*Editor’s Note: Following our Live chat with Shea Moisture, the company opted to share a corporate statement with us which reinforces its commitment to the its core audience of women of color. The full statement can be found below:
For anyone who knows us (SheaMoisture) as a brand, you know that we could not let this article go unanswered. Not just because it was based on one account – with no outreach to us to clarify any of the misleading claims throughout the piece, but because it’s simply not an accurate account of who we are as a company, a brand, or people. We have to admit, though, it made for a great headline and click-bait.
We participate in hundreds of events each year – some run by our staff and others run by our partners. Either way, it is never appropriate for anyone to behave in a manner that is dismissive of any member of our community. We reached out to Raquel directly on Saturday when we saw the conversation happening and publicly extended our apologies for her experience with the representatives at our booth and for not feeling our SheaFam love. As we stated to her, we don’t take any of our community for granted and are a certified minority, black-owned, family-held business that has taken pride in serving our community for 25 years – when large conglomerates ignored women of color and simply marketed products to them vs. making products for them. We were there then – serving women who had historically been undeserved in the beauty industry – and that will never change (did we mention that we’re still in control of our company?).
We’ve never believed that one size fits all – especially for hair and skin needs, and today is no different. We’re proud to now self-manufacture more than 150 different hair care products to serve our community’s varying needs with specific formulations made for the individual – not the generalization or the stereotype. We do not believe that we should accept or adopt the thinking that has made it possible and easier for others to put any of us in a box. We have different hair and skin needs based on who we are as individuals. As a company, we have chosen to take a more thoughtful and specific approach to our products that is based on those needs – whether hair that is 4c, 3b, 2a, thick, thinning, damaged, dry, coily, curly, wavy, straight…or skin that is dry, oily, or distressed by psoriasis, eczema or any number of conditions – we’ve created a product for it. We make no apologies for solving for and speaking to our community as human beings and not as data points. It is the only way that we’ve been able to consistently address issues that few were willing to recognize on behalf of our communities – and continuing to make the highest quality products possible with natural, certified organic and fair trade ingredients continues to be our commitment for the future.
So, unlike what the readers of this article were mistakenly led to believe and what many people have unfortunately become accustomed to with other brands, we don’t have to change our award-winning formulations to appeal to someone they weren’t made for. We simply innovate new products to solve the needs our community identifies. This is true innovation and it allows us to serve in a much more personalized and customized way. It’s allowing us to raise the bar for how other companies are recognizing and serving all women – not a chosen few – with more.
As for the “rebranding” claim, there’s not much to say there other than it’s inaccurate. We’re proud of who we are, how we got here – and most importantly, who got us here. For a long time, we said that the only place in America where segregation was still legal was the beauty aisle. So we waited 16 years to bring our products to retail because we refused to operate within a system where our community was not served well with choice, access or inclusion. Let’s be clear. Separate but equal has never worked in any arena, including beauty. So, we were proud with Break the Walls to tell the stories of so many women who ever experienced being underserved by the beauty industry – and we will continue to tell those stories (and by the way, that social post with that cute little white baby, was posted more than a year before we launched Break the Walls, so no correlation there – but really, how can anyone hate an innocent child? They do not hate, this society teaches them to hate. Oh, and that CurlyNikki post failed to acknowledge that the product in question was formulated for an international market, with different needs and government regulations – but including it in the article was clever, though still misleading).
Regarding one of the core questions posed in the article – “As a company expands, what or who gets erased in the process?” – we can’t speak for other brands, but from our vantage point, no one gets erased because our commitment is unwavering and we have proven that time and time again for four generations. We share the same concerns, disappointment and angst that our community has every time our support helps to grow a business and it forgets its roots. Rest assured, we will never forget our roots and we will always hold up our community. Our family has understood this since 1912 – the value of listening to underserved consumers (whether the Naturalistas who began with us and empowered women from all backgrounds who now embrace their natural beauty as a result) and delivering on their unmet needs. We are moving forward to build this brand into the first global, family-owned brand with the purpose of our community at its core – one in which anyone who has supported us from the beginning until now can be even more proud – and there’s nothing disappointing in that. The only thing we’re looking to change is the world – and the way it does business. We think it’s time that somebody did.
The article also included this link to an article written by our founder and CEO, where he discusses what it means to be a black-owned business in the beauty industry, challenges facing black-owned businesses (including access to capital), opportunities for others, and building a company that has purpose at its center. We hope you’ll take a moment to read this as well. It represents well – and accurately – who we are and what we believe. Thanks so much – we look forward to continuing the conversations.