CEW: How did you find your way into the corporate world of beauty?
Taydra Mitchell Jackson: I’ve been in the beauty industry for almost 30 years. I started my career at Procter & Gamble in marketing, initially with Head & Shoulders. I didn’t know at the time that I was on the path to a career in beauty, but from Head & Shoulders, I moved on to Pantene and launched the Pantene Relaxed & Natural line. That’s when my love, passion, and excitement for serving underserved customers came to be. I remember telling one of my P&G managers that I wanted to work on a brand that I could present to my mother and grandmother as something that was created with them in mind… a brand that they could really be proud of. I think that experience birthed my love for multicultural beauty. It has since been a through-line of my career. From P&G I moved to L’Oréal where I worked on Mizani, in the Professional Division (and later with Design Essentials). I was immersed in beauty at L’Oréal. Beauty was in the air, in the walls. Revlon followed and while I was there, I got the opportunity to work in private equity. I became the president and COO for Dr. Susan Taylor’s skin care brand, Rx for Brown Skin¬¬––one of the first skin care brands by a woman of color to launch at Sephora. That’s when the entrepreneur bug really bit me. I spent about 10 years consulting startups and really helping women-led businesses. I transitioned back into corporate about two years ago, with SheaMoisture. I’ve had a unique career path in that I’ve worked in hair, skin care, cosmetics, salon, prestige, and mass. It’s been holistic, which is not traditional. And the journey has made me a better marketer, not only for African American consumers but for a global consumer base. It has been a joy.
CEW: How long have you been with SheaMoisture and what do you appreciate most about the brand?
TMJ: I’ve been with SheaMoisture for almost two years. September (2023) will mark two years since I’ve been the Chief Marketing Officer. The brand is the largest global multicultural beauty business, and we uniquely service women of color¬¬–– that’s a banner of pride for me. I love the idea of ensuring that women who look like me feel a level of validation, appreciation, and celebration. And as a global brand, we can meet the needs of consumers around the world. We talk a lot about our consumers feeling seen, served, and celebrated. We’re passionate about giving back, about the impact we make beyond the bottle, beyond the advertising campaigns. Every time somebody buys a bottle, resources are put back into the community. That’s powerful for me. The vision of the business, Sundial Brands and SheaMoisture in particular, is to help close the $11 trillion racial wealth gap in the US. Our cycle of giving back is not just philanthropic. It’s also about empowering the next generation of businesses and entrepreneurs. We coined the phrase “Wash, Wealth, Repeat,” which refers to the cycle of how the money you invest in SheaMoisture is reinvested in our communities. “Wash” refers to the consumer investing in beauty, which creates a pool of funding. “Wealth” refers to us investing in our communities, entrepreneurs, and small businesses. We continue the cycle with “repeat,” and so too do the businesses that we’ve invested in. You support our businesses, and we support more businesses, with the expectation that they will do the same. We reach back, give back, and pull up.
CEW: Can you elaborate on some of the specific ways SheaMoisture gives back and empowers their communities?
TMJ: At SheaMoisture we see ourselves as a mission with a business. It’s intrinsic to everything we do, so much so that we have a dedicated purpose team led by Simone Jordan (Director of Purpose & Partnerships). One of our recent purpose programs is a six-part docuseries, “The Next Black Millionaires”, that follows the journeys of three entrepreneurs. We’ve awarded $100,000 to each of them, as well as executive coaching and mentoring from our New Voices Foundation, the $100 million fund created when SheaMoisture was acquired by Unilever to invest in entrepreneurs of color. Target is also a part of this project. In-store success is part of the entrepreneurial process, so Target was brought in as a key partner. They fell in love with the idea and while the documentary is airing, you can find the winners’ products in 650 Target stores. The series democratizes the process and provides access for entrepreneurial success. “The Next Black Millionaire” is airing on Roku (Originals) right now. Our SheaMoisture Fellowship for Minority Women Entrepreneurs is another example. We’ve partnered with the Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth to provide a week-long program where participants get the opportunity to evaluate their business’s health, and then diagnose its strengths and areas for improvement. A third example involves the sourcing of our shea butter. We impact over 53,000 women in West Africa, supporting their cooperatives to create lasting generational wealth. We pay fair trade premiums for raw ingredients, and year-round income for women, beyond the seasonal shea nut collection, which creates more jobs and keeps wealth in the community.
CEW: Tell us about SheaMoisture’s latest ScalpCare launch.
TMJ: Well, we’re passionate about creating products that our consumers need. It turns out that half of them have questions or challenges about caring for their scalp. We also know that many scalp products on the market do not address our specific hair needs. Our research revealed that many of our customers were interested in scalp care that also addressed hair moisture and stronger hair. We listened and developed a holistic system that delivered on all the things our consumers were really interested in. We launched with the campaign “Two New Ways to Carefree Scalp Days.” We also launched two collections of oil-free products (contrary to popular belief oil is not so good for the scalp): An Anti-Dandruff Collection that includes apple cider vinegar and salicylic acid, and a Scalp Moisture Collection which includes vitamin B3 and aloe vera. Each contains a pre-wash treatment, shampoo, and conditioner. The Anti-Dandruff Collection also includes an Anti-Dandruff Leave-In and the Scalp Moisture Collection includes a Scalp Moisture Cream.
CEW: What advice do you have for the next generation on achieving success (such as yours) in the beauty industry?
TMJ: Make sure you’re investing time in the art and the science. The science is the data and the work piece, and the art relates to networking. There’s an art to managing up and an art to self-promotion. Learn that art, get comfortable with it. I’m not talking about arrogance but rather letting people know what you’ve contributed and that you are in the room. Personally, I didn’t do so well promoting myself early in my corporate career. I always felt that if I put my head down and did the work, it would be enough. Not so, you’ve got to speak up.