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Did Shea Moisture Sell Out?


If you have no idea what Shea Moisture is, it is/was a line of hair and beauty products created by a black man for women with curly hair... or at least that is what it was. Black women especially with natural hair have been very strong supporters and promoters of the brand since it started. Shea Moisture recently released an ad that has raised a lot of controversy. The ad features four women, three white and one black, each sharing their personal hair woes. Watch the video below and then I'll continue:

Ok, so... let me just start by saying the ad is thoughtful and well put together. I would feel comfortable seeing this ad on any television network without feeling ashamed that it is a black owned company. In fact, you wouldn't even know it's a black owned company until about :53 then you might wonder why there are so many people of color in one scene. But, generally speaking it's a good ad. So, what's the problem you ask? The problem is that black women feel like Shea Moister abandoned them because they are trying to cater to all women instead of just "black women". To explain, we finally have a line of products designed for us and by us and now it's not really "for us" anymore! So, outrage broke out in the land of the world wide web, and many black women have vowed to stop supporting the brand.

Let me just give you my thoughts. I have been using Shea Moisture for a while now, and I have to admit that one day I was in Target and I ventured away from the small 3 foot wide corner designated for black hair products. I was just admiring how many options there are for other women and the amazing prices! I could actually buy conditioner for as cheap as $3! As I kept walking, nestled between Ogranix and the Say Yes line i saw something that seemed to be a mistake. Either one of the stock people couldn't find the corner designated for black hair products or somebody decided not to purchase the product and left this bottle on the shelf. TO amazement, it was not a mistake! There it was, a light pink bottle/tube with a Shea Moisture label on it, one I had never seen before, was right there in the midst of all the other natural brands! "Come on Shea Moisture! You bettah BE on the aisle with Nexxus, Say Yes, and Organix" I exclaimed to myself. I was proud.

I know, some of you are confused, and the rest of you are rolling your eyes but from a marketing, branding, and business perspective, Shea Moisture has done something that no other black hair line has been able to do. It was able to be accepted as a "REAL" brand, not limited to the 3 foot wide end of one of 3 aisles of hair products in Target. At the end of the day Richelieu Dennis (Owner) wants to make money and wants to survive in a tough market that not only doesn't readily accept black hair products, but it is predominantly white. The reality is that there are more white women in the U.S. than black women, and if you want to brand to grow and thrive you HAVE to be able to reach a broader market. If you want your ad to be shown on networks other than BET you have to reach more than just black people. If you want you ad in Vogue and Marie Claire, instead of only Essence and Ebony you have to reach more people. I am proud of Richelieu Dennis for being able to at least scratch the surface of this market. In my first AABG episode I met a white couple and the man told me he uses Shea Moisture for his curly hair. I'm sorry but that made me proud. Knowing that a black man, a refugee from Liberia, with Sierre Lionne roots was able to reach this white man in Kentucky is a big deal.

In my opinion black people have a far better understanding of different hair textures that white people (no shade), so why shouldn't we be the ones to cross those barriers and create products for everybody?

Now, there are still several reason I can give Richelieu Dennis side eye:

  1. While the woman featured in the ad is black, they should have used someone that represents what white people see when they hear "black woman". Once again.. no shade, but its not her. Trust me.

  2. He claimed that he did not see the ad before it went out....LIES!

  3. There should have been more than one black women in the ad.

Over all my opinion is... meh. I only use two Shea Moisture products, and I think I think I found a replacement for one of them. I have mixed feelings about the controversy, on one hand I'm proud of him for being able to cross the barriers. On the other, we will see who he really cares about in the next ad.

Cheers!

Sophia

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