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Bettiann Gardner

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Information about Bettiann Gardner

Profile image of Bettiann Gardner

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
StyleMakers
Occupation(s):
Personal Care Entrepreneur

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Gumbo
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Caribbean
Favorite Quote:
What you see, is what you get

Birthplace

Born:
6/26/1930
Birth Location:
Chicago, Illinois

Profession

Category:
BusinessMakers
StyleMakers
Occupation(s):
Personal Care Entrepreneur

Favorites

Favorite Color:
None
Favorite Food:
Gumbo
Favorite Time of Year:
None
Favorite Vacation Spot:
Caribbean
Favorite Quote:
What you see, is what you get

Birthplace

Born:
6/26/1930
Birth Location:
Chicago
See how Bettiann Gardner is related to other HistoryMakers

Biography

Working with her husband and business partner, Edward, Bettiann Gardner became an innovator in African American hair care when she co-founded Soft Sheen Products, Inc. in 1964. Soft Sheen Products began in the couple's basement in Chicago; their goal was to create better hair care products designed specifically for African Americans. With brands such as Optimum and Care Free Curl, Soft Sheen Products grew into a multimillion-dollar enterprise employing over four hundred Chicagoans. Exporting to Canada, the Caribbean, and West Africa, the company became a global force, eventually being purchased by the L'Oreal group in 1998.

From the beginning of her business activities, Gardner saw to it that each of her children were also involved in Soft Sheen Products. A staunch advocate of the arts and African American theater, Gardner helped to revitalize the old Regal Theater by contributing millions toward the purchase of the once-dormant Avalon Theater in 1987. As further testament to her commitment to the arts, Gardner also supported the New Regal Theater Foundation, and acted as chairwoman of the Chicago Sinfonietta's honorary board of directors.

Gardner and Edward, her husband of over fifty years, raised four children.

See how Bettiann Gardner is related to other HistoryMakers
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  • Tape: 1 Story: 1 - Slating of Bettiann Gardner interview
  • Tape: 1 Story: 2 - Bettiann Gardner briefly gives her parents' names and places of birth
  • Tape: 1 Story: 3 - Bettiann Gardner talks about her grandparents and her relationships with them
  • Tape: 1 Story: 4 - Bettiann Gardner talks about her parents' backgrounds
  • Tape: 1 Story: 5 - Bettiann Gardner lists some of her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 6 - Bettiann Gardner lists more of her favorites
  • Tape: 1 Story: 7 - Bettiann Gardner recalls her personality as a child and describes her home life
  • Tape: 1 Story: 8 - Bettiann Gardner describes her neighborhood as a child
  • Tape: 1 Story: 9 - Bettiann Gardner talks about her mother's political activities
  • Tape: 1 Story: 10 - Bettiann Gardner talks briefly about her religious affiliation
  • Tape: 1 Story: 11 - Bettiann Gardner recalls her early school years
  • Tape: 1 Story: 12 - Bettiann Gardner talks about her courtship and marriage to Edward Gardner
  • Tape: 2 Story: 1 - Bettiann Gardner talks about her grandfather's stories as a Pullman porter
  • Tape: 2 Story: 2 - Bettiann Gardner talks about the origins of New Regal Theater
  • Tape: 2 Story: 3 - Bettiann Gardner discusses the purpose and programs of the New Regal Theatre
  • Tape: 2 Story: 4 - Bettiann Gardner talks about her activities with the Chicago Sinfonietta
  • Tape: 2 Story: 5 - Bettiann Gardner talks briefly about her involvement with the Committee of 200 organization
  • Tape: 2 Story: 6 - Bettiann Gardner details the origins of the Soft Sheen Products hair care empire
  • Tape: 2 Story: 7 - Bettiann Gardner talks about her family's participation at Soft Sheen and selling the company
  • Tape: 3 Story: 1 - Bettiann Gardner details the sale of the Soft Sheen Products company
  • Tape: 3 Story: 2 - Bettiann Gardner talks more about the sale of Soft Sheen Products and her daughter's role in the transition
  • Tape: 3 Story: 3 - Bettiann Gardner talks about her daughter's activities after stepping down as CEO of Soft Sheen Products
  • Tape: 3 Story: 4 - Bettiann Gardner shares her personal philosophy
  • Tape: 3 Story: 5 - Bettiann Gardner talks about how she would like to be remembered
  • Tape: 3 Story: 6 - Bettiann Gardner details her activities as publisher of 'ShopTalk' trade magazine
  • Tape: 3 Story: 7 - Bettiann Gardner talks about her ownership of the Chicago Bulls professional basketball team
  • Tape: 3 Story: 8 - Bettiann Gardner talks about her role as a grandmother