On January 11th of this year, 2023, Monique Rodrigues, the CEO, and Co-founder of Mielle Organics announced on her Instagram page that she has joined forces with Procter and Gamble (P&G). This means that the company she started with her husband, Melvin, back in 2014 has now been bought and acquired by a White-owned company.
P&G Beauty is a global company that also owns popular brands such as Pantene, Always, Gillette, and many other personal care brands.
Reactions to this news have ranged from angry to neutral and confused but don’t worry, I’m here to give you all the details you need to know and keep you informed on what it means for your favorite Mielle products.
Monique explained in the video below that the move was motivated by the goal of further expanding the brand’s aim of ensuring black women have access to innovative hair care products globally.
However, fans of the brand had mixed to negative reactions to the news, with many uncertain and raising concerns about changes to product formulas, pricing, and branding that may come as a result of this acquisition.
While it may seem like people are jumping to conclusions too quickly, some of these worries black women are not unfounded. A recent controversy surrounding Mielle organics’ Rosemary Mint Scalp & Hair Strengthening oil that occurred less than two weeks before the acquisition was announced is a prime example of an instance where those fear come to life.
To catch you up incase you haven’t been following along with the viral news, the oil controversy started when a popular white TikTok influencer, Alix Earle included the mielle hair oil in a now viral video about her best purchases of 2022. This led to an increasing number of white consumers buying the hair oil with many retailers who stock the product being reported to have sold out.
Many black women who are longtime fans and the primary customer base of mielle organics were quick to express displeasure over the possibility that the brand’s visibility to white audiences resulted in reported shortage of a product that was essential to their hair care regimen, making it harder for the black customers who the product was originally created to serve to get their hands on it.
Although this viral hair oil situation was certainly a unique case of social media hype, it does give room for doubt among black women who upon the announcement of P&G’s acquisition of Mielle organics started to worry about the future availability of the brand’s products and the possibility of the brand changing their formula to better suit hair needs of their newly acquired fans with straighter hair.
After all this wouldn’t be the first time a natural hair care brand that built its success off the love and money of black women gets notoriety among wider audiences, gets acquired by a bigger corporation and we start to see a difference in the formula of their products or an increase in price. Brands like Carol’s Daughter and Shea Moisture have gone through this phase in the past.
Infact, the 2017 incident of Shea Moisture’s hair hate commercial which tried to equate the discrimination against black hair with simply not loving one’s hair color or texture is probably still fresh in the memory of many black women. It represented an attempt by the brand to pander to a broader and whiter market outside of its primarily Black fanbase and in doing so, try to erase black women and their unique hair struggles and needs away from the forefront of the brand’s image.
Erasure may be a strong word but this gentrification as it were of haircare products created to serve the underserved community of black women is truly disheartening and always frustrating to see. There aren’t a ton of quality products on the market made for the needs of black hair to begin with so when we find a brand that works like a charm for our hair, we form a real kinship with that brand.
Hence, the idea that a brand that carefully designs it’s products to target the needs of black hair could now be co-opted by bigger corporations who may only care about making profit and appealing to a wider market leaves many fans of Mielle organics on edge about what this acquisition by P&G could mean for their favorite products.
However, as of now, there doesn’t seem to be an indication that Mielle organics will go down that route. Addressing some of these concerns in her press release, CEO, Monique Rodriguez stated “ We have no plans to change the formulas and will still continue to innovate and formulate as we always have but now with even better resources.”
Ms. Rodriguez also reiterated that she and her husband Melvin Rodriguez will still remain CEO and COO of Mielle. Ensuring the brand remains black-led entity which will operate as an independent subsidiary of P&G Beauty.
So as consumers and fans of Mielle organics, I would say it is best to watch and wait cautiously. We want our black-owned brands to grow and expand in their success so when mergers or acquisitions like these happen we shouldn’t be so quick to throw around words like “sell out”.
When a brand starts to do well and becomes profitable it is only natural that investors and bigger conglomerates would take interest, just look at most of your other beauty brands whether it’s skincare or makeup you’ll find that most of them have probably gone through a similar process.
Mergers like these give brands access to large raw material suppliers, factories, and in some cases better cosmetic formulators and chemists. It will allow the brand to make and supply products faster and stock in more retail locations. This acquisition could be an opportunity for Mielle Organics to reach an even larger market of black women in different parts of the world where black women are lacking quality hair care products that cater to their hair needs.
The possibility of things like product reformulations or price changes are speculative as of now. There is no way to tell if the brand will stay true to their core mission and not make compromises which will affect the quality of products they provide to black and brown women.
We can only wait and see as things unfold. In the meantime, whether you’re worried about your favorite Mielle leave in conditioner, hair oil, or hair mask suddenly changing in the coming months, I would say there’s no need to panic buy or suddenly to stop supporting the brand.
There is no guaranteed possibility of product changes. So, Depending on how you feel about the situation the best thing to do may be to acknowledge and appreciate the success of Mielle organics while cautiously keeping an eye on them as they take us through this new phase of CEO, Monique Rodriguez has termed a “sell up.”