A number of brands that served the black community in the 1900s are being revived by black women entrepreneurs
A number of brands that served the black community in the 1900s are being revived by black women entrepreneurs who continue their legacy.
The New York Times reports on brands like Fashion Fair and MADAM by Mrs. CJ Walker have been relaunched and their packaging and marketing have been updated. However, the brands’ goal of generating wealth within the Black community has not changed.
The Fashion Fair, which sold a chocolate-raspberry lipstick that was a staple for black women, disappeared from shelves when the company filed for bankruptcy in 2018.
The lipstick came to life again, however, when the former executive of Johnson Publishing Desiree Rogersand Cheryl Mayberry McKissackformer chief operating officer of Johnson Publishing, bought the brand in 2019 and showcased the lipstick and several other cosmetics at an event at the Century Association in Manhattan.
playwright Lynn Nottagewho attended the event, told the Times that Fashion Fair cosmetics were a staple in her childhood home growing up.
“Growing up, fashion fairs were a big part of my household,” Nottage said in an email.
“It represented black beauty, it represented sophistication, and it was the first makeup I ever tried on in the mirror.”
Black entrepreneurs grew out of necessity in the early 20th century when Jim Crow laws and widespread discrimination limited economic opportunities for blacks, who were also barred from shopping in white-owned stores. As a result, black businesses, including beauty salons, barber shops, and grocery stores, began popping up in black communities across the country.
Madam CJ Walker founded her brand in the early 1900s to help black people who were losing their hair due to illness and poor living conditions. The Walker brand was bought by the founder of Sundial Brands Richelieu Dennis in 2013. When Sundial was bought by Unilever four years later, MADAM worked with Walmart to revitalize the brand.
Dennis even bought Walker’s old house in Irvington, New York to use as an incubator for black women entrepreneurs. He also donated $100 million to women entrepreneurs of color.
A’Lelia Packs, a MADAM counselor and Walker’s great-great-granddaughter, told the Times that people often ask her for the original formula, and while she has it, the formula has been updated for today. However, the company’s goal is still largely the same. According to Sundial CEO Cara SabinePart of Walker’s goal was to help other black women become self-employed entrepreneurs and train them to become stylists and sales representatives.
Black businesses have seen a resurgence since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, black women and men entrepreneurs still make up only 2.4% of all entrepreneurs in the US today.
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