Carol’s Daughter is Our Daughter: The Pros and Cons of Being A Black Brand
Black Enterprise Magazine July/August 2018 Issue

Lisa Price, founder and president of Carol’s Daughter, proudly announced recently that her company “joins the L’Oreal family.” After being in business for 20 years, she was acquired to expand “the multicultural consumer segment” , L’Oreal USA’s president Frederic Roze, stated. Understandably, opinions were mixed. Soon, the Facebook and Twitter comments started flooding in. “Don’t change the quality!” “I hope the prices come down.” “I don’t trust L’Oreal!” “Congrats!” “Sell out.”

As both an entrepreneur and a consumer of the product, I completely understand both sides of the argument. As a business owner, the bottom line at the end of each day is “am I profitable?” In fact, earlier this year, there were stories that Carol’s Daughter Stores LLC, filed a Chapter 11 petition in Manhattan’s bankruptcy court. If a company is faced with closing its doors permanently or being acquired, people would surely understand her decision, right? As a consumer, however, it’s not that simple in our community. This was “our company” who understood (and marketed to) our unique needs. Now, a large corporation was going to be in charge.

The reality is that most products for African American consumers are already made by large corporations drives home the point more. This company was one of the “last” black owned beauty businesses. Why is our community so tied to “our businesses”? Here, are a few thoughts about OBWB (“Owning Businesses While Black”):

You are Not a “Not-For-Profit” Organization. “Selling out” is not loyal, the customer will argue. We supported you during the ups and downs! Now that there is a proverbial check on the table, the community feels abandoned. As an owner, however, you must wear a different lens. Your focus is to get a return on your investment. In short, Ms. Price is in business to make a profit. I was in her shoes, and there were many days I wondered if I were really running a “NOT-for-profit” organization. And ultimately, I kept it “real”…and my business closed. In sum, as a business owner, you must keep your personal feelings aside from business decisions.

Expanding Is The Goal Of Every Business. If the reports were true that Ms. Price filed bankruptcy earlier this year, that means at a minimum, the businesses expenses exceeded its revenue. People look at popular businesses and automatically assume there are profitable. Not necessarily. If the business was strapped for cash, its potential for growth was limited. L’Oreal brings cash and business operation experience to the table. Additionally, improvements to the quality of the products are possible with the company’s science and technological expertise. Remember, growth is the goal, and after 20 years, it’s possible that the entrepreneur had carried the “child” as far as it could go.

When you are the owner of a business that markets to the black community, and you do a great job, the community embraces you. As the former owner of a day spa and salon, I had many first time guests say “I went out of my way to support (a black owned business).” People feel a great sense of pride. As such, we should be extremely proud of what Carol’s Daughter and its owner accomplished. It navigated the beauty game and a volatile economy for 20 years and built a successful brand. I’m confident that she will continue to ensure that the brand grows stronger than ever, and for that, the business community at large, and our community, should beam brightly.

Nicole Cober, Esq. is a partner at Cober Johnson, a law firm focusing on trademarks, brand licensing and small business consulting. She is a former small biz owner of the award winning chain, Soul…Day Spa and Salon. She is also a Legal Consultant for Washington DC’s NewsChannel 8 and author of soon-to-be released book: “CEO of My Soul: The Dos and Don’ts of Small Biz.” Follow her on Twitter @CoberJohnson and like her on Facebook @facebook.com/CoberJohnson. Visit her website at www.coberjohnson.com.

Join the Conversation

As a trailblazer in the small business community for nearly a decade, Nicole Cober is an advocate for the small business community. For eight years, Ms. Cober owned and operated a day spa and hair salon chain that served as a revitalization catalyst in a developing area of the nation's capital. During that time, she received national media coverage regarding small business management and entrepreneurism in various publications such as People, Essence, Allure, Entrepreneur, The Washingtonian, The Washington Post, Upscale and Black Enterprise. Ms. Cober was also featured on the CBS Morning News, BET and the reality show, "Ambush Makeover." The salon and spa received recognition by the Washington City Paper as "The Best Stylist" and "Best Spa" and Ms. Cober's commitment to the community was on display annually when she used her business for philanthropy by provided complementary services to Rachael's Women's Shelter. Ms. Cober blends both her legal and business skills together to offer a uniquely powerful list of services for clients. Affectionately known as "The Lawyer-preneur," she now seeks to empower start-ups and local small businesses with by creating effective business, branding and growth strategies. Ms. Cober is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley as well as Howard University School of Law. She was a judicial law clerk for the Chief Judge of the DC Court of Appeals and worked for a number of years at Dickstein Shapiro as a litigation attorney, specializing in employment and insurance coverage law. Currently, she is a regular contributor to Black Enterprise and Citibank's Women and Co. as well as a legal consultant for NewsChannel 8 WJLA. Ms. Cober is also a public speaker, coach, a contributor to Pulse Magazine, a publication devoted to international spa management, and soon to be author who will publish a book later this year titled “CEO of My Soul”, which chronicles the do's and dont's of her early days as an entrepreneur. Follow her on twitter @CoberJohnson


MORE ON BlackEnterprise.com