First self-made millionaire businesswoman continues to inspire generations of entrepreneurs.
Building on the life, legacy, and impact of the ground-breaking Madam C.J. Walker—the visionary entrepreneur, philanthropist, and America’s first female self-made millionaire—a new haircare line that bears her name was launched by Sundial Brands, a manufacturer and distributor of organic skincare and haircare products for people of color. The Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture line is a four-collection, 25-product haircare line that hit shelves exclusively at Sephora and on Sephora.com this month.
“Madam C.J. Walker was the first person to devise and scale a business model that addressed the haircare and beauty needs of women of color, while also challenging the myopic ideals of the beauty industry at that time,” says Sundial Brands CEO Richelieu Dennis, who will lead a session at the Black Enterprise Entrepreneurs Summit along with Miss Jessie’s CEO Miko Branch on how to grow a multimillion-dollar business in a niche market. Sundial Brands flagship products are Shea Moisture and Nubian Heritage.
A beauty pioneer, a business woman, and American icon, Walker has been a source of inspiration and empowerment for men and women over the last 100 years.
Dennis understands this all too well. He teamed with fellow college graduate Nyema Tubman in 1992 to launch Sundial Brands. “We became street vendors (in New York) with very expensive college degrees,” he recalls. By conserving cash and living with 10 others in a cramped apartment, the duo managed to open as many as eight outlets over the years. By 2008, Sundial became so successful it received the BLACK ENTERPRISE Small Business Award for Emerging Company of the Year. Today, the company reportedly earns $200 million annually and its products can be found on the shelves of major retailers such as Macy’s, Whole Foods, Duane Reade, and Walmart.
In partnering with Sephora, Dennis notes, “this launch represents another step forward in our rich history and continues Madam C.J. Walkers’ legacy to help every woman feel confident to embark on the life she desires.”
Dennis adds that his company has spent a tremendous amount of time, energy, thought, and care working to ensure that this introduction of Walker’s brand to a new generation was done in a manner truly worthy of its namesake. “We’ve focused on a reimagination of the brand as Madam Walker may have done in the 21st century, with products created to focus on all hair textures/needs – whether coily, curly, wavy or straight – and a brand that still represents both community and women’s empowerment. This launch is also Sundial’s first foray into prestige retail.”
What has allowed Sundial to grow over the past 25 years is partnering with its retailers around a consumer that is valuable to them and by providing the natural products those consumers need. “Investment in our community is important to our bottom line,” Dennis says.