without breaking their bank. Additionally, since we value education, our store offers incentives to the youth in our community. We are currently running a special that gives all students in the Paramount Unified School District 10% off any purchase over $25. Moreover, to encourage young people to get good grades, we give students 30% off any purchase over $55 if they obtained a 3.0 (‘B”) grade point average on their 20-week report card. Lastly, I should note that we are looking to hire a cosmetologist to begin offering salon services. We plan to hold our first free wig-install workshop soon.

Do you any memories from childhood that you can share with us?
Most of my favorite memories happened in South Los Angeles, specifically at Baldwin Hills Elementary School. I loved to dance as a kid. In the third grade, I created a 20 member girl group called Tough Girls, and I treated it like a real dance company. We had regular practices after school, and I expected all of my girls to show up. The best thing about Tough Girls is when my principal saw us practicing our dance to a popular Mariah Carey song. She liked it so much that she asked us to perform our choreography in front of the entire school! Even though I chickened out because I was shy – I still revel in knowing that our principal loved the dance performance by a group that I created and led. I felt honored, and to this day, I am elated by that memory.

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