Natural Hair

Design Essentials Turns 25 & Confesses Coming to America Killed the Curl!

25 years in business is definitely something to be celebrated. Also, to be a minority business owner many times is even a harder plight. A few weeks back, I was a lucky attendee that had the honor of sitting in on a Luncheon that celebrated the creators of Design Essentials and their 25th Anniversary hosted by Deena Campbell.

When you go to an event like this, you plan to have a good time, meet new people to follow on social media and have a great lunch. I love it when I actually learn something and walk away with life lessons.


While eating our perfectly prepared shrimp and grits at Asante’s, I was able to sit back and listen to CEO Cornell McBride, Sr. and his children, speak about business, family, growth and legacy.


What have you noticed about Natural hair over the past few years?

  • There has been a big shift in the natural hair space.
  • Styles have come back around from past decades (afro, twist, etc.).
  • Attitudes are showing pride back then (Black Power) and pride now (Black is Beautiful).
  • People desire to have their own expression with variety in their natural hair.

What have you come to appreciate about Design Essentials over the past 25 years?

  • It’s not about what you do for yourself, but what you do for others, meaning family and employees.
  • We’re blessed to be able to create something and pass the torch.
  • It means the beginning of what could be a global company.
  • “Our products are based on texture not color of skin!” – Cornell McBride, Jr.

The funniest thing I heard at the luncheon:

Coming to America killed the curl!

A good CEO knows that when the trends shift, you shift with it. When consumers stopped wearing curls and/or relaxing their hair, you have to give the people what they want. Many companies go out of business due to lack of change. Change is progression.


Top 6 lessons learned from starting a business from scratch:

  1. Be open to change
  2. Be disciplined
  3. Always be in learn mode
  4. Communication is key
  5. Leave the egos at the door
  6. People need to speak their mind and not be afraid.

Although, growing up I had heard of Design Essentials but it was always perceived at as a luxury brand. A brand you couldn’t get in-stores but only at salons. As I’ve gotten older and understand business more, I’ve learned that the model was designed that way.


Recently, Design Essentials created a brand for naturals and is also now sold for consumers such as you and I. Last year at Essence, I tried my first Design Essentials products and I truly enjoyed the outcome. My favorite two were the Honey Gel and the Avocado leave in.


25 years is definitely a success that should be celebrated. I salute the creator Cornell McBride, Sr. (CEO), Cornell McBride, Jr (President), Andre McBride (Director of Operations) & Shalanda Armstrong (Interactive media) for creating a strong brand, effective product and loyal following.

We look forward to another 25 years.



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