As a child, Lisa Price was always obsessed with fragrances. Imitating her favorite artist, Prince, Lisa created a fragrance bar. She mixed different scents and made her own fragrances. Over the years, the fragrance hobby grew into other products like body creams and hair care products. Following her mother’s suggestion, Lisa started selling the products at flea markets. At this time, Lisa worked in film and television production as a writer’s assistant for the hugely popular sitcom The Cosby Show. “I continued selling out of my home until 1996, when I was expecting my first child. I quit TV because I knew I couldn’t do that, be a mom, be a wife and do this business.” At that point, she decided to focus on her beauty product business and her growing family. “I came up with the name at the very beginning. I made a list of things that I was and a list of things I wanted to become. There were other things on the list, like Robert’s daughter and Gordon’s girlfriend. But when I said Carol’s Daughter, I got goose bumps. It sounded right,” she says.
A number of marvels took place that helped catapult Carol Daughter’s success. Through positive word of mouth, the beauty line began having a cult following. First, Price and her products were featured in Essence Magazine which helped increase sales for her web- and mail order-based business and then attracted celebrity fans like Jada Pinkett Smith, Mary J. Blige, Erykah Badu, Brad Pitt and Chaka Khan. Ultimately, the attention led to major investments for the company from influential people like Steve Stoute and hip-hop mogul Jay-Z.
In 1999, Price opened her first store in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene neighborhood. In 2002, she appeared on The Oprah Winfrey Show, which sparked an immediate response from viewers. By 2005, Carol’s Daughter opened up a second store featuring a spa in Harlem, N.Y. Over the years, Carol’s Daughter has featured a number of notable celebrity spokeswomen including Jada Pinkett Smith and Mary J Blige. After that, in 2010, the company launched its first celebrity fragrance: “My Life: Mary J. Blige”, a collaboration between Price and Blige.
“Carol’s Daughter has made other people in the beauty business look at African- American consumers in a different way. When I first started to do this, the black products were always at the back of the drugstore on the lower shelves. They were always dusty, dirty and sticky; they looked like nobody ever touched them. That’s changing,” explains Price.
Today, Carol’s Daughters products are sold in big name stores such as Sephora, Macy’s, Dillards and others. In 2009, Disney enlisted Carol’s Daughter to create children’s products tied to the movie “The Princess and the Frog” including Princess Tiana bubble bath, shampoo, conditioner and detangling mist.
In the beginning, Carol’s Daughter was a family-run operation but as the business grew, Lisa had to hire people with more experience. At first she was a bit intimidated by these business veterans but quickly realized that no one knew her business better than she did. “In the beginning, you feel like they know everything. And then you find out they really don’t,” she says. Now, Price plays a more active role in the company’s undertakings. “I sit at the table, but not necessarily at the head of the table. I feel like I’m the person in the room who’s maintaining everything. The way the company was founded stays the same,” she notes.
“I want people to feel passionate, the way that I do and feel like they are coming to a family and coming to a place that builds them up,” Price notes. She has learned a lot along the way while building the multi-million dollar company. When asked what her biggest obstacle was, Price explains, “My biggest obstacle is myself — being afraid, being nervous. It’s hard sometimes to get past yourself, to just get over yourself. I’ve learned, as the company has changed and different management people come and go, the constant is me. I can’t control the economy. I can’t control what beauty buyers are going to want tomorrow versus what they want today. But what I can control is me, and how I react to it and how I respond to it,” she says.
Proving to be a great businessperson, Price has received many accolades including FFAWN’s I am Power Award and National Black MBA Associate Entrepreneur of the Year award.
“It’s been a really interesting journey. I am always being pushed and challenged. I don’t think I would have grown as much as I did over the years. There are things that I know and do now that 15 years ago, I would have never thought I could do. I would have been too afraid. Being in this position has put me in a situation where I have to do these things and that’s invaluable to me. To have grown as a person, to feel stronger and more confident…I feel proud of myself more than I once did,” she says.