“We’re not perfect, we’re not always going to get it right.” SheaMoisture CEO Responds to Backlash

The popular Natural Haircare brand, SheaMoisture, stepped into it big time when they released this short video ad on Monday:

As a collective, Black women were pissed, citing that the ad targeted white women, while neglecting the kinky-textured black women that put the brand on the map in the first place.

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The internet outrage was swift and brutal. Read about it HERE. Ultimately, SheaMoisture opted to pull the ad and release an apology via social media (read about it HERE), but it wasn’t enough.

Folks felt Sheamoisture got “put on” with the Black dollar, and now that they’ve gotten their coins they are moving on to the white dollar. Tres tres Hollywood, as they say in France. Okay, they don’t but y’all get the idea. In fact,  Kanye said it best:

“And when he get on he’ll leave your ass for a white girl.”

But all is not lost. As I told you on Monday, I wasn’t joining the boycott. We are sometimes too quick with the pitchforks, and I for one, want to see the brand succeed and continue to do good work in our community.

Sundial Brands co-founder and CEO Richelieu Dennis, feels the same way. He sat down with Fast Company to share his perspective and how he hopes the brand can move forward from this public relations nightmare:

“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.”

As for the ad, which discussed “hair hate” but neglected to include the hair textures that receive the most hair hate in the world, Dennis recognized the faux pas:

“To equate their struggles with hair to those of other women, is in their minds trivializing their struggles, and we can’t forget that…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.”

Here’s what Dennis says they should have done instead:

What we should’ve done is maybe a mini-documentary to tell the whole story, then take snippets from that for social posts,” says Richelieu. “We could’ve said, let’s do many more hair textures instead of just two or three. There are definitely lessons here and we’re not perfect, we’re not always going to get it right. But what we are always going to do is learn from it.”

He’s hopeful, however, that this experience, will only better the company:

“I think this is the beginning of a wonderful opportunity for us to engage with women around these issues, and we’ll take some punches for it, but in the end I think it’s well worth it to have the conversation..No one paid attention to these issues until a brand like ours comes along, and rightfully so it should be a platform for them to get their message out and they’re doing that. It just hurts today.”

Here’s a video they released last month, before Monday’s fuck up:

Thoughts?

Well Hello! My name is Lisa and you’ve stumbled upon my own little corner of the world. I’m a lipstick-loving, high heel junkie, mom, and wife. When I’m not here bringing you the latest in beauty, fashion, hot topics, and bits and pieces of my life with my family, you can find me over on youtube swatching lipsticks and sharing my latest natural hairstyles. Make sure you also follow me on Instagram and Snapchat under my brand name Lisa A La Mode. I’m a real person. I promise.

13 Comments
  1. Yeahhhh, ummm, nooo! No by all counts of the word, no. I used this product because it did exactly what it said it was going to do for my black hair. What I’m most offended by is now they’re trying to smooth out the mistake, but in a way that still gives it that vanilla edge and saying, wait…it’ll all be just fine.

    Question is, why do we (Black people) have to keep including the Caucasian race into our everyday routines, specifically our hair routines. True, for years we had to work with what was put out there for the White race. All the while, the products were damaging and demeaning to us as a race. For years we had to live by the standards of conformity of wear it straight or don’t even consider coming into the office with the Afro, braids or locs. Even Lena Horne had to go to Max Factor and beg and plead for a makeup shade that would fit her skin tone. As a woman approaching 60, I still recall when I was allowed to wear stockings as a young girl and we’d have to search and look for browner shades other than nude to accompany our outfits. So with that said, isn’t this just another “dummying down” of the Black race to fit within the demographics they seek to now attract. If that is their purpose then establish a base line product for the White race and let them roll with it.

  2. So, now my question is, with Shea Moisture wanting to expand their brand and pull in other women with other hair textures, are they going to change the ingredients within their products to best fit ALL of whom they are trying to capture or will there be different creams and shampoos and conditioners for each texture?? Because if they are going to change the products that were already made for specific hair textures to fit “all” or “most” hair types then Shea Moisture still isn’t doing us any justice.

  3. I thought the response appropriate and sincere. We’ll see what changes. Kudos to the company for finally getting it. Give them a chance to readjust their efforts.

  4. Sorry,but this goes beyond a boycott, he needs to be cancelled and let me tell you why. His whole marketing team and upper management is run by white women. Not one black women in upper management, which explains a lot. He has gradually and strategically been moving in a direction to erase black women from his marketing target and replacing them with non black women. I noticed it last year with that bullshit knock down those walls campaign which at the time I thought he had created a solution to a problem that never existed. All in an attempt to get out of the ethnic aisle so he can be in the mainstream aisle. I say this because this is just one example of a disturbing trend among black men who reach a certain level of success. The black men whether in business, movies, music, sports… you name it, will use black women for the come up and then throw them away when they have the opportunity to get with Becky. But my biggest frustration comes from black women who willingly cosign to their own eraser. We have no sense of self preservation. We are race women for black men with no expectation for black men to reciprocate. So they will continue to use us horrible while making sure that by the end of day, he will set up shop with anyone except for the unambiguous black women. I’m not here for it and I would hope black women wake up and stop being complicit in their own erasure.

  5. I read the “apology” and it’s a little tired that when we support a black own business particularly one that addresses our needs and intentionally encourages our growth and spirit for the inner strength of decades of put downs and empowering the uniqueness that is women of the diaspora; please tell me why we always have to include white women whom have had the market sewn up, Shea Moisture should know the Diaspora has already supported, solidified and smile upon them with praise and our dollars just to need validation and more dollars. .those women in that add didn’t have a curl between them not even a tan now c’mon now. We..I don’t know how many are left now but it’s just another “y’all aren’t enough” or greed which one cause there isn’t a bathroom of family girlfriends or otherwise I know that hasn’t tried to put me onto the products boastfully for US. Prideful on the fact this is another tool to love and nurture our hair ,ourselves and what we’ve always been beautiful and strong ..just like our hair.
    I fail to believe that in this day and age the he wasn’t not aware how we would receive this blatant chop to the hair so to speak ..there are more awake than he thought less sleepers. Bad enough you go into our neighborhood stores and the prices are mostly double by folks taking from our neighborhoods ,but we spend. .cause it works and we believe and stand up for the product. He couldn’t even say black we some blanket all inclusive woman …you apologize to whom this pertains to.

    Well,I said my peace. I will be considering the boycott because we can no longer be handled and then move on to the next offense, this attempt will probably be the only one unless we go hard to prove who really supports Shea Moisture.

    Hotep

  6. I just can’t with this so called “explanation”. How in the ENTIRE hell can he be serious??? So no one in this whole company, during the process of making this video thought “Hmmm, this seems to be missing something”? Really??? I would think that the first person hired to make this video would be a woman that looks like the millions of women who got these products where they are. But that’s just me and my logical way of thinking. Oh, well…………..

  7. Threw out the last of my products today and I won’t be looking back. They can keep it. There are brands out there focused on uplifting black hair and aren’t fronting about inclusion to get the white market.

  8. When your entire marketing team and branding group are all white women…..there was no mistake…they created what they wanted… and you cosigned it.

  9. I have to pick my battles. I do not stress over “this product should be for just black folks with Kinky hair” saga. I buy a product for what it does for me, not what it could possibly do or not do for others. In one breath we want to say don’t discriminate, equality for all, and the next thing I see is folks stressing over an entrepreneur expanding their market. I don’t remember hearing these point of view when blacks purchase products designed for the caucasian. Nexus and Pantene was an effective product for me before the bombardment of the “Natural ” products. Use what works and stop judging our African American entrepreneurs! I don’t see where they forgot about where they got their start. They have diverse advertising to reach more people to make more money. It’s the nature of Capitalism and the “American way”.. I do not feel an apology was warranted. Seems folks are a bit over sensitive. Have they bought shares in the business or customers? Relax. Live and let live. It’s no more political than that. Just my take on it. Thanks Shea Moisture for great products that I use and will continue using until they do not work anymore. :0) Just don’t go changing the quality and effectiveness. Strive to do better!

  10. There have been many comments I’ve read as some individuals seek to justify the actions of this company—as well as from those who see nothing wrong.

    We as a people must realise who we are. We are originators. The majority of the things we do are copied and monetized for the benefit of individuals from other ethnic backgrounds. We are told we have to share, but many are waking up from the attitudes that the ‘60’s programmed us with. As black people remember the days of “Black Wall Street”,”Greenwood ,OK” and other prosperous communities of the day— This is much to the chagrin of “the man.” Because it is proof that Black people “can” create successful, prosperous businesses catering to their own demographic.

    Which is why the explanation SM is using for leaving out its’ core demographic is trifling and inexcusable. Why? Because there are Black People World wide. In this day and age, they could have expanded their market to cater to Black and people of Colour in the Caribbean, Europe, the continent of Africa alone, with the right marketing campaign would have brought more money into their coffers. Then there’s Brasil, Columbia, Chile and other South American countries. For the heck of it, lets add Panama, Costa Rica, Belize and other Central American countries and Mexico for the cherry on top. All of these places have a large african diaspora as well as others who could benefit from their products. These areas are known to spend on beauty products as well. And not everybody in these countries is broke, so I can’t buy their excuse. As the “inclusion” they speak of, could have been done, bringing them the money they crave without selling out the people that put them where they are in the first place.

    Then, they take money from Bain capital these people are large investors of the prison industrial complex, where a large amount of the black male population are incarcerated. You can’t take money from people who don’t support your values. At that level, and given that they are working in Africa, there are many wealthy Africans, Blacks and other people of colour in the countries I mentioned, who may have been able to provide a cash infusion to this company. The difference is that those making the money from this infusion would be more connected . Money is energy, it’s not evil. There’s nothing wrong with making it. But there is something wrong with not caring who you get it from.

    https://www.indeed.com/cmp/Sundial-Brands-Llc./reviews

    So again, they fail.

    The “damage control” story, is worded in a way that further insults those who have supported this company from its’ inception. They did not make a mistake. This is what happens when one loses sight of those that put them where they are and instead of working to be better and show appreciation, which in itself grows a company—this CEO seems to have left his company to the investors, while he entertained is dreams of having made it because he was now accepted by the White Man. Allowing key positions in his company to be usurped by his new found acquirers—who’s only interest is turning a profit. Mr. Dennis did not leave gatekeepers at the door—’cause “big momma” would have never let this crap fly. I was raised by old school people. I remember my great-great grandmother , (who was over 100 years old when she transitioned) tell us, “it’s not enough to be as good as them—you have to be better, because you are better than them.” That is what Mr. Dennis fails to realise. He didn’t have to be inclusive. If white people wanted his product, they would find him—if the product was good.

    Bain capital was the sinister infusion of something even bigger. The natural hair movement has cost white mainstream companies who would make money off relaxers—Millions of dollars. These companies sat on the sidelines and watched SM gather a large market share. They bought in and then, changed the formulation. The same thing they did to Carols Daughter. None of this is an accident. It’s a way to take out and acquire the competition and replace those dollars they are losing from the drop in relaxers. But it seems Dennis couldn’t think further than the money he was gaining. Bain purchased just enough to play off the “Black Owned” moniker—thinking the people who made SM what it is, would never look deeper. It’s obvious Dennis drank that purple kool aide too. You can’t hire black people for upper level positions? But you support the community?! Translated: We will throw you money, but we won’t put people in positions that matter so they can earn money that will help them help their communities, start their own businesses or help others do so. Basically, we will give you hand-outs but, not independence. I call B.S.

    For people comparing the issue to Pepsi—you can’t. Why? Because Black People didn’t build Pepsi! Do they add to Pepsi’s market share? Yes. The recent commercial was bad—Do they need to answer for it? Yes. But it doesn’t compare to a company ignoring its’ core demographic. As for the weave wearing, one need go no further than the “Hair Hate” commercial which left out issues that Black women face and added to this mess— Some Black women are forced to take this outlet when working in the mainstream, as wearing their natural hair would not be accepted in some workplaces. Others use it while transitioning or to limit the manipulation of their hair while it grows. Those throwing shade would be surprised how some women sporting weaves, have hair past their shoulders and longer. So, those people using the weave aspect to diss Black women, think about that.

    Their product has changed and there are more changes in the works according to the model who tweeted about her experience as she modeled at a hair show. There’s nothing wrong with putting out new products. But there is something to be said about the way it was done. He could have expanded without selling out. He actually missed a prime opportunity because by focusing on and catering to your base, that is an opportunity to develop premium products that others in his genre can’t come close to. They could have used that directed focus remain innovators and creators. There is nothing wrong about catering to a niche. Black women and other woc love their crowns. Not to say that white women don’t. But as the originators, I feel our “coils” are connected to something higher, something deeper—our antennae connecting us with Our Creator. As more and more women and men embrace who we really are and what we mean to the world, we should never let anyone guilt us into saying we need to include this group or that group. Dr. Claud Anderson, (see powernomics.com) has preached this for the longest.

    This isn’t just about a hair commercial, or even kicking ones’ base demographic to the curb. It’s about building legacies in the Black communities. Its about digging in when we are approached to sell out. We don’t need the white man, we as a people have walked through enough fires of slander, doubt, hatred and disrespect and emerged to become tempered instruments of change. We have the power to change the dynamic, to create wealth within our communities—to teach our children the truth behind our heritage. To no longer allow ourselves to be silenced. Black people are one of the most inclusive people out there, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have something that’s just for us.

  11. We as a people must realise who we are. We are originators. The majority of the things we do are copied and monetized for the benefit of individuals from other ethnic backgrounds. We are told we have to share, but many are waking up from the attitudes that the ‘60’s programmed us with. As black people remember the days of “Black Wall Street”,”Greenwood ,OK” and other prosperous communities of the day— This is much to the chagrin of “the man.” Because it is proof that Black people “can” create successful, prosperous businesses catering to their own demographic.
    Which is why the explanation SM is using for leaving out its’ core demographic is trifling and inexcusable. Why? Because there are Black People World wide. In this day and age, they could have expanded their market to cater to Black and people of colour in the Caribbean, Europe and Asia– the continent of Africa alone, with the right marketing campaign strategy, would have brought more money into their coffers. Then there’s Brasil, Columbia, Chile and other South American countries. For the heck of it, lets add Panama, Costa Rica, Belize and other Central American countries and Mexico for the cherry on top. All of these places have an african diaspora as well as others who could benefit from their products. These areas are known to spend on beauty products as well. And not everybody in these countries is broke, so I can’t buy their excuse. As the “inclusion” they speak of, could have been done, bringing them the money they crave without selling out the people that put them where they are in the first place.
    Then, they take money from Bain capital these people are large investors of the prison industrial complex, which fund the building/operation of prisons– where a large amount of the black male population are incarcerated. You can’t take money from people who don’t support your values. At that level, and given that they are working in Africa, there are many wealthy Africans, Blacks and other people of colour in the countries I mentioned, who may have been willing to form a consortium of investors to provide a cash infusion to this company. The difference is that those making the money from this infusion would be more connected to the diaspora . Money is energy, it’s not evil. There’s nothing wrong with making it. But there is something wrong with not caring who you get it from.
    https://www.indeed.com/cmp/Sundial-Brands-Llc./reviews
    So again, they fail.
    The “damage control” story, is worded in a way that further insults those who have supported this company from its’ inception. They did not make a mistake. This is what happens when one loses sight of those that put them where they are and instead of working to be better and show appreciation, which in itself grows a company—this CEO seems to have left his company to the investors, while he entertained is dreams of having made it because he was now accepted by the White Man. Allowing key positions in his company to be usurped by his new found acquirers—who’s only interest is turning a profit. Mr. Dennis did not leave gatekeepers at the door—’cause “big momma” would have never let this crap fly. I was raised by old school people. I remember my great-great grandmother , (who was over 100 years old when she transitioned) tell us, “it’s not enough to be as good as them—you have to be better, because you are better than them.” That is what Mr. Dennis fails to realise. He didn’t have to be inclusive. If white people wanted his product, they would find him—if the product was good. Heck, white people already use it. They went looking for SM –so really, SM didn’t need to play up to that market.
    I believe Bain capital was the sinister infusion of something even bigger. The natural hair movement has cost white mainstream companies who would make money off relaxers—Millions of dollars. These companies sat on the sidelines and watched SM gather a large market share. They bought in and then, changed the formulation. The same thing they did to Carols Daughter. None of this is an accident. It’s a way to take out and acquire the competition and replace those dollars they are losing from the drop in relaxers. If some women get fed up enough, they may return to using the “creamy crack.” So, the conglomerates still win. It seems Dennis couldn’t think further than the money he was gaining. Bain purchased just enough to play off the “Black Owned” moniker—thinking the people who made SM what it is, would never look deeper. It’s obvious Dennis drank that purple kool aide too. You can’t hire black people for upper level positions? But you support the community?! Translated: We will throw you money, but we won’t put people in positions that matter so they can earn money that will help them help their communities, start their own businesses or help others do so. Basically, we will give you hand-outs but, not the chance to become independent. I call B.S.
    For people comparing the issue to Pepsi—you can’t. Why? Because Black People didn’t build Pepsi! Do they add to Pepsi’s market share? Yes. The recent commercial was bad—Do they need to answer for it? Yes. But it doesn’t compare to a company ignoring its’ core demographic, while spouting the slogan “Everybody Gets Love.” They can’t be that stupid. As for the weave wearing, one need go no further than the “Hair Hate” commercial which left out issues that Black women face and added to this mess— Some Black women are forced to take this outlet when working in the mainstream, as wearing their natural hair would not be accepted in some workplaces. Others use it while transitioning or to limit the manipulation of their hair while it grows. Those throwing shade would be surprised how some women sporting weaves, have hair past their shoulders and longer. So, those people using the weave aspect to diss Black women, think about that.
    Their product has changed and there are more changes in the works according to the model who tweeted about her experience as she modeled at a hair show. There’s nothing wrong with putting out new products. But there is something to be said about the way it was done. He could have expanded without selling out. He actually missed a prime opportunity because by focusing on and catering to your base, that is an opportunity to develop premium products that others in the hair care genre can’t come close to. They could have used that directed focus remain innovators and creators. There is nothing wrong about catering to a niche. Black women and other woc love their crowns. Not to say that white women don’t. But as the originators, I feel our “coils” are connected to something higher, something deeper—our antennae connecting us with Our Creator. As more and more women and men embrace who we really are and what we mean to the world, we should never let anyone guilt us into saying we need to include this group or that group. Dr. Claud Anderson, (see powernomics.com) has preached this for the longest.
    This isn’t just about a hair commercial, or even kicking ones’ base demographic to the curb. It’s about building legacies in the Black communities. Its about digging in when we are approached to sell out. We don’t need the white man, we as a people have walked through enough fires of slander, doubt, hatred and disrespect and emerged to become tempered instruments of change. We have the power to change the dynamic, to create wealth within our communities—to teach our children the truth behind our heritage. To no longer allow ourselves to be silenced. Black people are one of the most inclusive people out there, but that doesn’t mean we can’t have something that’s just for us.
    Thanks for letting me have my say this is a long rant, but if you got through it, I hope you see some valid points. The link to the employees comment only shows this isn’t an isolated problem. Thanks for being fearless (I am waaay too shy to do videos) You have great content look forward to your future vlogs. BTW you and your hair are gorgeous

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