SheaMoisture f’ked up.
By now you’re probably aware of why the beauty brand has been trending on social media platforms but if not here’s a brief summary:
Earlier this week SheaMoisture released a new advertisement, one in a series of campaigns, named #HairHate which focused on women discussing the hate they’ve received about their hair. While the ad opened with a Black woman it quickly focused on the stories of two white women discussing their personal experience with hatred toward their hair. Fans of the brand were outraged for many reasons–mainly because the ad left out their core consumer; Black women with kinky, coarser hair types. The same group of women who are known to receive the most #HairHate within society.
Although founder and CEO of Sundial Brands, Richelieu Dennis quickly pulled the advertisement and issued an apology many consumers are still set on boycotting the brand.
We’re all for letting our dollars do the talking but here’s why you should reconsider boycotting:
SheaMoisture is a pioneer of the natural hair movement and textured beauty market
Before brands like SheaMoisture arrived, Black women were a severely underserved market in the beauty realm. Where previously brands marketed products to change and manipulate Black women’s hair to be more acceptable for public consumption or just easier to mange–newcomers like SheaMoisture provided consumers the products they needed to wear their hair naturally and keep it healthy. Their success has forced the market to change thus forcing older brands to create products to address our needs and encouraging new product makers to create businesses and products that cater to textured hair.
They provide quality natural products at affordable prices
Natural ingredients are expensive! As such it’s hard to find a natural hair brand that offers a vast collection of products with varying ingredients at affordable prices. SheaMoisture manages to do both with over 150 products priced at under $15.
They’re a Black-owned business poised to breakthrough the glass ceiling
There’s a lot of rumors floating around that the brand is owned by ex-Presidential candidate Mitt Romney or L’Oréal. Both of those rumors are incorrect.
In 2014, Carols Daughter, the popular natural hair brand founded by Lisa Price, was sold to L’Oréal for an undisclosed amount. While in 2015, SheaMoisture took on an investment partnership with Bain Capital Private Equity, which valued the Brand at an estimated $700 million. Although Romney is one of the founders of Bain Capital he cut ties with the firm more than a decade before the deal occured. Further more their investment in Sundial Brand is of a minority stake meaning at least 51% is still owned by Richelieu Dennis.
With a $700 million dollar value and significant shelf space at many drugstore locations, beauty stores, and large retailers this Black-owned business is at the cusp of being one of the few Black-owned beauty brands able to compete alongside the long-time top brands in the market.
They give back to our community
SheaMoisture sources its products from communities throughout the world. Funding those communities with training and infrastructure to help them manufacture their own products. SheaMoisture also gives 10% of its community sales to women-led organizations that economically empower women, their families and communities throughout the US and Africa. In addition to funds, SheaMoisture often donates products to organizations catering to women in need and provides grants to organizations through their Sofi Tucker Foundation.
They’ve always represented and addressed Black women needs
While many will attest to the poor direction of the current ad, in whole, SheaMoisture has always represented Black women in their advertising campaigns and that hasn’t changed with this singular mistake.
SheaMoisture actually listens to their consumers
The backlash SheaMoisture received from their ad was swift and within hours of the news hitting several major news outlets, the brand not only issued an apology they pulled the ad down and replied to several complaints on their social media platforms. Last night, CEO issued yet another statement of clarity for the people outside looking in on why their consumers were angry–if you read the comments like we do (don’t ever read comments online if you want to keep your faith in humanity) you know there were hundreds of women and men who just didn’t get it. But the CEO does and not only did he state that but he defended his angry consumers. How sway?!
via Fast Company:
“It just shows the level of love and passion people have for the brand, and how much they want to make sure it continues to stand for them, even as it starts to broaden its audience, they want to make sure they’re not left behind,” says Richelieu. “And that’s clear to us. We need to make sure we spend the time engaging with that community, encouraging them, and letting them know that just because we’re growing doesn’t mean they’re less important. in fact, they become more important because they’re the ones who have always advocated for us.”
He says he recognizes the larger issue here, that goes far beyond a haircare product. The racial stereotypes that have impacted Black women, and their lack of representation in media and advertising, were not adequately taken into consideration. “To equate their struggles with hair to those of other women, is in their minds trivializing their struggles, and we can’t forget that,” says Richelieu. “The people who are unhappy here aren’t necessarily saying they don’t like white women. What they are saying is, for decades they’ve been underserved and white women have plenty of products on the shelves and advertising aimed at them, and that we should keep our focus on our audience, and not lose that focus just because we’re broadening our audience.”
SheaMoisture has operated for years and though they’ve had to make changes after taking on an investor to keep their company operating they have continued to keep Black women at the forefront of the conversation successfully for the last 25 years. The brand is expanding, that’s what we want and to appease investors they have to bring in new audiences and cash flows. While their latest ad struck the wrong tone with audiences it’s clear to see they are all about keeping their core audience.
So let us keep airing our grievances but let’s also take note and support those that listen, hear and support us in return.
- UPDATE: CEO of Shea Moisture appeared on The Breakfast Club to dispel some of the rumors about their company and discuss the controversy ad. See his interview below.