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Jory Luster

Hair care manufacturer Jory Luster was born on August 20, 1953 in Chicago, Illinois to Blondell and Fred Luster, Sr. After graduating from Mendel Catholic Preparatory High School in 1971, Luster received his B.S. degree in business administration from Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois, in 1975. Luster went on to attend Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, where he received his M.B.A. degree in 2000.

In 1978, Luster was appointed vice president of his family’s hair care company, Luster Products, Inc., founded in 1957, with his father, Fred Luster, serving as president and his mother, Blondell Luster, working as chairman of the board. In 1989, he helped create Luster Products, Inc.’s philanthropic branch, the Luster Foundation, dedicated to supporting community-based organizations that promote positive values and community service. That same year, he was voted chairman of the American Health and Beauty Aids Institute, a national trade organization representing the leading Black manufacturers of ethnic hair care and cosmetic products. Luster was promoted to his role as president of Luster Products, Inc. following the passing of his father in 1991. His brother and sister were also directors in the company, with Fred Luster II serving as vice president and director of research and development, and Sonja Luster-Munis serving as vice president and director of systems administration. In 2012, Luster’s daughter, Resa B. Luster, joined the company as assistant brand manager; and, in 2018, she was promoted to brand manager at large. Under Luster’s leadership, Luster Products, Inc. expanded product sales to over seventy countries internationally.

Luster served as the founder of the Leadership Education Advancement Program, or Project L.E.A.P., and served on the boards of the Near South Planning Board Executive Committee, The Luster Foundation, and Seaway National Bank. Luster was also a member of Young Presidents Organization (YPO) from 1993 to 2004, and served on the City of Chicago Circulator Board.

In 2018, Luster received the WDB Marketing L.E.G.A.C.Y Award. Luster Products, Inc. was honored at Black United Fund of Illinois Inc.’s first annual "Living Legends/Passing the Torch" awards benefit in 2001. The company has been featured in Essence magazine, Allure Magazine, Elle Magazine, Ebony Magazine, Jet Magazine, Sophisticate’s Black Hair Magazine, the Chicago Sun-times, The Chicago Defender, as well as WLS-TV Channel 7, WTTW-PBS Channel 11, and on the T.L.C. show, “Beauty Spaces.”

Luster resides in Chicago, Illinois and has three adult children.

Jory Luster was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 10, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.047

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/10/2019

Last Name

Luster

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

F.

Schools

St. Dorothy School

Mendel Catholic Preparatory High School

Bradley University

Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Business

First Name

Jory

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

LUS01

Favorite Season

Summer

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Hawaii

Favorite Quote

Always Inspect What You Expect

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/20/1953

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Favorite Food

Soul Food

Short Description

Hair care manufacturer Jory Luster (1953- ) served as vice president of his family’s hair care company, Luster Products, Inc., since 1978, and as president since 1991.

Employment

Luster Products, Inc.

Favorite Color

Blue, Silver, and Black

Gary E. Gardner

Hair care manufacturer Gary Gardner was born on August 22, 1954 in Chicago, Illinois to Edward and Bettiann Gardner. He graduated from the University of Illinois, Chicago with his B.A. degree in pre-law in 1975, and then attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, where he earned both his J.D. and M.M. degrees in 1982.

In 1964, at age ten, Gardner began working for the family business, Soft Sheen Products, Inc., packaging hair care items with his younger sister in the family’s home in Chicago. After graduating from Northwestern in 1982, Gardner rejoined Soft Sheen Products, Inc. and transitioned to president in 1985, succeeding his father, Ed Gardner, who remained as chairman. He served as president until 1996, when he stepped down to pursue his own ethnic hair care company in Chicago called Namaste Laboratories, with his wife, Denise. In 1999, Gardner and his wife launched their own philanthropic organization, the Gary and Denise Family Foundation, which focused on youth participation in the arts. Namaste Laboratories was later bought by the Indian consumer goods producer, Dabur India Ltd., in 2010, and Gardner remained with his management team to continue running the laboratory. In 2014, Gardner co-founded a private equity firm based out of Chicago called P.F.G., LLC, where he also served as president. The following year, Gardner and his wife established the Denise and Gary Gardner Scholarship at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2015 to assist undergraduate students’ education at the Art Institute, primarily those from the South Side.

Gardner has been a member of the American Health and Beauty Aids Institute, and during his time as president of Soft Sheen, the company received several awards, including being ranked sixth on Black Enterprise’s top 100 service industry companies in 1987 and, two years later, receiving the title of the Company of the Year by Black Enterprise.

Gardner and his wife reside in Chicago, Illinois, where they run the Gary and Denise Family Foundation and maintain a private art collection. The couple was awarded the Art Alliance of Illinois’ Citizen’s Advocate Award in 2018.

Gary Gardner was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 13, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.060

Sex

Male

Interview Date

7/13/2019

Last Name

Gardner

Maker Category
Marital Status

Married

Middle Name

E.

Schools

Northwestern University

University of Illinois at Chicago

First Name

Gary

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

GAR07

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

Southern Florida

Favorite Quote

None

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

8/22/1954

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Favorite Food

Chicken Wings

Short Description

Hair care manufacturer Gary Gardner (1954 - ) served as president of Soft Sheen Products, Inc from 1985 to 1996, before founding hair care company, Namaste Laboratories, in 1996 and private equity firm, P.F.G., LLC, in 2014.

Employment

Soft Sheen Products, Inc.

Namaste Laboratories

P.F.G., LLC

Favorite Color

Blue

Terri Gardner

Hair care manufacturer and advertising executive Terri Gardner was born on February 21, 1956 in Chicago, Illinois, to Edward and Bettiann Gardner. She attended and graduated from the University of Illinois, Chicago where she received her B.A. degree in photography and film in 1979. She later earned her M.S.W. degree in social work from Loyola University of Chicago in 2007.

Gardner started working with the family business, Soft Sheen Products, Inc., in 1965, packaging hair care products in her family’s Chicago home. She continued working at the company through college, and after graduating, she launched an advertising firm called Brainstorm Communications in 1981, which served as Soft Sheen Products, Inc.’s in-house advertising and publishing company. Brainstorm Communications’ clients also included the American Health and Beauty Aids Institute, Advance Parking Technologies, Inc., Chicago’s 1992 “Project Vote!”, and Chicago’s New Regal Theatre Foundation. Brainstorm was also the lead agency that created “Come Alive Oct, 5” campaign that registered hundreds of thousands of voters in Chicago. In 1996, Gardner stepped down from her position as president of Brainstorm Communications when she was appointed president of Soft Sheen Products, Inc., succeeding her older brother, Gary E. Gardner, who resigned to start his own ethnic hair care company, Namaste Laboratories. L’Oreal bought Soft Sheen Products, Inc. two years later in 1998, and Gardner remained there as its president. In 2000, she was hired to work with U.S. Representative Bobby Rush on his “Cease Fire” campaign, aimed at addressing violence and crimes against women on Chicago’s South Side. That same year, L’Oreal acquired hair care company, Carson Products, out of Georgia, which had previously acquired Chicago’s Johnson Products. Gardner led L’Oreal’s merger of Carson Products with Soft Sheen Products, Inc., creating a single brand, Soft Sheen-Carson, which she remained to serve as president of for one year. In 2001, after thirty-six years with the company, she retired from Soft Sheen-Carson.

Gardner has served on the board of directors for the Social Venture Network, the Jazz Institute of Chicago, Trinity Hospital Community Board, and was also part of the leadership at a spiritual center in Chicago.

In 1987, Soft Sheen Products, Inc. ranked number six in Black Enterprise magazine’s industrial/service sector top 100 companies; and, in 1989, they were named the Company of the Year. They were selected for the top 100 again, ranking number eleven in 1995.

Terri Gardner was interviewed by The HistoryMakers on July 8, 2019.

Accession Number

A2019.058

Sex

Female

Interview Date

7/8/2019

Last Name

Gardner

Maker Category
Marital Status

Single

Schools

University of Illinois at Chicago

First Name

Terri

Birth City, State, Country

Chicago

HM ID

GAR06

Favorite Season

Fall

State

Illinois

Favorite Vacation Destination

New Mexico or Alaska

Favorite Quote

Be Who You Is

Bio Photo
Speakers Bureau Region State

Illinois

Birth Date

2/21/1956

Birth Place Term
Speakers Bureau Region City

Chicago

Favorite Food

French Fries

Short Description

Hair care manufacturer and advertising executive Terri Gardner (1957- ) founded her own advertising firm, Brainstorm Communications, which was the in-house advertising and publishing agency for her family’s hair care company, Soft Sheen Products, Inc., where she later served as president.

Employment

Brainstorm Communications

Soft Sheen Products. Inc.

Soft Sheen-Carson

Favorite Color

Green