Last week Mielle Organics became the latest beloved Black-owned beauty brand to be acquired by beauty conglomerate Procter and Gamble. News of the sale caused a stir among Black consumers on social media.
Mielle’s founders are wife and husband team Monique and Melvin Rodriguez. The deal with P&G was announced on Wednesday, Jan. 11, two weeks after popular TikTok influencer Alix Earle posted a video touting the effects of Mielle’s Rosemary Mint hair oil. Earle is white and has 3 million followers.
Earle’s endorsement led to the oil flying off the shelves. Loyal consumers, who’ve supported Mielle since it’s inception in 2014, complained of being unable to find it. Though many Black women lamented their frustration over the possibility of a corporate buyout, P&G purchased the company shortly after that.
Here are five things to know about P&G’s purchase of Mielle Organics.
When Earle first posted her video including Mielle’s oil on her Top Amazon purchases for 2022, many Black women expressed preliminary concerns.
“IF YALL SELL OUT THE MIELLE OIL I WILL RIOT,” one user commented. “Great now Mielle is about to be gentrified,” another wrote. “DAMN, now mielle is gonna be outta stock/expensive. sistas we gotta start gatekeeping,” another echoed.
Many cited precedents like Shea Moisture and Carol’s Daughter, two formerly Black-owned companies whose formulas changed to cater to wider audiences after their founders sold them.
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However, Mielle has reiterated several times it would not change its formula under the new deal.
“We have no plans to change the formulas and we will still continue to innovate and formulate as we always have, but now it’s with even better resources,” Monique said in a video statement. “Now you guys know I have always operated with integrity and transparency and that will not change. That is who I am.”
However, some were skeptical and said they’d wait to see if that promise is fulfilled because “we’ve seen this before.”
“I don’t buy any of it. P&G owns Mielle therefore it won’t stay the same. Shea Moisture pulled the same crap. On to the next 1,” @e_Jay1025 wrote.
Though P&G Beauty has acquired Mielle, the acquisition is being framed as a partnership, not a takeover. According to a report by Bloomberg, and Monique’s statement, Mielle will operate as an independent subsidiary of P&G Beauty and the couple will continue to be at the company’s helm.
“To join forces with a strategic partner to expand my brand globally has always been a dream of mine and it has finally come true. I selected P&G because they believe in my vision and they also support the passion that Melvin and I have for our community,” Monique said.
She added they were impressed by the diversity of P&G’s leadership team.
“Melvin and I will still continue to remain CEO and COO of Mielle,” Monique continued. “Mielle will still remain Black-led and Mielle will operate as an independent subsidiary and will continue to provide opportunities for Black leadership in our company as we always have.”
Many called Monique and Melvin sellouts on social media for their decision to be acquired by P&G. It’s a label Monique rejects.
“I feel that every Black entrepreneur should be able to scale and have access to opportunities to grow and expand their business like any other culture without being labeled a sellout because this is not a sellout, this is a sell up,” Monique said. “This is a level up. This is called growth for our community. When we have more, we can do more to give back and uplift our community. … It’s about a win for our community when businesses have the opportunity to grow and expand.”
Monique also said she and Melvin prayed fervently about the deal and made “a God-led decision.”
Though some called the explanation a PR move, others agreed with Mielle’s founders and supported the move.
“Buy stock in P&G so you can be the recipient of their gains [and losses] when they acquire brands you love. You will not be able to control Black CPG brands and founders via fictive kinship and sell-shaming on twitter,” @KristyT wrote.
“Are yall at least gonna give @MielleOrganics a chance to prove they aren’t selling out or changing on you or are we just gonna jump out there calling them names for doing what all business owners strive to do? I’m just asking,” @dentheotaku asked.
“Y’all hear “black woman owned” and think that means Assata Shakur is at the helm. These are BUSINESSES. Not community outreach programs. The end game is to make money, get that in your head,” @NotTramBraxton wrote.
P&G also expressed its commitment to keeping the company’s “core tenets” intact. “P&G Beauty’s role will be to support the Mielle Organics team with what they need to achieve their vision – including increased access in Black and Brown communities and investing in research and innovation – while enabling the core tenets of their success to continue as they are today,” P&G’s Vice President Lela Coffey said.
The deal is still pending regulatory approval, a press release states.
Berkshire Partners, who invested in Mielle in 2021, sold their stake in the company to P&G.
“From the beginning of our partnership, we knew Mielle was an extraordinary business with incredible leaders addressing an underserved category,” Berkshire’s managing director Marni Payne said in a statement. “Mielle is a high-growth brand with passionate founders, a strong consumer connection, and deep community ties that go beyond their products. We feel honored to have been a partner through this exciting chapter.”
Mielle also received an investment from the New Voices Fund for Women of Color prior to Berkshire.
According to the announcement, both Mielle and P&G will each invest $10 million into Mielle Cares, the company’s non-profit companion. Its mission is to provide resources and support to Black entrepreneurs, communities and other marginalized groups.
“We founded Mielle Cares to give back to our community who has been so instrumental in the success of Mielle,” Melvin said. “Mielle remains committed to leading with purpose and impact and serving as a beacon in historically underserved communities. Expanding our impact in Black and Brown communities will become an even greater focus in the years ahead.”
The non-profit currently has several initiatives, including providing $100,000 in scholarships to HBCU students, providing $100,000 in funding to Black-owned businesses, and sending care packages to nurses on the frontline.
PHOTOS: Entrepreneurial couple Monique and Melvin Rodriguez are the founders of Mielle Organics. They will stay on to serve as CEO and COO of the company, respectively. / Products from one of Mielle Organics best-selling, signature lines. (Photos Courtesy of Mielle Organics)