1 powerful lesson from Carol’s Daughter founder Lisa Price on being successful in business and life

·6 min read

My Beauty, My Way is a video series hosted by Yahoo Life beauty director Dana Oliver, where women of different ages and backgrounds break down their beauty routines to explain what beauty truly means to them and how it represents their cultural identity.

For many Black families, the kitchen is the heart of the home. It’s where we prepare food to nurture our bodies, engage in soul-stirring conversations (and sometimes debates) and whip up homemade remedies that heal us from head to toe.

Carol’s Daughter founder Lisa Price began making fragrances and creams in her Brooklyn, N.Y. kitchen. What started out as a hobby eventually grew into a small business thanks to her mom’s intuition.

“I never thought of selling it. That was my mother’s idea,” Price tells Yahoo Life. “And she just happened to say, ‘You know St. Mary’s is having a flea market in two weeks on Saturday and cousin Karen is going to sell some stuff, and Norman and Uncle Ron are going to be there. You should take out your butters and see what happens.’ And I was like, ‘Really?’”

The response was positive and profitable, as Price watched flea market shoppers flock to her rented table and purchase her “babies.” Then the budding businesswoman says, “it just sort of began this cycle... that summer of selling at these different craft fairs, outdoors in Brooklyn on the weekends.” In 1999, she opened her first boutique in Fort Greene, Brooklyn and the next year the company made its e-commerce debut.

Many beauty insiders would agree that being featured on a 2002 segment of the Oprah Winfrey Show is what propelled Carol’s Daughter from its humble beginnings to a household name. Price had previously revealed that the company’s website had gained 17,000 visitors within 10 seconds, leading it to crash from the influx of sales. Within a few years, the company had obtained the support of A-list investors such as Jay-Z, Will Smith, Jada Pinkett Smith, Steve Stoute, Tommy Mottola and Thalía.

As her business continued growing, Price remained connected to her Brooklyn roots when creating new beauty products. She was inspired to develop the Black Vanilla Collection after attending an African street festival and meeting a vendor who would “sell this amazing incense.” Price nudge the man to share the secret to the intoxicating aroma and soon learned that the prominent note was an oil called black coconut.

Like a true kitchen chemist, Price returned to the heart of her home. She mixed ylang ylang, frankincense and other notes that layered perfectly to formulate one of Carol’s Daughter’s most popular hair care collections — Black Vanilla — to add moisture and shine to dry, dull hair.

When I have something difficult that I have to learn how to do or move through or overcome, love is how I get to the end. Lisa Price

Women and men who are in search of hair and body products made with quality natural ingredients that possess the most heavenly scents can buy Carol’s Daughter at Target, Ulta, local drugstores or on HSN. This level of visibility is major, especially for a Black woman who follows in the footsteps of legendary entrepreneurs like Annie Malone, Madam C.J. Walker and Eunice Johnson. Yet, Price is probably the most humble person you would meet in the industry. How does she stay so grounded?

“The major reason is how I was raised. You work hard, you give back, take care of your family and you’re humble,” Price explains. “I was always blessed, but then I came home and I was mom and I was LP to my husband’s GP. Being a person who had done things that others had not done, you end up being this person that’s a role model and you have that responsibility of giving back. I’m super, super proud of myself, but I also recognize every day how blessed and highly favored I am.”

This perspective has certainly paid off, as Price accomplished a major business goal in 2014 when Carol’s Daughter was acquired by the largest cosmetics company, L’Oréal. While many longtime fans of the brand considered this partnership an example of “selling out,” that didn’t deter her from remaining steadfast in her work in product development.

When defining what success means to her, Price says, “I’ve gotten to do for 27 years something I love. Doesn’t mean that it’s easy. It doesn’t mean that it isn’t hard work. I know how blessed I am that I’ve gotten to be passionate about my job for almost three decades.”

I’m super proud of myself, but I also recognize every day how blessed and highly favored I am. Lisa Price

Even in the midst of a pandemic, Price exudes a quiet confidence and laser-sharp focus on expanding Carol’s Daughter to meet the needs and desires of customers. This includes figuring out new and creative ways to test products and make sure they have her stamp of approval. Because at the end of the day, she is Carol’s Daughter.

“When I have something difficult that I have to learn how to do or move through or overcome, love is how I get to the end,” says Price. “If I don't love what it is or I don't love the person or I don't love the process, or I don't love the end goal, it makes it harder for everything to come into play. And I need to feel loved.”

Follow Lisa Price on Instagram and keep up with Carol’s Daughter on social media.

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