Design Essentials: The OGs of Black Hair Business
Many of you may know Designs Essentials if you've been in the natural hair scene or from our content. It's a popular hair product brand targeted towards Black women with all different types of hair, they have the natural range and also a range for relaxed/chemically treated hair.
What some of you may not know is that the owners of Design Essentials are the OGs of the hair scene. How you ask? We're about to tell you.
Deisgn Essentials was founded by Cornell McBridge who is no newbie to the hair scene in fact he
began his career in the health and beauty aids industry in 1973 when he and fellow classmate Therman McKenzie founded M&M Products Company.
"Their first revolutionary product Sta-Sof-Fro was the first softening product developed for African-American men’s hair, making it manageable and easy to comb. Due to its success, M&M Products Company was able to introduce other brands that became internationally known. By the mid-80s, M&M Products had revenues in excess of $40 million dollars and four national brands: Sta-Sof-Fro, Sof-N-Free, Moxie, and Curly Perm. In 1989 Cornell McBride and his partner sold M&M Products Company to Johnson Products."
Yes they sold out. Now let's not sit here and lie, it's commonplace that as soon as Black businesses become prosperous they get bought by powerful, global, white-owned conglomerates and had M&M done this now in 2017...Oh the tweets that would arise! #HereWeGoAgain #SellingOut #CarolsDaughter2.0
We were all heavily disappointed when Lisa Price sold Carol's Daughter, and Shea Moisture sold shares to Bain Capital, which is their prerogative, but it left us with the feeling that "we can't have anything", which is typically true.
HOWEVER McBride did not stop there. One year after selling his former portfolio to Johnson and Johnson, the Design Essentials hair care system was launched with the aim to be a program that combined direct distribution of premium quality hair care solutions with the education and knowledge to effectively use them in the salon and at home. Fast forward 17 years and Design Essentials is still going strong. Used as a house hold staple by many naturalistas, it just goes to show that McBride is a true OG when it comes to the black hair care business, not only from the product perspective but they also hire fantastic stylists such as Stephen Debolette whom works magic with his hands.
We have worked with Design Essentials on a couple occasions (Afro Hair & Beauty 2016, our Book Launch, our product reviews) and what comes across to us is a brand with integrity, vision and loyalty. A lot of brands nowadays pop up in the natural hair scene with a couple of loose curly hair photos and buzz words to intrigue people to get their coins. From our perspective thus far Design Essentials isn't that, this is a brand that understands the beauty of each texture and the need for a trustworthy brand that continues to keep black women at the forefront.