Linda Johnson Rice on the Art of Reinvention

Linda Johnson Rice, Chairman, Johnson Publishing Co.
Linda Johnson Rice, Chairman, Johnson Publishing Co.

At the Black Enterprise Women of Power Summit, a common theme throughout the event is minority women continuing to strive for excellence no matter what position or phase of career. During the “Risk, Re-brand, Reboot” session, attendees got the chance to hear key insights on how to innovate and successfully transition into continued advancement.

Featured speakers Linda Johnson Rice, chairman of Johnson Publishing Co., and Desiree Rogers, CEO of the powerhouse media and beauty brand, talked about expanding the company’s legacy, repositioning Jet, Ebony and Fashion Fair cosmetics and their own experiences with reinventing their careers as well.

On continuing a legacy that empowers women:“My father [John H. Johnson, founder of Johnson Publishing Co.] was very forward thinking, said Johnson Rice. Forty years ago, the head of HR was a woman, general counsel was a woman… my mother [Eunice Johnson] was the one who spawned the name Ebony. He recognized right away the tremendous intellect and sensitivity that women brought to the table.

Today… we three [Desiree Rogers, COO Cheryl Mayberry McKissack, and I] work very hard together. There’s so much that’s been said about women not being able to work together and in-fighting, but we just don’t get that. We support each other.  We have the same goals, the same values and the same mission.”

On reinventing Fashion Fair and taking on today’s beauty industry: “[Fashion Fair] has never left the market. We have always been in the department stores, [and we remain] the one line [for women of color] that’s in prestige cosmetics in the stores, said Rogers.

Now certainly, over time, we’ve neglected the management of that, so over the past two years, all the packaging is new, all the combinations have been looked at…We’ve streamlined a little more.

We also just hired a new global creative director, Tia Dantzler… who [has worked with] everyone from Jennifer Hudson to Viola Davis… She is fantastic.

I think [consumers] will be pleasantly pleased and [they’ll] be excited about [what we’re offering with Fashion Fair.]

On facing the challenge of career and business transitions: “What I learned about myself is that I’m a lot stronger than I thought I was,” said Johnson Rice. “I think a lot of us are afraid to do things and are unsure, but you just have to go for it. … When my father died and my mother died, [I thought] ‘What am I going to do?’ and my whole world fell apart. But I realized that the sun comes up every day, and you do have to go on. I found my own strength and that was incredible for me.

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Source: Black Enterprise | Janell Hazelwood