Richelieu Dennis

By: Errol Mars
Born: Liberia; Position: Founder, CEO; Company: Sundial Brands; Industry: Personal Care; Country: United States

Richelieu Dennis

Richelieu Dennis, is the founder and CEO of Sundial Brands, which includes SheaMoisture, Nubian Heritage, and the recently launched Madam C.J. Walker Beauty Culture, a premium hair-care line exclusively available at Sephora.

On November 27, 2017, Unilever announced an agreement to acquire Sundial Brands. Sundial’s 2017 revenue is expected to be approximately US$240 million.

In September 2015, Bain Capital acquired a minority stake in the family-owned company for an undisclosed amount, valuing it at an estimated $700 million.

Born in Liberia, Mr. Dennis came to the United States to attend renowned business school Babson College. When he graduated in 1991, he was unable to return to Liberia because of civil war. Driven by his passion for entrepreneurship and sustained by a vision to fill unmet consumer needs, Mr. Dennis partnered with his best friend and college roommate, Nyema Tubman, to address skin and hair care issues traditionally ignored by mass market companies. Drawing from his family’s roots in Africa and passed down to him from  his grandmother, Mr. Dennis incorporated four generations of recipes, wisdom and cultural experiences into natural bath and body care products, co-founding Sundial with his mother Mary Dennis and Nyema Tubman.

Mr. Dennis told the New York Times in a September 2017 interview, he would advice new college grads;

“To get to a certain level of leadership and success, you have to have conviction in what you’re doing. You have to have the stomach to stick to what you’re doing because the challenges that you’ll face, whether you’re building a business or leading people, are going to be many. So make sure that you’re willing to stick with what you believe in. We’ve been doing this for 26 years. It took me 16 years just to get our products on a retailer’s shelf.”

In 2015, Sundial was named to the Inc. 5000 list of the fastest-growing private companies in the United States and received the WWD/Beauty Inc. award for "Corporate Social Responsibility Company of the Year." Widely credited with introducing the "New General Market" inclusion concept to the beauty and retail industries.

Mr. Dennis is a graduate of Babson College 1991, with a degree in Finance, Investments & Entrepreneurial Studies.


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