As someone who has been a huge fan and supporter of Carol’s Daughter for years now, I was elated when I heard the news that the beauty brand would be joining the L’Oreal family. As a business major in college, one of my very first high-profile interviews at the time was with Lisa Price. Carol’s Daughter was still a budding brand that was rapidly expanding to include a storefront in Harlem and a slew of new product lines. I was enamored by Lisa Price’s business acumen and her sensibility. It is NOT easy to take a brand that you started in your kitchen to the level that Lisa Price has grown Carol’s Daughter. From there, I developed a great relationship with the brand and I’ve been a supporter ever since.
But with a big move like this, obviously comes controversy and conflict. Some loyal Carol’s Daughter fans are concerned about whether the products will change or discontinue. Some critics are worried that the brand will lose some of its authenticity as a result of the Carol’s Daughter L’Oreal acquisition. Well I had the privilege of speaking one-on-one with Lisa Price about her decision to partner with L’Oreal and what will change at Carol’s Daughter as a result.
Here’s what she had to tell me:
Why did you decide to join L’Oreal?
L’Oreal is the largest beauty company in the world. They have a really great roster of brands that they’ve acquired that I personally believe they’ve taken really great care of. Kiehl’s was a brand that I always looked to when I was a small company, as a brand that I admired. From their sampling program to the way they wrote their information on their labels, there was just something about Kiehl’s – a simplicity and a friendliness. It’s a family-owned brand with its own heritage, in existence for many years and you don’t feel that disconnect. ‘L’Oreal’ is a place I felt understood what I wanted to do and that would give my “baby” a good home.
Is your team following you over to L’Oreal?
Yes they are! We are operating out of the same office we’re in today. We’re not moving. We are still a unit, we just have the support of L’Oreal with us. Our office is still in Tribeca and no one’s going anywhere. It’s still business as usual even though things have changed.
How do you see the brand changing with the move to L’Oreal? Will the product quality, ingredients, etc remain the same?
There aren’t going to be any real changes. For me, it’s having access to information and data and people that do things on a global level that I currently don’t have access to. As far as the formulas are concerned, I tell people I’ve used my face creams and hair milk every day since the brand started. I’ve been using them for years! The last thing I want to do is change the formula of something that I’ve been using everyday myself for years. And it’s the last thing that L’Oreal wants to do. Carol’s Daughter is Carol’s Daughter. We own our formulas, we are still manufacturing the same way we always have. I think the knowledge and infrastructure changes that we’ll acquire with this move to L’Oreal are not even things that the customer will see or be affected by. It’s just going to make it easier for us to do business. Maybe in a couple of years, we’ll be a more global brand and be available in different countries. But formulas are not changing.
How do you react to loyal fans who may think that you’ve sold out? T
Honestly I think the customers that are loyal to us understand what’s going on and they’re more concerned with “ I hope you don’t change the products. I hope my favorite isn’t going away.” My message is clear – that we’re not going anywhere. We’ve been on this journey together and I want you to come along with me because I’m not going anywhere. People who have a more negative view – who are angry who are outraged. I’m not sure how many of them are actually our loyal customers. I’ve actualyl read some comments like “Well I never used your products anyway”. I understand everyone is entitled to their own opinion. I made choices and decisions that I thought was best for the brand. The brand still has my motyher’s name on it. I still feel a responsibility to her and to my family. So I’m not going to make a decision that I feel is compromising her name or my integrity. I’ve never been that person and I didn’t become that person on Monday.
Was this part of your long-term strategy from the beginning or a strategic business move based on how the business was developing?
I can’t say that it was a long-term strategy from the beginning because when I started in my kitchen many years ago this was a business that I didn’t fully understand yet. I didn’t know all of this. Ten years in when I began to understand how this business works, I realized that this is how you “win” in this business, so to speak. When I looked at the potential strategic partners out there, L’Oreal was always at the top of my list. It’s amazing to have been able to start a company literally on my kitchen stove, selling at craft fairs and on card tables in the streets of Brooklyn, to being apart of the largest beauty company in the world. It’s really phenomenal and something I’m very proud of.
Will you still operate your stand-alone stores?
Yes, we still have our store in Harlem and our store in the Atlantic Terminal Mall will remain open.
What advice do you have for other small businesses who may be facing the same decision?
I think what works for some may not work for others. You have to evaluate your particular situation and do what is best for you. Make sure that you have people around you to give you really good advice so that you make smart decisions. You have to have a strong backbone because not everyone is going to agree with you either way. You have to be able to stomach it and believe in yourself.
Carol’s Daughter has always done things a little bit outside of the box. And people have tilted their heads and looked at us many times over the years. In the end, it works and we made the right decison. And I’m always proud of what I do. Even when I make mistakes, I’m still proud of what I do because I didn’t knowingly make the mistake. I went in thinking “This is great” and then “Ok I need to adjust” if I didn’t quite do the right thing. No one does everything perfectly all the time. Have the strength and tenacity to stick to your guns, to listen, to take the right advice, and to make the right decisions for you and not what someone else wants you to.
So what are your thoughts beauties? I’m personally very happy for the brand and I think it was a smart move. Do you agree? Soundoff below!
UPDATE (10/29) – Patrice Yursik of Afrobella has posted an insightful Q&A with Lisa Price as well – check it out!