One of our curlfriends and top natural innovators, Richelieu Dennis, founder of Sundial Brands, was very busy during SXSW this year, from speaking on panels to beautifying the festival goers with a mobile salon reminding us that #everybodygetslove. Dennis continues to utilize his platform to share his mission of healing that strives to break barriers in the beauty space.

In case you didn’t know, Richelieu Dennis is the mastermind behind natural product brands such as Shea Moisture, Nubian Heritage and Madam CJ Walker Beauty Culture. He’s built an empire that is cross-cultural and innovative, serving countless families for over 25 years. Dennis believes in the power of commerce to change the world and created a Community Commerce Program that serves over 700 women. At SXSW I had a chance to hear about his inspiring mission to alleviate poverty by investing in the communities who help source the key ingredients in his products and supporting women-led businesses to create a better way of life for generations to come.

Serve With a Purpose That’s Bigger Than You

Dennis was inspired by his grandmother, Sofi Tucker, to continue the legacy of crafting African black soap and Shea butter to heal families through natural resources. In memory of his grandmother, he created the Sofi Tucker Foundation, which provides grants to organizations that seek to empower women, their families and communities in the United States and throughout Africa to provide a more efficient way of life. “We moved them from being at the bottom of the pyramid, to now being value-added providers of finished product" Dennis at SXSW. "We then, started making products and partnering with our retailers such as Target, Walgreens, CVS and Ulta to sell products where 10% of each purchase is re-invested in those communities, but also in this community. Those women who are far away from us, 98% of them are able to send their children to school, have health insurance and own businesses.” 

To learn more about the Community Commerce Program, watch the video below.

With entrepreneurship being a core pillar of the Sundial Brands, Dennis has led the initiative to provide minority women executives, business owners and entrepreneurs with an opportunity to attend Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth and be able to define their business strategy to prosper and scale their business. Sundial has also partnered with Babson College to give a full scholarship to rising female junior and senior high school students from underserved communities all over the world to attend a summer entrepreneurship program.  "We’re now able to provide scholarships to women entrepreneurs to attend two of the top business schools with an opportunity to learn more about entrepreneurship and running a prosperous business.”

As an entrepreneur that supports women in business, I immediately gravitated toward his story and felt inspired by his humble beginnings of selling Shea butter on the Harlem streets to now being one of the top natural leaders on the market. He is not only changing the way we are represented in beauty, but in business. Women’s History Month may have come to an end, but we will continue to shine a light on all the women blazing a trail of greatness and the men that support us to make sure our voices are heard.

On behalf of NaturallyCurly, we commend Richelieu Dennis for creating a platform that empowers, educates and inspires women all over the world.

You don’t always have to take the same path you can try something different, as long as the intentions are there.
Richelieu Dennis