Joan Johnson, Co-Founder Of Johnson Products, Has Died Aged 89

Joan Johnson, Co-Founder Of Johnson Products, Has Died Aged 89

Joan and her husband George would soon bolster their business to become one of the first black-owned company that was listed in the American Stock Exchange.

Joan Johnson, the co-founder of the still widely-used Johnsons Products Company, passed away on 6 September, according to a statement released by her son, Eric. Johnson was being treated for lung and heart disease but eventually succumbed to her illness. She was 89 years old.



 

Joan and her husband-come-business partner George Johnson started producing products such as Afro Sheen, Classy Curl, and Ultra Sheen in 1954, in Chicago's South Side. The pair would soon bolster their business to become one of the first black-owned company that was listed in the American Stock Exchange. Their company also went on to sponsor the popular 1971 television show 'Soul Train'.  



 

Johnson products saw their peak boom in the 1960s with the rise of the Black Power movement, which focused on building a strong afro-culture. The historic significance of the johnson product is so impactful, there is an Afro Sheen Blowout Kit exhibited at the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History.



 

Born Joan Betty Henderson in Chicago, Johnson was a prominent figure in the city's social circle. The businesswoman was also a trustee of the Spelman College, a historically black woman's college located in Atlanta. The Johnson Products company then flew off the charts when they became the first national sponsor of the television series 'Soul Train' in 1971. 



 

While George handled the distribution of the products by hitting the road on sales trips, Joan held the fort down by handling billing, accounting, and other day-to-day operations. Joan also ensured that as a black-owned company, Johnson Products was involved in civil rights and philanthropic causes. Despite facing a number of hardships and obstacles, Joan and George's company set the ball rolling for premium black hair products. 

Joan is survived by her husband, her children, Joan, Eric, John and George, her sister Gwendolyn Ford; grandchildren; and great-grandchildren.

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