Cosmetics company keeps its heart in Memphis community for 85 years

Hidden History

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — A longtime Memphis business that’s supplied cosmetics and beauty products to African-Americans has stood the test of time as a true example of dedication and diversity.

Lucky Heart Cosmetics was established in 1935 by a Jewish Memphian. The company has been selling its products locally and around the world ever since.

The founders of Lucky Heart had a brilliant idea of getting those products out to customers wherever they may be — like down in Mississippi, Georgia, Alabama and Arkansas.

But what makes this company special are employees like Olivet Montgomery and Bennie Franklin, both with a combined 85-plus years on the job.

“It’s an invaluable asset to have these people still around,” said Jeremy Stein, owner and CEO of Lucky Heart. “They aren’t employees, they’re family.”

Montgomery started working for Lucky Heart in 1965, when she was 27 years old.
 
“I needed the job because I wanted to send my daughter to college,” she said. “I worked here and then I worked at Bemis Bag. I worked two jobs to send her off to school and I was trying to buy a home.”

Montgomery worked at the Lucky Heart main office at Huling and Mulberry, around the corner from what was then the Lorainne Motel.

She was on the job when Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was assassinated.

Bennie Franklin, a 35-year employee, is admittedly a “workaholic.”
   
“They accuse me of trying to do too much, because I’m doing this, I’m doing that, I’m doing this. So that’s kind of how I work,” she said.

Each day, you’ll find her blending locally sourced materials to make many popular products for African American men and women, and working alongside people she loves.
    
“Anytime you been here that long, it is family, it’s family,” she said.

Once thriving on door-to-door-type sales or big events like the Church of God in Christ’s annual Memphis convention, Lucky Heart is now shifting its work flow to attract more web traffic and younger customers.

While the number of employees has decreased over the years, there’s no shortage of enthusiasm.

Theodore Crystian, who works in product formulation packaging, is getting valuable advice  from Lucky Heart in developing and marketing his own product line called WAVZ.

At 29 years old, he knows he’s learning from the best.

“Every day is like a lesson with them, because I try to soak up as much of the knowledge they have, especially in this industry,” Crystian said.

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