Monday, August 24, 2009

Founder of La Bella Hair Products -- a Cuban Escapee -- Began Targeting the Hispanic Market Back in the 1980s

In 1961, when Al Rodriguez was making an escape from Cuba with his mother at age 11 -- afraid that he might be sent to a Communist indoctrination camp -- chances are he wasn't thinking too much about his hair.

At the time, while flying in a plane from Cuba to Jamaica -- and then from Jamaica to the United States -- he had no way of knowing that, just as America would be his path to capitalistic freedom, hair would be his path to financial success.

Today, the 59-year-old resident of the Los Angeles area is the proud founder of La Bella hair and personal care products. It all started with a company he formed out of his garage in the mid-70s. Called Golden Sun, the company initially sold mostly vitamins to drug and health food stores.

La Bella -- known for its placenta-based shampoos and firm gels -- didn't come along until 1988. Unlike Rodriguez's vitamin business, which he said was effectively stamped out by the aggressive tactics of corporate giants, his hair products flourished -- big time. Today, La Bella is a $21 million-a-year business -- twice as big as it was in 2000 -- and has long been the nation's top-selling brand of styling products for Hispanics.

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