By Ryan Velez
Sundial Brands has been a brand that Black women have grown to use for years, the company behind Nubian Heritage, Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture, and Shea Moisture. Madame Noire reports that company giant Unilever has agreed to acquire Sundial, but the story doesn’t end there.
As part of the agreement, Unilever and Sundial are creating the New Voices Fund which will make an initial investment of $50 million to empower women of color entrepreneurs. The idea of this fund is to help follow up on the intent of Sundial to service the unmet needs of consumers of color “through its robust innovation pipeline, product offerings and purpose-driven business model,” a press release noted, adding that the plan is to eventually scale the fund to $100 million by attracting other investors.
“We are excited to partner with Richelieu and his team to enable Sundial to bring its unique product offerings and community impact to more people around the world,” said Alan Jope, President, Unilever Personal Care. “We look forward to continuing to grow the business and make an even bigger impact on society through Sundial’s community programs.”
Under the terms of the agreement, Sundial Brands will operate as a standalone unit within Unilever, with Sundial’s founder, Richelieu Dennis, continuing as CEO and Executive Chairman. Effective January 1, 2018, Esi Eggleston Bracey will assume the role of Executive Vice President & Chief Operating Officer of Unilever North America Personal Care, working with Dennis to further growth of Sundial Brands.
“I’ve always wanted Sundial Brands to be an inspiration to other minority-owned companies of how a business against all odds can achieve excellence, have significant social impact in our communities and be successful on a world stage,” said Dennis. “I am excited Sundial and Unilever have created this partnership, rooted in a purpose-driven ethos, that represents an incredible opportunity to take our Community Commerce economic empowerment and impact model to another level. I’ve enjoyed a long-standing relationship with Esi and look forward to working with her to continue to change the game in beauty, personal care and community building.”
Moments like these can be bittersweet for Black business people, with pride that their work is of value balanced by concerns that their work may be taken in a different direction. For now, it looks like Unilever is trying to do its part to let Sundial be Sundial while incorporating it into its larger family of brands.