Los Angeles – On Saturday, June 12, the African-American business community will pay homage to a man and his wife who turned $500 into millions when they founded Johnson Products Company, Inc., makers of Ultra Sheen and Gentle Treatment.
JPC’s brands became household names for African-Americans, especially when George E. Johnson, Sr. and his wife Joan teamed up with Don Cornelius and took his Soul Train TV show national. Since the company was sold in 2004, Mr. Johnson always lamented the loss, because even though it made good business sense, the community suffered by losing jobs when the manufacturing plan was moved out of the Chicago Black community, as well as the philanthropy, scholarships and support for common causes previously enjoyed.
Until last year, the brands languished at Procter & Gamble, ultimately, until Eric Brown and his wife Southern California raised Renee Cottrell Brown decided that after their years of expertise from Proline Corporation, a multimillion dollar company owned by Renee’s father, Comer Cottrell, they wanted to get back in to the industry. But this time they were going to buy the largest brand–Johnson Products–and return it to the community. That move was jubilantly welcomed when it was announced last March.
The tribute will take place at an event also founded by Mr. Johnson and his wife Joan–The Great Model Search. The finale was the perfect place to have a coming out party and feat the Johnsons for their lifetime achievements.
Celebrity judges include Wendy Raquel Robinson, Rockmond Dunbar, Lee Bailey, Joceyln Amador, Editor-In-Chief of Sophisticate’s Black Hair Styles and Care Guide as well as the winning of the voting portion of the contest, Alicia Miles.
Kevin Nash, popular air personality at KJLH FM will be the Master of ceremonies, and the 8 models who won the opportunity to come to Los Angeles will be presented and four winners will be chosen.
Held at the historic El Rey Theater at 8 p.m., June 12, this event is very exclusive. The only way to attend is to be invited or to go to a remote with KJLH radio at Sally Beauty (39th and Crenshaw) in L.A., from Noon until 2 pm June 5 and with a minimum purchase you will be given a complimentary ticket (a $75 value.)
George E. Johnson, Sr. came from humble beginnings. He was born in Mississippi on June 16, 1927, in a three-room sharecropper’s shack. In 1954, he began building the world’s best-known black hair care products manufacturer in Chicago, Johnson Products Company, which he built from a $500 initial investment to sell for millions.
Johnson Products found success in the women’s hair care market with the development of Ultra Sheen, a revolutionary hair straightener that could easily be used in the home. Conversely, he developed the most famous products for African American natural hair, Afro Sheen, as well. Over the next few decades, Johnson Products continued to grow, focusing its efforts on not only creating quality products, but also on training cosmetologists on proper usage. In 1964, Johnson founded Independence Bank, and during the 1960s, he became the exclusive sponsor behind the nationally syndicated dance show Soul Train. In 1971, Johnson Products became the first African American-owned company to be listed on the American Stock Exchange. His wife Joan has served as Chairman of the Board of JPC. That same year, Johnson became the first African American to serve on the board of directors of Commonwealth Edison.
JPC was bought by Procter & Gamble in 2004 and its products were marketed as part of the P&G portfolio. In March of 2009, a consortium of minority investment firms bought the company from P&G to reestablish JPC’s position as the country’s largest and oldest African-American-owned companies. That company is led by Eric and Renee Brown, who pay homage to Mr. Johnson at tonight’s Grand Finale of The Great Model Search, a promotion Mr. Johnson created for his brand Gentle Treatment decades ago.
The El Rey Theater is located at 5515 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles, 90036. For media inquiries, contact Isidra Person-Lynn, publicist, at (213) 422-8707 or visit the greatmodelsearch.com.