#1 Can we have anything?
This is one that’s going to get the most slack so I might as well get it out of the way early. Dang, can we have anything to ourselves? Let’s think about this, a hair product line created for black natural hair in combat of harmful chemical hair treatments would market to none other than who? Sistas. Up until Monday, Shea Moisture had been doing its job efficiently despite social media claims that marketing would change after the involvement of Bain Capital but Monday, we finally felt the effects of white money infiltrating black business. I watched a clip of a woman of color discuss her hardships with her hair and show casing her product of choice while the white women didn’t even say Shea Moisture. They talked about good hair days, but not how Shea Moisture could assist in them having them, they didn’t even showcase the products that could potentially be beneficial to their hair type, which left black women wonder what exactly was the point? I decided to do some research of my own and found that none of the products specifically list its use for straight non textured hair but multiple describe its use for curly, coily, or kinky hair, this would explain why the curly haired woman had a lot more to say about the product in detail. Black women are wondering if we are the main cause of your success, more than $30 billion worth of success, why alienate us? More importantly, why can’t this be ours?
#2 Bain Capital
This is the most important of the 5 reasons; in 2015 Bain Capital owned by Former Governor Mitt Romney invested $52 million into Shea Moisture this outraged customers many threatened to boycott the company for this initial change, but did they? Shea Moisture assured their customers that formulas and marketing wouldn’t change, because Bain had no ownership or control, just investment stock. Thinking of this from a business standpoint who in their right mind would pour millions into a company they had no control over and what thriving company ignores the wishes of its largest investors? Claims that Bain Capital wouldn’t be allowed to make any changes to company proceedings were not only hard to believe but seemed to be outright false shortly after the investment deal with claims of a change in formula. What’s most problematic about the investment deal is that black women weren’t complaining until after the deal was made this leads us to believe that these changes are coming from someone other than those who were leading the brand before, which leads me to my next two reasons.
#3 Who is Marketing to Us?
Not only did Shea Moisture fail to include us in their new marketing campaign, it seems as if we’ve been excluded from the marketing team as well. Black twitter did some research on who is really behind the company’s marketing and well, we can see exactly why they completely missed the mark with this one. Thanks to LinkedIn and the joys of google searching we learned that the VP of Brand Strategy, Marketing Manager, and Social Media manager at Sundial Brands are all white women. A company that has made billions off of black women alone doesn’t even employ us to market to our community. Imagine the countless number of black female product testers, focus groups of black women, gathering free feedback from our women constantly but employing white women to market it to us. It makes us wonder who wrote the lengthy apology to black women on the company’s facebook page that reads “We are keenly aware of the journey that WOC face” we surely hope it wasn’t Heather Hennessy social media manager at Sundial Brands. To support black women you must employ black women, we are experts of each other had they taken heed to that fact, we may not be having this discussion now.
#4 Formula Changes
Shea Moisture responded to outrage of the Bain Capital deal by assuring its loyal customers that there would be no formula changes, but shortly after the deal Curly Nikki one of the most popular natural hair bloggers said that she notice something different about her curl enhancing smoothie, I purchased this product myself in 2013 and remember the texture to be very thick and creamy but Nikki said she experienced a completely different runny product, so different that she initially thought to return it to the store she was sure she’d purchased an faulty product. When she returned to exchange her hair smoothie she was surprised to find that all of the new family sized jars were the same runny consistency despite her experience SheaMoisture claims that there have been no changes to any of their formulas but there have been multiple claims of formula changes to multiple products claiming to have more of a gel consistency than cream whatever it is doesn’t seem to be working for their core customer demographic, and some say that’s exactly the point.
KayCee Shakur is a freelance writer and the owner of BomaniNow.org.