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Joan Johnson, Whose Company Broke a Racial Barrier, Dies at 89

Black Women in Business

Joan Johnson, Whose Company Broke a Racial Barrier, Dies at 89

With her husband, George, she founded the hair-care and cosmetics company Johnson Products, the first black-owned business on the American Stock Exchange.

By Neil Genzlinger via https://www.nytimes.com

Joan Johnson, who with her husband, George, founded Johnson Products, a hair-product concern that became one of the most successful black-owned businesses in the United States and the first to be listed on the American Stock Exchange, died on Sept. 6 at her home in Chicago. She was 89.

The publicist Dori Wilson, who had known Mrs. Johnson for decades, announced her death.

At a time when few companies paid much attention to black consumers, the Johnsons made a fortune with hair-care products aimed at black customers, beginning with a hair relaxer for men that Mr. Johnson developed while working for a cosmetics company.

In 1954, with a partner, a barber who soon dropped out, they formed the company that became Johnson Products. In the 1960s, it had an estimated 80 percent of the black hair-care market, and…

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I am a future butterfly at the stage of growth when I am turning into an adult. I am enclosed in a hard case shell formed by love, family, and friends. It is the hardest stage of becoming a black butterfly. You will encounter many hardships only to come out stronger and better than what you went in. At this stage, you are finding out who you truly are and how to love yourself.

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