On Monday Unilever announced that it would be acquiring Sundial Brands, one of the largest producers of hair and skincare products for African-American women.
While the deal happened for an undisclosed amount, Sundial —home to brands including SheaMoisture, Nubian Heritage and Madam C.J. Walker— is expected to have turnover of $240 million this year.
“The Sundial team has built differentiated and on-trend premium brands serving multicultural and millennial consumers that enhance our existing portfolio,” Kees Kruythoff, President, Unilever North America said in a press release. “Sundial is an important addition to our U.S. portfolio of purpose-driven companies, which includes Ben & Jerry’s and Seventh Generation.”
Sundial’s founder, Richelieu Dennis, will continue to lead the business as CEO and Executive Chairman and Unilever is also creating a New Voices Fund with an initial investment of $50 million to empower women of color entrepreneurs.
But the acquisition does raise questions about how big general market brands influence black-owned companies. Similar sentiments were felt when L’Oreal USA bought Lisa Price’s Carol’s Daughter in 2014. It also doesn’t help that Dove, which is under the Unilever umbrella, was recently under scrutiny for an ad that depicts a black woman becoming a white woman after using one of the brand’s body washes.
With Dennis still at the helm of Sundial, there’s promise that the company will positively influence Unilever’s venture into the multicultural space.
“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 Richelieu Dennis, founder and CEO, Sundial Brands in a press release.
“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.”