African Entrepreneur Has Revived Historic Black Haircare Line

 Liberian-born businessman Richelieu Dennis is relaunching history-making haircare product line created by Madam C.J. Walker, America’s first self-made female and African-American millionaire, with his New York-based company, Sundial Brands. Dennis is hoping to help put Walker and her accomplishments on the same pedestal as other well-known beauty influencers who built massive empires.

“We want to tell the broader story; we don’t want this to just be a ‘Hey, she had a company and she was successful.’ It was what she did, how she did it, how she impacted a world that didn’t pay any attention to women that looked like her,” Richelieu Dennis, the CEO of Sundial brands told Refinery29.

Richelieu Dennis came to the United States to attend renowned business school Babson College. When he graduated in 1991, he was unable to return to Liberia because of civil war. Driven by his passion for entrepreneurship and sustained by a vision to fill unmet consumer needs, Richelieu partnered with his best friend and college roommate, Nyema Tubman, to pursue a bold concept: address skin and hair care issues traditionally ignored by mass market companies. Years later, Sundial brands has achieved massive success with brands like Nubian Heritage and natural-hair care favorite SheaMoisture.

The Walker project was a true labor of love and took nearly a decade to bring together.  Along the way, the company connected with A’Lelia Bundles, Madam Walker’s great-great-granddaughter as well as her official historian and biographer, to make sure that the principles remained true to Walker’s aesthetic throughout the re-imagination.

The line — which goes by the name Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture and is available in stores now — is taking what Walker originally envisioned and elevating it with new, modern ingredients for the 21st century (no more petrolatum or sulfur, which were present in Walker’s products more than 100 years ago). There are popular natural ingredients, like coconut and Jamaican black-castor oils, alongside deep conditioners and blowout creams — all of which help users achieve another main goal of Walker’s: healthy hair.


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