CORNELL MCBRIDE SR. HAS HAD A RANGE OF SUCCESSES DURING
HIS 40-PLUS YEARS IN THE HAIR CARE BUSINESS. AS DESIGN ESSENTIALS CELEBRATES ITS 25TH ANNIVERSARY, THE CREATOR OF STA-SOF-FRO HANDS THE REINS TO THE NEXT GENERATION.
CORNELL MCBRIDE SR. has witnessed much during his 40- year career. Hairstyles have changed, formulas have too and, in some measure, the Us has changed, as well.
During this time, McBride and the companies that he founded have been witness to these changes and, most importantly,
McBride has kept his family close during those years.
“When i was 12 years old, i made a promise to my mom to
build a house for her,” McBride recalled. “i thought i could keep
my promise through sports, but i fulfilled it through education.”
After a brief look from baseball scouts, McBride joined the
military, went to college on the gi bill and became a pharmacist, which led to the creation of sta-sof-fro and the founding
of M&M Products Company with classmate Therman McKenzie.
sta-sof-fro was the first softening product developed for African-American men’s hair, making it manageable and easy to comb.
By the mid-1980s, M&M Products’ sales topped $40 million and
the product lineup included four brands sta-sof-fro, sof-n-free,
Moxie and Curly Perm. in 1989, McBride and his partner sold
M&M Products Company to Johnson Products.
The next year, McBride launched the Design essentials hair
care system, a program that combined direct distribution of premium, quality hair care solutions with the education and knowledge to effectively use them in the salon and at home. over the
years, Design essentials has grown to
more than 40 products that are distributed throughout the Us, Caribbean and
While he admits the hair care category is competitive, McBride insists
that Design essentials’ cadre of exclusive distributors— 100 strong—gives his
company an edge.
“We can educate the stylists on an
ongoing basis on new products and
new techniques,” McBride explained.
“our products are distributed to 30-
40,000 stylists, but we are still able to
keep in touch with them on a regular
Keeping in touch with stylists is paramount as hairstyles change
and product formulas evolve. right now, for example, consumers
and stylists are clamoring for natural products and ingredients
in their hair care formulas. no wonder then, that there’s Design
essential naturals with ingredients such as coconut and monoi.
“for awhile, everyone was interested in shea,” he recalled.
“now, they want more exotic ingredients in their hair care
Design essentials is meeting this demand for all things natural with products that contain argan, almond, avocado, quinoa,
bamboo and even pea sprout! McBride predicts that the move
toward natural will continue for years to come.
“it hasn’t peaked yet,”he explained.
And until it does, formulators will continue to search for ever
more exotic ingredients from all over the world.
“We’re in an environment where companies are looking at
different cultures and countries and trying to make them main-
stream,” he explained. “it’s always a hunt to find new ingredients
and always a challenge to top what you’ve already done. And you
have to remain open to new ideas.”
While he’s not sure where those ideas will come from,
McBride is quite confident that the search for mild, credible re-
laxing systems will continue. That search will include looking for
Tom Branna • Editorial Director
Cornell McBride Sr.
Damage Recovery Anti-Breakage Treatment