Cornell McBride, Sr. Celebrates 25th Anniversary of Design Essentials

Cornell McBride Sr.
Cornell McBride Sr.

Mr. Cornell McBride Sr. is the founder and CEO of Design Essentials, which has become a multimillion dollar entity in the haircare industry. This year, Design Essentials is celebrating its 25th year anniversary, but Mr. McBride’s success story begins right in Savannah.

    Growing up in a mill house in Sugar Hill in the 50s, Mr. McBride was expected to leave school early and work in outside the Savannah Sugar Refinery, as his father and 4 older siblings did. However, through his love of reading the Savannah Morning News he gathered an awareness of alternate possibilities for his life. His entrepreneurial spirit was born from doing odd jobs to earn the 50 cents needed for a Saturday matinee at the Savannah movie theatre downtown, and those early lessons have catapulted him to the successful business he operates with his three children today. Mr. McBride became the first of 8 siblings to graduate from Tompkins High School, setting the example for the remaining siblings to follow suit. 

    Mr. McBride’s story is one that reflects the realities of the time and experiences for Savannah in Jim Crow times, as well as a story of triumph over adversity—Mr. McBride went on to serve his country in the US Air Force, become a pharmacist and create his first haircare product (Sta Sof Fro) as well as build his first company, M&M Products into a multimillion dollar business with global outposts before selling to Johnson Products in 1990.

    Starting over with Design Essentials, Mr. McBride and his family built the business out of his basement in Atlanta to currently being carried on the shelves of Target, Ulta, Sally Beauty Supply and Walmart.

    Bringing his journey full circle, Mr. McBride recently shared life lessons and business wisdom during the 25th Anniversary Celebration Design Essentials held with the huge Bronner Brother International Hair show. Here is a link to highlights of the weekend: Also, here are some tips that Mr. McBride shared in regards to lessons he has learned over the years as an entrepreneur:

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