During Black History Month, we pause to salute and reflect on the contributions African Americans have made to the rich fabric that makes up the United States.There are many untold stories that reveal the best of Americans who stepped up when duty called, broke color barriers, or quietly made their communities better one person at a time. Sometimes these individuals are the closest to us, we don’t realized their significance until they are gone. This unfortunately was the case for me earlier this month. An icon in the beauty supply production business William Joe Dowdy, role model and a mentor to many “Newarkers” pass away. I was fortunate to live near the Dowdys, and is friends of one of his sons, and through this relationship and observations, I received my introduction to entrepreneurship. The awareness as a youth of a businessmen in our community, made it conceivable to become an entrepreneur. He was a individual I admired and looked up to, a man in my community that many saw as a role model, that gave evidence to the possibilities of a self made businessman.
When we think about historically significant business icons in the beauty industry frequently, comes to mind, from Madame CJ Walker, to our local beauty entrepreneur, Ms. Louise Scott, the owner of a black women’s own beauty company and school. The Krueger-Scott Mansion a historic landmark on Martin Luther King Blvd, still bears her name.
In 1981, Mr Dowdy founded Razac, a beauty supply production company to provide salon professionals and consumers with the unparalleled advance in African American hair care. Mr. Dowdy, was a salon professional who understood the needs of stylist in an ever-changing industry and has made Razac one of the leading African American hair care product manufactures worldwide. As a driven family-owned and operated company, Razac made tremendous strides in the marketplace with its lead brand, Perfect For Perms.
An industry fixture for more than twenty years, the Perfect for Perms line features an array of innovative maintenance and conditioning products, all while maintaining the highest level of quality and integrity. In 2002, Razac diversified its portfolio and created Loc-A-Fella natural hair care system, a series of African American hair products for males. Making a bold statement in African American natural hair care circles, the rapid development and growth of Loc-A-Fella has propelled the line as one of the finest of its kind.
This signature line, which emphasizes moisture based and anti-itch conditioning items, remains in line with the Razac tradition: creating innovative products with quality ingredients
Aside from standing as an industry leader in the world of beauty, he was strongly committed to community prosperity always supporting the community of Newark, maintaining its operations in Newark. He formed the William J. Dowdy Foundation is dedicated to inner city progress and focuses on community outreach programming, scholarship allocation, and corporate sponsorships of civic events. Additionally, Razac helps foster community growth with cultural enrichment (such as, The Lincoln Park Music Festival) and youth development programs and countless speaking engagements.
Stories of African Americans like Mr. Dowdy do not have a singular narrative, but most contain common threads of resilience and perseverance. This Newarker is a shining examples of a legacy African American safe made men.