Richelieu Dennis was born into entrepreneurship. His grandmother was from Sierra Leone and raised four children in the 1940s in a rural village in West Africa after becoming a young widow. To support her family, she made natural skin and hair care preparations and sold them to missionaries and villagers. Through her personal experiences as a village merchant, she taught Richelieu that an efficacious natural product was inclusive of everyone. This is the legacy of Richelieu’s family and his company.
Richelieu was born and raised in Liberia and came to America to attend college. When he graduated in 1991, Liberia was in a civil war and he could not return home. So, Richelieu started Sundial Brands with his college roommate, Nyema Tubman, and his mother, Mary Dennis. They made soaps developed from his grandmother’s recipes in their Queens apartment, selling them on New York City streets to survive.
As the company grew stateside, so did Richelieu’s family, with heritages ranging from Liberian and Sierra Leonean to Irish, Indian, Swedish, Filipino, German and beyond. With these different cultural influences and walks of life, Richelieu understands the criticality of an inclusive point of view even more. It impacts how he views the world, business–and most importantly–his purpose in both: empowering people to live more beautiful lives.