Last summer, the Black community found out some of their favorite Black haircare products are no longer Black-owned. As a user of those products – Carol’s Daughter, Shea Moisture, and Cantu – the realization was a rough blow. It was bad enough that they weren’t Black-owned, but it was even worse finding out white organizations had profited off our dollars for years – silently taking over Black companies.
After I got over the hurt, I did a bit of research and discovered some of the original founders were either forced to sell or needed assistance in breaking into the mainstream market. Many stayed on as the face of the company and assisted them in the interim but still, somehow it stings. It begs the question: does a Black cosmetics company sell, or sell out?
For Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter, her brand had success early on. Seen on the shelves in Sephora, Ulta, Target and a plethora of salons in the nation – Carol’s Daughter was loved by the Black community as it was made by us, for us. However, when sales plummeted in 2010-2011, the hair care giant had to file for bankruptcy. Thinking on her feet, the entrepreneur teamed up with L’Oréal to help continue the vision and service her rising customer base. Many thought the customers would be upset, but since she very transparently announced the relationship on her social media, fans continued to show great interest as they had a deep emotional attachment to the brand.
“Her love for that community, and love for Black women and economic possibility for Black people is as much a part of her creation story and her narrative as whatever her products would do for your hair,” Noliwe Rooks, professor at Cornell University stated. However, after the L’Oréal merge, specific day-one fans felt some type of way seeing the brands new ad’s featuring more racially ambiguous women – feeling like she sold out and overlooked her original demographic.
I understand that loyal customers felt second best after L’Oréal took over, however I do not believe Carol’s Daughter sold out. I think it’s very hard to engage with new customers and markets, and a little assistance (or a lot) shouldn’t cancel you.