As publications all over the country began to post galleries and round-ups of Black-owned beauty brands to shop, the distinction between brands that target the Black community and brands actually owned by the Black community became clear. Consumers were surprised to learn that The Mane Choice, a hair care brand that specializes in products for Black hair textures, is no longer Black-owned.
While it didn’t get the exact reaction that was doled out to Cantu when consumers felt hoodwinked in learning that it was owned by PDC Brands, there was some skepticism voiced about continued support for the brand.
Black-owned or not, I’m going to remain a loyal fan and customer of The Mane Choice, here’s why.
The brand is still Black-led and employs our community. Courtney Adeleye started The Mane Choice in her kitchen with a mere $500. She quickly turned the modest company into a multi-million-dollar brand where she was able to enlist a team to execute everything from public relations initiatives, marketing, fulfillment, distribution, product development and more. She employs Black men and women in leadership roles and nurtures their talent for growth within the company.
On Juneteenth this year, Adeleye explained in a video on Instagram that the company is no longer Black-owned because she took it public last November—a deal she was transparent about on social media, and for which, she said, she received thousands of messages of praise. Taking a company public means that it’s publicly traded and owned (an IPO). Essentially, the entire community can own a share of The Mane Choice. So it’s not Black-owned by Adeleye herself per se, but it could be Black-owned by several different shareholders.
“I was very intentional about my decision and even more intentional about who I decided to do this deal with because the structure of this deal that I was looking for could not be obtained with just any company,” said Adeleye in the video. “It was important for me to become a partner with the company who acquired my company. And that, my friends, I don’t think has ever been done in this category, especially for a Black female in her 30s.”
She went on to explain that while she technically sold the company to MAV Beauty Brands, she also became one of the largest shareholders of the entire MAV Beauty Brands company.
The Mane Choice products serves the Black community. If you have to question whether or not the brand’s products are for our hair then you’ve obviously never used them. From her first formulation with The Core Collection to the newest POW line, Adeleye has always been dedicated to helping Black women realize their beauty and retain the health of their hair. Period.
Courtney Adeleye serves the community. In 2018, she started The Bawse Conference, which hosts hundreds of women for a weekend of learning from the best in business. They participate in workshops with experts and leave with tangible and actionable tools to help grow their businesses. At the 2019 Bawse Conference, she also heard business pitches from women looking to have Adeleye partner with them on a business venture. I was at last year’s conference and by the end of the weekend I wanted to go work for the brand. Her powerful and giving spirit is infectious and you can tell that she cares deeply about the community that she serves.
Last year, she built the Generational Advantage Fund, which is a $30 million fund for women entrepreneurs that provides financial literacy, capital, mentorship programs and more. Pre-COVID-19 she was already thinking of more ways that she could help small businesses thrive and grow across several industries. If you’ve ever been in a room with her then you know that Adeleye is someone that just pours into other Black women generously.
The Mane Choice IPO is just the beginning of something bigger. Adeleye established Olbali Corporation to house all of her private brands, and she’s building it to be positioned as the next multi-brand corporation. Move over Johnson & Johnson and Unilever, Adeleye is a force to be reckoned with and she’s about to enter into your arena.
So if selling The Mane Choice is going to allow her to grow a larger portfolio of brands and also build a company that will help grow and build other Black women’s brands, then I’m behind it 100 percent. I just hope that this serves as a lesson for people who participate in cancel culture to be very careful about their decisions to disassociate without investigation. It’s also a model for non-Black-owned brands on how to be allies to our community (regardless of ownership).
“I am no longer waiting to be invited to a seat at the table,” Adeleye said. “I want to make sure that whatever table that I sit at, or whatever table that I build, there’s plenty of room for women who look just like me.”