In 1993, Lisa Price launched a series of beauty and hair products that would grow to become a household name in America. She started Carol’s Daughter from her home kitchen and opened her first storefront in 1999.
Price started her business as a hobby for making fragrances but transformed into body moisturizers and butters “because I always had dry skin,” she told The Helm. The product became popular among family and friends who started asking about her formulas.
“I spent the summer of 1993 selling at different craft fairs and outdoor markets. People would call me wanting to refills of products they had purchased and that began the unofficial store in my home,” she told The Helm.
After operating her company for nearly 10 years, she landed an interview with Oprah in 2002. Later, she landed a screen time with HSH and also featured on Tyra Banks’ talk show in 2006 alongside guests Mary J. Blige and Jada Pinkett Smith, who would later become some of her investors.
Price recalled, “My then-website, which perhaps saw $20,000 in sales on a very good day, saw over $100,000 in sales in one day. It was crazy.”
According to Price, she didn’t borrow money for her product until 2001, didn’t allow partners until 2004 and had her first equity partners in 2007. She secured celebrity investors as Jada Pinkett Smith, Jay-Z, and Mary J. Blige.
“It was an organic build; it wasn’t intentional from the perspective that I chose not to have investors. I was just learning and allowed it to grow the way it did; I was growing with it as a business person,” she said.
After surviving the world economic crisis in 2008, she sold the company for an undisclosed fee to French cosmetic company L’Oreal in 2014 following years of low sales. She explained to The Helm that, “the recession hit and we had a rough two years sales-wise. Unless money magically fell out of the sky or I found someone who wanted to buy out all my partners, the only way everyone would recoup what they put in was through a sale.
“I wanted it to be the right place; a company that understood what we had built, respected our consumer, respected the work I had put in, and would want me to stay on so I could keep running the business. That is what we found with L’Oreal.”
According to NBC News, the company at the time was valued at $27 million. Her products were in more than 2,000 U.S. stores by the time of the acquisition.
The sale of Carol’s Daughter to L’Oreal generated some backlash from the Black community, particularly Black women who made up a core of the company’s base.
“They felt that I took something that belonged to them, and I gave it to someone else just to get a check,” Price told Inc. “That’s not what actually happened, but I understand that perception.”
Price also told The Helm that technically, the company is still Black-founded and Black-led as she is involved in the operations of the company.