The owner of America’s largest black-owned business, Joan Johnson, died last week at 89. Along with her husband, George Johnson, she founded a black hair company in Chicago. This later became the first black-owned company traded on the American Stock Exchange. The co-founder of the legendary Johnson Products Company, died in Chicago on Friday after a prolonged illness. She had been dominating the black market since 1954 with her personal care products. Afro Sheen, Ultra Sheen and Gentle Treatment are unbeatable in the industry.
Combination of Medical Conditions
She had been dealing, for a long time, with a combination of serious medical conditions. After her accident in 2005, she had to undergo at least five back surgeries that added to her illness. After battling for more than a decade, she died on Friday evening in Chicago. Services will be held for Joan Johnson on Friday as well. She was also a trustee of Atlanta’s Spelman College. There, a scholarship will be named in her honor, too.
$250 Investment into Business
Operating in a plant Chicago’s South Side, Joan and George turned a $250 investment into Johnson Products. From 1967 to 1976, the sales of the trailblazing company grew from about $4 million to $40 million. Joan was said to bring the culture of integrity to the company. She always came up with creative names for products and the brand.
Sponsoring Soul Train
Joan was also dedicated to create more African American businesses. Her company was the first to ever sponsor Soul Train. She took this show of historic musical variety from local Chicago television to a national audience, during the ‘70s. Everyone always had a great confidence in her abilities to make her vision successful.
American Stock Exchange
In 1971, under this couple’s leadership, their business became the first black-owned company traded on the American Stock Exchange. The list of nation’s largest black-owned businesses was repeatedly topped by them. Black Enterprise Magazine also awarded them A.G. Gaston Lifetime Achievement Award, its highest entrepreneurial honor. Her achievements have always been celebrated with great zest in the entrepreneurial community. Joan Johnson did not only provide a path but she also created a path when there was absolutely none.