Biloxi salon owner installs wig, hair care vending machine on Keesler Base
BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - You know what they say ‘happiness is a good hair day’ and for some military women on the Keesler Air Force base, that might be a new reality. COVID-19 shut down military bases causing many Gulf Coast businesses to suffer financially, including salons.
However, that didn’t stop one Biloxi salon owner from turning a negative into a positive with a new business venture.
Krystal Ben, owner of Hair Fetish in Biloxi, installed the first wig vending machine on the Keesler Air Force in Biloxi. During the peak of COVID-19, the base was shutdown for eight weeks, and that caused some financial difficulties for her business.
“Groups of five to ten women would come to me off base, but they couldn’t because they were stuck on base because of COVID-19,” said Ben. “In the process, I was opening a second location in Wiggins and my numbers were going down at my Biloxi location.”
Ben said a big chunk of her revenue came from military women. She said because the women couldn’t come to the salon, she decided to bring the salon to the women, with a one-stop shop experience.
She said she’s seen a lot of vending machine with hair extensions, and lashes, but not so many with wigs and hair care.
“I wanted to make wigs and hair care accessible to them (women) due to them not being able to leave the base,“ said Ben.
She said she signed a contract with Keesler which gives her the opportunity to put a vending machine anywhere on the base. But for now, the first one is located inside the Exchange, right across from Starbucks.
Even though the machine has only been there for two weeks, she said she’s still seen a great response from women who’ve come during their lunch break.
“It feels amazing. I can’t even explain it,” said Ben. “I just want to make it as easy as possible.”
Not only does the vendor carry wigs, but it also includes hair care products and flat irons. Ben said the prices for the vending wigs range from $130-210, which she says is relatively lower than most.
According to a recent article, Exchanges worldwide, including those in the Pacific region, carry more than 6,500 multicultural products to include cosmetics, hair and skin care for all backgrounds.
“For it to be from a Black woman, if no one knows how about it feels to have a bad hair day, it has to come from us,” said Ben.
But, she doesn’t plan to stop there. She said she plans on installing more vending machines in various places on the base, airport and college campuses.
If you’d like to know more about the products inside the machine, click here.
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