Lisa Price, founder of Carol’s Daughter, one of the first African American-owned product lines with a flagship store started with a dream right inside her kitchen. She managed to build a beauty empire worth millions of dollars that is more inclusive of women of colour.
Born on May 18, 1962, in Brooklyn, New York, Price had to conquer racial bias and unimaginable odds to become a successful businesswoman and CEO of a Fortune 500 company.
In 1990, Price began creating a series of hair, body and beauty products from her Brooklyn kitchen and by 1993 the brand ‘Carol’s Daughter’ – named after her mum was born.
“I ended up spending the summer of 1993 selling products on the streets of Brooklyn at different events and building a little bit of a customer base,” Price told Forbes. Through word of mouth and use of flyers, her business grew and soon expanded with people placing direct orders.
According to her biography, by 1999, Price added mail-order, website and walk-in customers and her business moved from the parlour floor of her brownstone to a formal store in Brooklyn’s upscale Fort Greene area.
At the time, Price was supported by a staff of 23 and Carol’s Daughter line had more than 300 aromatic products for the face, hair, body and home. She had celebrity clients like Chaka Khan, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Halle Berry, and Oprah Winfrey.
Carol’s Daughter has emerged as one of the most recognized names in beauty. In 2002, Carol’s Daughter reportedly grossed more than $2.25 million in sales. Today, her company boasts of 1,800 employees.
In 2011, there were reports of Carol’s Daughter filing for chapter 11 bankruptcy and the company closed five of its seven stores. Reacting to that, Price said: “The point is to keep going”.
“I don’t focus on being perfect, because that is a waste of energy and causes too much stress. I focus on doing the best job that I can do at the moment. If that happens to be 75%, you know what? I still passed,” she noted. “If that happens to be perfection, then great.”
Years later, in 2014, Price sold her brand to cosmetics giant L’Oréal. At the time, the business was valued at $27 million. “This is the end of part one and the beginning of part two and part three,” Price told the Daily News.
However, Price continues to be the face of Carol’s Daughter and run its day-to-day operations and also testing and creating new products. She now has the backing and distribution network of one of the world’s largest cosmetics dealers.
Price explained the key to her success thus: “Talking to and listening to your customer and doing your best to always deliver what she needs and what she wants. I would not be here today were it not for the beautiful conversation between me and my customers that has lasted 24 years.”
In a recent interview explaining how she succeeded while fighting isolation and prejudice in the industry, as well as, pressures to change her personality, Price remarked: “There’s a wave of encouragement for women to be confident and to ask for what they want, but that doesn’t mean they have to be cruel or uncaring in order to make it in business”.