The Rucker sisters possess beauty, brains, Southern charm, and relentless drive. We first met the sisters on WE tv’s “Love Thy Sister” that premiered in January of 2015. Ione Rucker-Jamison, Ellen Rucker Sellers and Ruby Rucker-Cooper are part of a prominent family from South Carolina. Ione, who graduated from Spelman College and Ellen, who graduated from the University of North Carolina, joined forces to start a hair care line, Rucker Roots. Rucker Roots promotes healthy hair through the use of natural products. They launched the line to encourage all women, no matter their hair texture, to nourish their hair with natural products. The company’s name is truly inspired by their family’s values. The sisters spoke with rolling out about Rucker Roots and growing the brand into a household name.
Tell us a little bit about your backstory.
Ione: We started the company in 2014, right before the launching of “Love Thy Sister” on WE tv. We wanted to present products that were true to our Southern culture and roots. Growing up, our mother used to make concoctions to make our hair more moisturized and manageable. In those concoctions were a lot of things that came from our father’s garden. My father and my grandfather always had and garden and would bring home all these vegetables. Our formula and our products are a part of that history. Our grandmother in the 1930s was a hair model for one of the first African American hair factories in Atlanta. She was always adamant about taking good care of our hair, making sure we were chemical free and conditioned and treated our hair nicely. That’s the backstory of why we created the company with some of the same ingredients that we used growing up. We both have 12-year-old daughters and we found ourselves doing the same concoctions on their hair. We named it after our maiden name because we really wanted to stay true to our Southern roots and that’s why it’s Rucker and Roots.
What sets Rucker Roots apart from other natural products?
Ione: We have the vegetable root oil, the Rucker Roots complex in all of our products that’s; turnip root oil, carrot root oil, and ginger root oil. We are 100 percent vegan, sulfate free, paraben-free, no mineral oils, no artificial colors,
Ellen: The reason that we use the three oils is [that] the turnip root oil really helps with the shine and elasticity of the shaft of the hair, the ginger really helps with stimulating growth at the root, and the carrot is really good for mending split ends. We really wanted to target all sections of the hair, that’s why we chose those three.
Where can women buy your products?
Ellen: We are online at Rucker Roots.com. We are starting to be in a lot of beauty supply stores. We are starting there first. We’re in Tisuns beauty supply store in North Carolina. We’re in Ebony beauty supply in Detroit. We’re also in J&K beauty, Sterling beauty supply in Los Angeles. We’re in a lot of beauty salons locally in the North and South Carolina areas. Our online presence is huge.
What advice do you have for young women wanting to pursue entrepreneurship?
Ellen: This is my second company, I had a private chiropractic practice for 12 years and now I have Rucker Roots. My advice is you’re going to have a lot of hard times, a lot of times when you’re doubting if you should keep going, at those times you just have to dig deep and find a way past those times. When you feel that way, you’re right on the verge of great success. Don’t give up, keep being passionate and if you keep working on it, you will be successful.
Who do you look to for mentorship or advice?
Ellen: I think both of us look to our father and those who came before him. We come from a legacy of entrepreneurs. We come from a father who has been in dentistry and has had a successful dental practice for 50 plus years. I think that being from a family that works hard is our inspiration and motivation.
Tell us about your show, “Love Thy Sister” and what that show means to you.
Ione: “Love Thy Sister” was a family show, and it was presented to us by a good friend who is a Hollywood producer, Datari Turner. Ellen and I were both previously married to NBA stars. We got asked a lot to be on different reality shows that we didn’t really see fit for our personalities and for our family, so we turned them down. When Datarti presented us with a family show because he knows our family so well it was hard to turn down. The main three cast members were Ellen, Ruby and [me]. It was really fun to work on a show with your family. We are not only sisters but we’re best friends.
What does being a Black woman in today’s society mean to you?
Ione: I think it’s a wonderful time right now to be a Black woman. The #Blackgirlmagic has just gone viral. It’s very empowering and uplifting right now to be a Black woman in today’s world. We love our hair, our skin color, we’re embracing all of those things that make us so unique and special.