2016 State of Black America Spotlight Essay

 

Breaking the Walls in Business: Entrepreneurial Pathways to Purpose, Profit and Perpetuity
Richelieu Dennis
Founder and CEO, Sundial Brands

Being a Black-owned business in the beauty industry presents a unique set of challenges. Through the years, we’ve received questions and judgments about our products and our business that I’m pretty sure few, if any, white-owned businesses have ever had to answer – like “Since you’re Black, your products are just for Black people, right?” or “We don’t really have a place in our store for a hip-hop beauty brand.” Now, I’ve loved rap music since the Sugar Hill Gang, Slick Rick and Doug E. Fresh, but I couldn’t understand how personal care and beauty products made from organic and natural ingredients that simply serve people according to their hair or skin care need – whether curly, coily, wavy, straight, damaged, dry, oily or other – could be labeled as “hip-hop.”  Then, it hit me. They weren’t seeing the products. They were only seeing me. 

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