The first company to offer a product that conformed to this style was Magnificent Products in Los Angeles. Two barbers, Dennis Taylor and Wilber Jackson, founded the company. The product and the style blended and became a nationwide phenomenon. Other companies tried to capitalize on this success, but none overcame the pursuit. Later, J. Strickland, a majority owned firm of Memphis, Tennessee, made the Magnificent Products an offer that they could not refuse, and bought the company. At that time, they were also makers of Royal Crown and Dixie Peach products. Instead of furthering and enhancing the sales and popularity of Magnificent Products, they withdrew it from the market and shut it down. The speculated reason for this was because the Natural look was interfering with the sales of Royal Crown, Dixie Peach, and other similar products manufactured and sold almost exclusively to African Americans. People wearing the Natural did not need or use petrolatum-based products. Johnson Products Company then picked up the slack with a product called Afro Sheen that did quite well until the fad was replaced by Jeri Curl. Johnson Products was formed in Chicago in 1954 by George Johnson, a former door-to-door cosmetics salesman. The company owned the “Ultra Wave,” “Ultra Sheen,” and “Afro Sheen” brands and its annual sales grew from about $4 million in 1967 to $40 million in 1976, making it one of the largest African American–owned manufacturing companies at the time. (Dictionary of Leading Chicago Businesses (1820-2000))
In the early 1980s, Worlds of Curls, a black-owned company in Compton, California, became financially strapped due to diversifying into endeavors outside of their niche market and the declining curl market. Worlds of Curls had the best-selling curl maintenance products for both professional and retail. The company was owned by Mr. Frank Davies. J. Strickland Company, the makers of Royal Crown Products. Johnson Products of Chicago was acquired by a majority holding and investment firm a few years ago, and has changed ownership four more times since then, including the Wella Corporation of Germany with U.S. headquarters in New Jersey. Well a’s major niche market was hair color products (the bestselling hair color line in Europe). Later, Wella was acquired by Proctor & Gamble, and now Johnson has new owners. The NATURAL has returned and, this time, the market is controlled by black manufacturers!
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