The roots of Johnson Products weave a story rich in African American History as a testament to the American Dream. The story begins in Richton, Mississippi, in 1927 when George Ellis Johnson was born in a three-room sharecropper’s shack. After his parents divorced, 2-year-old George and his mother, Priscilla, moved to Chicago. As soon as he was old enough, George started shining shoes and selling bottles he collected to help keep food on the table. As he got older, he waited tables and set pins in a bowling alley. Midway through high school, he left to work full-time for the Fuller Products Company, a black-owned cosmetics firm. A simple beginning… years of hard work… perseverance… the formulation of a dream…

If you have a new idea, your biggest job is going to be to inform the public what you’ve got.
- George Johnson
In 1954, George Johnson borrowed $250 from a bank and another $250 from a friend and launched his own company, Johnson Products – the first hair care brand developed specifically for African American hair. The company’s first product was Ultra Wave, a hair relaxer for men. In 1957, Ultra Sheen was introduced as a hair relaxer for women. During the next quarter century, more product lines were introduced like Afro Sheen, and the most recognizable Johnson Products brand of all, the Ultra Sheen hair dress line. In 1981, the company introduced Gentle Treatment, the first no-lye conditioning relaxer on the market. And in 1989, Gentle Treatment expanded by adding a formula designed specifically for gray hair.

As a result of the enormous success and continuing growth of the company, in 1971 Johnson Products became the first minority-run business listed on the New York Stock Exchange. In 2003, Johnson Products became a part of the Procter & Gamble family. The long standing heritage and proven success through more than two decades of acquistions and mergers is a testament to the strength of Johnson Products’ brands.

Our success has been a beacon for a lot of Blacks who had the ambition to try to do something and were encouraged by the fact that we were successful.
- George Johnson

Johnson Products has remained a trusted brand for more than a half century. Developed by an African-American for African-Americans, Johnson Products continue to reinforce its ties to the community. Since 1960, the company has spent nearly all of its advertising dollars in black-owned publications like Ebony and Jet magazines, it expanded into ethnic radio, and became the first black advertiser to sponsor a nationally-syndicated television show, TV’s trendsetting Soul Train. Today, the company continues to develop hair care products of the highest caliber to meet the ever changing needs and desires of its African-American clients.

I am most proud of the impact that my success has had upon the Black youth in our community.
- George Johnson