In 1954, he began building the world's best-known black hair care products manufacturer in Chicago, Johnson Products Company. Johnson and his wife Joan built Johnson Products from a $500 initial investment.
Unlike earlier African American cosmetics firms which targeted women, Johnson developed his first products exclusively for male customers. His first successful product was Ultra Wave Hair Culture, which was a hair relaxer for men. In 1957, Johnson Products released a new hair straightener specifically for women called Ultra Sheen which unique among such products could be applied at home. Ultra Sheen surpassed Ultra Wave in sales and popularity.
|Vintage Afro Sheen ad|
In 1971 Johnson Products Company became the first African American owned corporation listed on the American Stock Exchange. Johnson resigned as the Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of Johnson Products Company in 1989. Johnson Products Company was purchased by the Proctor and Gamble Corporation in 2004, but in March 2009 a consortium of African American investment firms bought the company.