Meet Judi Henderson-Townsend, the founder and CEO of Mannequin Madness, a Black-owned business that generates millions of dollars selling and renting recycled mannequins. She started the company in 2001 as a side hustle renting out mannequins from her backyard, but now it’s a global enterprise with millions of dollars in annual sales.
Judi has a team of employees and contractors that work in her Oakland, California-based factory, and her business is so successful now that people in the industry refer to her as “The Mannequin Queen”.
Judi, who has a degree in journalism from the University of Southern California and 20+ years of experience working at Fortune 500 companies, says that she never thought she’d be an entrepreneur selling mannequins. She got into the business after meeting the owner of the only mannequin rental company in the Bay Area at the time and learning that he was leaving town. She ended up buying all of his inventory and the rest is history.
“My clients include everybody from struggling fashion students to high-end department stores,” she said during an interview on Curious Business. “I’m the Jay-Z of Mannequins.”
Over the past 20 years, she estimates that her company has recycled more than 400,000 pounds of mannequins. Because of this, her company has won various prestigious awards such as the Special Achievement Award from the Environmental Protection Agency and the Living History Maker Award from Wells Fargo Bank.