African Pride products have been a pillar in the Black community for ages. The household brand is known for nourishing both natural and processed hair textures through their various shampoos, conditioners, oils, leave-ins and more. Although their products cater to people of color, a 2016 acquisition by Godrej Consumer Goods reshaped the C-suite staff, making it company operated and controlled by Black Women and Brown People of Color.
Among the sea of Black and Brown staff members is Kendria Strong, the Executive Vice President and Head of Marketing and Innovation for Godrej U.S. Since 2017, she’s created African Pride’s new Moisture Miracle and spearheaded the reformulation, repackaging and relaunch of the legacy’s brand full portfolio. With a strong team of 20+ employees, Kendria has dedicated lots of time and energy into reviving products to keep them fresh and relevant to today’s generation.
We sat down with Kendria Strong to learn more about the hair care brand with a long-living legacy in the Black hair industry.
What inspires you about your current position in the hair industry?
“What inspires me the most is the ability to provide delight and helpful solutions to millions of women yearly. Knowing that my day to day work is putting a smile on someone’s face that I have never meet gives me eternal joy. I believe my purpose in this world is to be an catalyst of opportunity to black women. Whether it’s providing the opportunity to conquer washday and breakage with our Moisture Miracle Pre-shampoo or ensuring black women are represented and promoted at every level of leadership in the company; making a difference and having an impact is what keeps me motivated.”
What is the most rewarding part?
“The most rewarding part of my job is innovation. I love ideating and solving complex problems, so seeing a product go from a concept to shelf is very rewarding. It’s similar to an artist putting out a song and everyone singing along, I get that reward when consumers are raving about products me and my team have created.”
How do you feel about the growing number of Black women becoming entrepreneurs?
“We are natural innovators and our ingenuity is unmatched; turning that into financial independence and having ownership in the trends we create is priceless.”
What has been your biggest challenge? How did you combat it?
“Where do we start – From mischaracterizing our passion for combativeness to classifying us as the resident “homegirl,” or executor and ignoring our intelligence, there are many challenges that we face being black women in the workplace. There can be a tendency to pigeon-hole women in general into particular roles, keeping us in entry level positions longer than men or not being able to break the invisible ceiling into executive leadership roles. Fortunately, through mentors, and the support of my current company, I have been blessed to break down many barriers that most black women confront daily and I strive to continue holding the door open for others.”
Do you plan on expanding? If so, how?
“From the beginning of the Black Hair Care industry direct to consumer has created scale, when pioneers were unable to receive retail distribution. In the early 1900s, Annie Turnbo Malone, the Mother of the Black Hair Care Industry and 1st Female Millionaire, distributed her product door to door with a sales force of 45,000+ agents. Today, digital partners like Amazon real-time online opportunity to provide consumers with niche and best selling products. Being always shoppable online and integrating point of purchase with social media, is a low cost way to scale quickly without losing much margin.”
There is so much power in being a Black woman. As we swap Black History month for Women’s History month, I am left inspired by every woman who has explored an idea, started a business, or simply entertained a thought that sparked change. We are living during a time where Black women are recognizing their power to shift conversations, uplift each other, and make a difference in this world. As we steer this modern-day Black Renaissance, art, music, fashion, film, and businesses continue to thrive at an explosive level. What a time to be alive.