University of Arkansas

Walton College

The Sam M. Walton College of Business

Thelma L. Joshua and the late Ernest P. "Josh" Joshua, Sr.


Thelma L. Joshua and the late Ernest P. "Josh" Joshua, Sr.

Ernest P. Joshua, Sr. (1928-2005)
J.M. Products Inc.
Little Rock, Arkansas


Thelma L. Joshua and the late Ernest P. "Josh" Joshua, Sr., founded one of the largest manufacturers of ethnic hair care products in the United States. J.M. Products is also the largest African American-owned company in the State of Arkansas. The Joshuas overcame many challenges to create an international business, distributing their products through the world's largest retail organizations.

Both Arkansans by birth, Ernest and Thelma married in 1949 and moved to Chicago. Realizing an untapped market for ethnic hair care products, Ernest got a business degree from Cortez Peters Business College and took chemistry courses at the University of Chicago. The family moved to California where they started J.M. Products. In the mid 70s, they returned to Arkansas where J.M. Products took off. Manufacturing facilities are now located in Little Rock and North Little Rock with joint venture operations in Jamaica and Africa.

The Joshuas were the first Arkansas people to be honored at the White House by Ronald Reagan for their achievements as small business people. Bill Clinton invited Ernest to participate in the first ever U.S. Trade Mission to South Africa in 1994. Ernest and Thelma have worked tirelessly to create opportunities for other African Americans through their community contributions and involvement.


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