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The Washington Independent
The Washington Independent

Richelieu Dennis' Journey Through the Beauty Industry

Richelieu Dennis' Journey Through the Beauty Industry

Success didn't come easy for billionaire beauty industry's Richelieu Dennis. But today, his success provides him with the responsibility and opportunity to build a better world for people of color.

Candice Burns
Jan 09, 2022

Success didn't come easy for billionaire beauty industry's Richelieu Dennis. But today, his success provides him with the responsibility and opportunity to build a better world for people of color.

Rich got his start selling beauty products in Harlem, like shea butter and African soap. He gained a cult following by providing healthy, natural products tailored to black women.

Today, he is CEO of the global company Sundial Brands, a company worth nearly $1 billion. His company makes products that have completely changed the beauty products industry for black people. His SheaMoisture brand, which was released in 2008, achieved remarkable success.

He continues to keep the focus on natural products for black women that nourish through eco-friendly ingredients. But, his investment in beauty goes beyond only building a successful beauty products company. Rich is dedicated to giving women products that help them to embrace their beauty as people of color.

Rich has used his success to give back to the world community, as well.

Community Commerce is an offshoot of Sundial Brands, dedicated to giving minority women resources to build entrepreneurial and educational opportunities. They support women and girls with entrepreneurial fellowships and mentor programs, investing in their businesses, helping them to live more empowered lives.

Sundial Brands also invests in women's cooperatives in poor countries, working with them to produce coconut oil, soap, and other natural products. Their investment in the people involved in these cooperatives helps them to lift themselves out of poverty. Sundial helps entire communities, building wells and schools.

Some of Rich's greatest examples growing up were women. His grandmother supported his family in Liberia by selling shea butter products in their village.

Growing up in Liberia in an atmosphere of violence and upheaval, Rich's grandmother sold those products in the markets to fund his mother's education. His mother followed that example to put him through school, as well.

Through this help, Richelieu lifted himself out of poverty and grew to help black people through his company.

Rich experienced racial bias shopping in Liberia, being followed and searched upon leaving stores, only because he was a man of color. This inspired him to build Sundial Brands, a brand for multi-racial people, as he wanted to improve the retail experience of people who have experienced bias.

Richelieu Dennis’s products are now available in the mass marketplace, a victory for his mission to get natural products for multi-racial people widely available. He has also achieved success in changing product placement practices on store shelves, campaigning for shelf positioning that promotes inclusion. Success in changing the overall thinking about ethnic hair products has helped Rich change society for the better.

Rich argues that his company has helped women of color move from influencing the mainstream to becoming part of the mainstream, becoming equal in many ways to other demographics in the overall market.

Sundial's mission of building a successful company while also empowering black and multi-racial women has succeeded. Building a more inclusive world for future generations of entrepreneurs and consumers, and ending poverty, is the company's enduring legacy. Rich's efforts have made building future businesses more possible. He set out on a path to help people of color, and considering his remarkable success, he has made good on his mission.

Candice Burns | Candice Burns has worked in the real estate industry for a long time. She understands the importance of a home for long-term happiness and has dedicated her career to placing people in the home of their dreams. Candice's passions for helping others during difficult times and a strong interest in high-end, luxury homes drove her to explore real estate. She's been in the real estate business for ten years and has helped over 3,500 people find homes during that period. She earned a bachelor's degree in business administration from the University of Los Angeles. She's worked with some of Los Angeles' most prestigious real estate firms.


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