Monday, April 25, 2011

George Johnson

George E. Johnson, Sr. was born in Mississippi on June 16, 1927.  He began working as a shoe shine boy at the age of 8 after working odds jobs over the years.  Johnson dropped out of school in1944 and accepted a job as a production chemist for the Samuel B. Fuller cosmetics firm.

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
The1960s was the growing popularity of the afro style with the rise of Black Power as a political philosophy, Johnson developed its most famous product, Afro Sheen.  By the late 1960s Johnson Products became the principal sponsor of the national television dance show, Soul Train. With markets in Africa, the West Indies, and Latin America by the early 1970s, Johnson Products Company had become the largest African American owned corporation in the United States.

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.

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Muse Origins said...

Really? Interesting info!


Crown Chronicles said...

I love how I come across all sorts of interesting things!

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