There is some controversy erupting around the use of Mielle Organics products by white influencers.
Mielle Organics is a Black-owned haircare brand that was founded by Monique Rodriguez in 2014 after her social media followers responded positively to the hair-care regimen she shared for her waist-length hair.
The company was founded with one product – the Advanced Hair Formula, then expanded into 10 collections, including skincare products formulated specifically for children.
Though Rodriguez, known as the Queen of Hair, founded the company based on the needs of women with textured hair, it’s not explicitly restricted to them. The controversy, as first reported by High Snobiety, started when 22-year-old TikTok influencer Alix Earle, who has 3.3 million followers, posted about her favorite Amazon finds of 2022, including Mielle Organics’ Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening Oil.
Earle, a blonde white woman with straight hair, says in the post that she saw “tremendous hair growth” from the oil. The post was liked by 4.8 million users.
This seemingly innocuous post, which amplified a Black brand nonetheless raised the ire of some social media users who felt that Earle’s use of the product, which exposed it to a whiter audience, might lead to problems if the formulas were changed to appease them.
Twitter user and applied linguistics professor Uju Anya, likened the issue to the Shea Moisture controversy, where the brand was dragged on social media and at in-person listening session with the CEO, after an ad that appeared to try to make the company’s products more appealing to white users.
Hair is a charged issue in the Black community as evidenced by documentaries like Chris Rock’s Good Hair, and the Oprah-produced Hair Tales on Hulu.
The docs revealed the myriad of ways that Black women have had to seek the freedom to do what other ethnicities enjoy with little effort – wear their hair the way they want to without repercussion or censure.
When Carol’s Daughter founder Lisa Price expanded from her Brooklyn storefront to selling her company to L’Oréal in a multimillion-dollar deal in 2014, some customers were upset. Price explained she did have to change formulas to accommodate shelf life and reduce any possibility of allergic reactions to the natural ingredients that were a hallmark of her products.
But she still dealt with a backlash.
“When someone is in a position to sell their company and build wealth for their family, and go out and start a few ventures, I would love for people not to react with vitriol, but allow them to be celebrated for doing that. It is the only way to build wealth over time,” Price told The Cut in 2021.
Others felt that while new users may have brought more attention to the brand, the possibility of product shortages might make it harder for its original users to find.
Black hair is emotional for people, especially Black women, per the responses to company changes that have preceded the latest controversy. Black-owned product lines have loyal, passionate followings that allow them to grow enough to become attractive to investors in the first place.
Rodriguez was able to build Mielle Organics into what is now reportedly a $100 million global brand. In 2021, the company secured an investment from Berkshire Partners. The amount was not disclosed but the investment was said to be significant as Berkshire typically funds companies with investments between $100 million and a billion dollars.
Given all the success Rodriguez and Mielle have had, she made sure to set the record straight Tuesday as the controversy was brewing.
The Mielle Organics page posted: “We’ve been together on this ride for awhile, so you know that my journey with Mielle started from a place of creating the product I wasn’t finding in the marketplace. We remain forever committed to developing quality, efficacious products that address the need states for our customers’ hair types! Sincerely, The Queen of Hair 💗💗.”
See how Twitter’s reacting to white women using a hair product meant for Black women below.
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