The race to diversify Corporate America’s beauty portfolios and its effects on a generation
Black Owned and operated natural hair care company Mielle Organics, recently announced its acquisition by Procter & Gamble (P&G) leaving many concerned for the future of the company and its potential impact on the black community. Acquisitions of this magnitude provided small businesses with an influx of capital in order to capture exponential market share as brands seek to reach a larger and more diverse audiences. Black owned companies have proven their ability to build lucrative brands with examples that include Shea Moisture and Carol’s daughter being acquired by Unilever and L’Oreal respectively; but is this trend a good thing? Many have criticized these companies for changing their formulas after being acquired and even claims of hair loss surfaced leaving many unsure about this acquisition means for the future of Mielle Organics. Let's take a closer look at the history of these mega giants, the beauty industry and its impact on the Black community.
Table of Contents
How Black Owned hair care products revolutionized the hair care industry.
Why do consumers of all textures seek Black owned and operated hair products?
The Rise of Mielle Organics Natural Hair Products
Why acquisition lead to mistrust in for many black consumers
What’s next for Mielle Organics?
Top 10 Black Owned and Operated hair care product alternatives
How Black Owned hair care products revolutionized the hair care industry.
In the US, and many parts of the world, products sold in local beauty supply store in minority communities have been owned, operated and manufactured by Asian companies. Hair care for many, is a ritual that dates back hundreds of years and is still very much a part of our identity today producing a very lucrative and sustainable opportunity for manufactures. With very little regulation, the majority of products sold in these local stores have not been regulated by the FDA despite researchers providing a growing list of over 5,000 toxic chemicals present and unlisted on the label. Many of the chemicals found in commercial relaxers, dye, and styling hair products designed for black women have been linked to long-term health risks, such as cancer, hormone disruption, respiratory issues, fibroids, skin irritation, asthma and more. As consumers desired safe alternatives, finding products was futile. In recognizing this gap in the market place, many black women resorted to creating handmade products from home remedies creating a niche within this billion dollar industry. These change leaders set the bar high for equitable products, surpassing the quality of mega producer thus creating the shift to clean beauty products as we know it today.
2. Why do consumers of all textures seek Black owned and operated hair care products?
The internet provided easy access to reports and clinical studies over the years, encouraging many black women to used their entrepreneurial spirit to create clean beauty products for natural hair. This surge in small black owned and operated businesses producing homemade products, focused on quality ingredients. They not only to protect and nourish the hair and skin, but also alleviated the mounting concerns of the long term health risk associated with these hair products. Companies like Curls and Camille Rose have centered their existence around black owned brands with high quality ingredients, under the leadership of women who have experienced the same realities as their customers when trying to find quality products. This shift in production gave way to the clean beauty products industry. Notably, these benefits reached far beyond black women and natural hair as more consumers' with varying textures desired safer products at an affordable price point. Legacy brand like Kerastate are known for producing highly performatives products, historically only accessible through high end salons. Products like their Resistance Extentioniste Hair Mask retail for $68 even today. Health conscious hair products at an affordable price point were advantageous for all women widening the competitive landscape and bridged the gap for all women who valued quality hair products.
3. The Rise of Mielle Organics Natural Hair Products
Mielle Organics Founder & CEO, Monique Rodriguez, is a trailblazer in the beauty industry. Mielle Organics is a brand of natural, organic beauty products founded by Monique Rodriguez in 2014 when her desire to use clean, natural, and organic beauty products for her family was unmet. Their mission is to provide quality, natural, and organic products that nourish, restore, and protect the natural beauty of women of color’s hair and skin. Mielle Organics has a wide range of products including shampoos, conditioners, masks, styling products, oils, leave-in conditioners, and gels. All of their products are made with natural ingredients such as aloe vera, shea butter, coconut oil, and honey.
These ingredients are specifically chosen for their ability to hydrate, nourish, and protect the hair and skin of women of color. Mielle Organics also offers pre-shampoo treatments, detanglers, and styling creams. These products are designed to provide extra moisture, reduce frizz, and add definition to curls. They also have a range of products for men, including beard balms, oils, and washes. Mielle Organics has some great features that make their products stand out from other natural, organic beauty brands. Their products are free of any harsh chemicals or preservatives, making them a great choice for those with sensitive skin. They are also cruelty-free and vegan-friendly, so you can be sure that no animals were harmed in the making of their products. In addition to their commitment to natural ingredients and ethical production practices, Mielle Organics also makes sure their products are affordable. Their prices are competitive with other brands, so you don’t have to worry about breaking the bank to get quality products.
In addition to creating natural beauty products, Monique is also a strong advocate for social justice and empowering women. She uses her platform to raise awareness about the importance of self-care and self-love, as well as to encourage others to pursue their dreams and follow their passions. Monique Rodriguez's success as an entrepreneur and businesswoman is a testament to her passion for natural and holistic beauty. Her commitment to creating products that are both effective and safe has earned her the respect of her peers, customers, and industry leaders. Monique is a true inspiration for anyone looking to make a difference in the beauty industry.
Earlier this week, P&G announced bringing the Mielle brand under its corporate umbrella. The acquisition by P&G is a major milestone for Mielle Organics and the natural hair care industry. This acquisition is a sign of the times, as more and more companies are making an effort to diversify their portfolio as African American consumers continue to be a formidable force in economically driving spending in the beauty industry. P&G is one of the largest consumer goods companies in the world, and the acquisition will give Mielle Organics the resources and support it needs to expand its reach and product offering. It is the first major acquisition of a Black-owned beauty brand by a large multinational corporation.
4. Why acquisition lead to mistrust for many black consumers
SheaMoisture founded in 1991 and Carol’s Daughter in 1993, stand as a case study for why criticism has been harsh once ownership changes. Cause for concern comes from the documented changes that many say have affected the quality and integrity of products once ownership shifted out of the hands of Black ownership and control. Both companies trailblazer a path for quality, homemade products within the hair care industry carving out a path for other black women to enter the industry. They successfully scaled operations to produce multimillion dollar revenue gaining never before seen market share and later sold to their competitors, leaving many long time supporters unclear about the future direction of the companies.
In April 2014, Carol's Daughter was sold to L’Oréal for an undisclosed amount and Shea Moisture, which first sold to Sundial, was eventually acquired by Unilever in 2018 along with Nubian Heritage and Madam C.J. Walker hair care lines. The main complaint voiced by customers is that the company is no longer Black-owned. Customers feel that corporations like Unilever and L’Oreal do not understand the unique needs of the Black hair, and that the takeover was more about profiting from the brand’s success than delivering quality products to its loyal customer base, even though they have the resources to do so.
Shea Moisture, under its new ownership, reformulated their popular hair products in 2017. According to the company, the goal of the reformulation was to improve the performance of their products and make them more accessible to a wider range of consumers. However, customers have reported that the reformulated products are less effective than the original formula, and that the smell is not as pleasant. In addition to the complaints about the reformulated products, customers have also raised concerns about the ingredients that were used in the new formula, even taking to YouTube to express their issues. The new formula contained synthetic ingredients, introducing concerns about potential health risks. Shea Moisture also came under fire from customers who claim the brand’s hair care products caused hair loss and other damaging side effects. Over the years, Carol’s Daughter has been met with the same criticism and concerns from its longtime supporters. Youtubers have included products from the brand in their do not use list because of parabens and silicones present in some of its products and issues around hair loss issues.
It’s important to note that not all users are experiencing hair loss and thinning. In fact, many have praised the brand for its natural ingredients and effective results as they broaden their customer base. If you’re currently using any product and are experiencing any adverse side effects from using any product, it is best to stop using them and contact a healthcare professional as soon as possible.
5. What’s next for Mielle Organics?
Only time will tell how Mielle’s acquisition will resonate with its long time supporters in the long run. Once the story broke, internet chatter revealed tons of Mielle Organic fans were stocking up on products in preparation for the changing of the guards. Despite the history and fears associated with black owners relinquishing control, what owners can take away is how to better transition in the future. We can only hope that Mielle has learned enough from its predecessors in this deal with P&G.
With that being said, consumers have so many choices when it comes to selecting a company to meet their beauty needs. Ecoslay locally produced its 100% handmade products like their Banana Cream Deep Conditioner and other sustainable made organic hair products in Atlanta, GA. Soultanicals receives rave reviews for its vegan and organic Knot Sauce Coil Detangler as the holy grail of detangling products. It's up to you where the strength of your buying power goes. Should companies continue to scale in order to sell later? Should ownership and control remain in the hands of its founders? Share your thoughts below.
Click here for a list of our Top 9 Black Owned and Operated need to know hair products