Beverly Johnson, Pioneer Model, Thrives As Businesswoman

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[Byrd's Eye View]

Beverly Johnson, the first Black super model to grace the cover of Vogue Magazine in 1974 is making her mark on the other side of the beauty industry--she's launched her own hair care product line for African American hair.

Johnson's hair care line, aptly called "Beverly Johnson Hair Care," features seven restorative, conditioning and styling products.

“I’m happy to be partnered with someone who is Black and really knows Black hair and understands how to address all the wear and tear of the heat from the constant styling, with strengthening and conditioning products," Johnson says, during my recent interview with her.

Having tested some samples, I agree with Johnson when she says, about her Products—“the smell is delicious.” Even better than the smell however, Johnson says her line doesn't contain some of the harmful chemicals, such as paraben, found in many Black hair products. "Paraben, people may not know about, is carcinogenetic which means it gives you cancer and its in most of the Black products” Johnson says.

Her products also don't have too much water in them since it would cause the hair to revert back to wavy.

With a laugh, Johnson admits that her daughter, who loves her products was also her "guinea pig." Her daughter's favorite products are the anti-breakage serum and extra strength serum.

Johnson, during our interview, offers several hair care tips, including the importance of changing products. "The thing about hair care products is that the hair gets used to one product. Let’s say you use the anti-breakage serum for a while. After a few months, your hair kind of gets used to it so then you change it to the extra strength serum. You have to fool the hair and this is one of the reasons I have so many conditioning products."

Her products are meant to address unique needs of African American hair--the combing spray "is awesome for combing through the hair while wet," Johnson says, and adds, "the shine spray is a-must-have for a polished finish that’s not heavy."

Her products can also be used on fine, course and color-treated hair, she says.

Johnson says another advantage of her products is that they can be cocktailed together. “I prepared for that, 'cause I know I’m from the school where if one works then two must be great!”

The fashion industry hasn't changed much since Johnson's modeling days, in terms of the number of Black models getting major modeling work. "It’s an absolute pity that the models aren't being booked and they are not being asked to do the shows," Johnson tells me.

However, hair care is a $10 billion industry that offers opportunities for Blacks. "It's great to be able to participate in it in a way where I am one of a number of Black-owned hair care manufacturers," she explains. "So I say 'hey there is plenty of room, pitch your business and nobody knows about our needs better than we do, so why not participate in it economically also?' That’s what I’m about.”

Johnson is constantly working to add new products to her line, including incorporating hair color for African American hair. ”I have a fabulous product that I am trying to get together, it’s a Japanese product. It is so amazing; and what's amazing about it is that it's kind of like henna,  but it’s a little more  sophisticated. It doesn’t have the ammonia and other stuff that destroys your hair."

Johnson also wants to add a shampoo to her line. “There’s this great moisturizing shampoo that moisturizes the hair but doesn’t leave the hair filmy. It still leaves the hair clean," Johnson says. "I’d like to bring that out as well I ‘d like to round out the entire line.”

Johnson, 58 and still maintaining her stunning looks, has always been tireless--Wearing many hats: mom, actress, author, activist, entrepreneur, and TV personality.

A champion swimmer in her youth, she was a law student at Northeastern University when she tried modeling at a friend's suggestion, and never looked back. She eventually appeared on over 500 magazine covers.

She ventured into business when she partnered with Amekor to create the Beverly Johnson Hair Collection, a line of wigs and hair extension for the African American market. Her business now grows with this new product line of restorative and styling hair care products which is available at Target stores.

Johnson says her passion for hair goes way back. "I’m having a lot of fun," she says. "We have this love affair with our hair, and as I do these interviews I’m thinking, since I was a little girl I could remember my dad yelling down the stairs 'I smell hair down there!' It's a life long thing!”

The products can also be ordered directly from

The author can be contacted at Also visit



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