Out Of My Mind On A Wednesday Mornin’

August 27th, 2014

Would you spend $50 for a bottle of nail polish

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One of my favorite readers reminded me that I haven’t blogged this month and that would be the first time since blogs were created. OMG, with that I wondered what happened to August, what happened to summer (that never came) and are those yellow busses actually back on the road. Actually this has been a busy month celebrating BUB’s birthday, plus a trade show and finalizing plans for 2015. YIKES, 2015 is around the corner.

Speaking of birthday’s, the one and only Tony Cuccio just celebrated his 60th. I remember seeing his photo when he was 18 selling nail polish on Venice Beach. Happy Birthday Tony!

We spent a few days in Seattle and one must do the Pike Street market. It truly lives up to its reputation. If you love fresh seafood and fish, this place is for you. Two pound lobster tails galore, quarter pound prawns and hundreds and hundreds of pounds of wild salmon and halibut. They sell more than 5000 bouquets of flowers a day at $5 to $10 a pop. Seafood chowder is among the specialty things to eat and is quite good. It is also the home of the original Starbuck’s. We waited in line for 30 minutes just to get to the front of the store and then decided to bale. Starbucks is everywhere in Seattle but I thought Tully coffee was even better.

black 15in1 Miracle Hair Treatment won Good Housekeeping’s Hair Award for best frizz and shine product.

Just completed my annual physical. The doctor asked his usual 50 questions like “Do you have this or do you experience this,” and I thought and figured out that eventually I will be answering yes to those questions. YIKES!

Michigan State is the team to beat this year. Now that we won the Rose Bowl last year, can we match up to the hype this year? Season starts Friday night.

OK, I know the bacon craze is alive and well, but does America really need this???

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Here is a startling statistic for you. In the U.S., there are more than 1.3 million licensed hair and nail professionals. 92% work independently. The study put out by the PBA claims there are only 92,000 or so salons that employ full time employees (more than one). Average hours worked is less than 30 per week.

OPI is launching its new7-10 day nail lacquer later this year and THE INDUSTRY SOURCE will be pioneers in launching the line. Stay tuned as this is OPI’s first innovation since they were acquired by Coty and it promises to be a huge launch. Unlike CND’s Vinylux, this system requires both a special base and top coat. 30 shades at launch. Stay tuned!

How can I not share this with you: Inside the original Nordstrom’s we came across this display:

Yep, the famous shoe designer, Christian Louboutin, came out with his signature red in a nail polish (far right). Price: $50. Demand was so high and it sold out so fast that the company fast tracked the collection and added another 30 shades that launches this week.

Or if you prefer you can pick up a pair of these instead for only $1095.

Happy Wednesday!

Out Of My Mind On A Friday Mornin’

July 25th, 2014

Are you going or have you gone to a live concert this year?

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Jimmy is back at Comerica tomorrow night! Rain is in the forecast but it has never rained in all the years on Jimmy’s party. And for those out of touch with really good music, I’m referring to Jimmy Buffett.

The beauty business is soft but the spa business is booming thanks to huge demand for massage services. One thing consumers have learned long ago is that they can buy hair color and nail polish at mass stores and attempt to do it at home but they have yet to figure out how to give themselves a back massage. J W Marriott is launching their new spas (long overdue) to take advantage of the boom. Their new concept is quite cute: Quickie treatments ranging from 10 to 25 minutes. They identified four categories their customers will be interested in: Calm; Indulge; Invigorate and Renew. Funny thing is Biotone has figured this out too when they launched their new Aromatherapy massage lotions. All are available at THE INDUSTRY SOURCE. What ‘s good for J W may be good for other spas as well. The express spa idea is a good one.

Aromatherapy Massage Lotion Calming GallonAromatherapy Massage Lotion Renewal GallonAromatherapy Massage Lotion Energy GallonAromatherapy Massage Lotion Bliss Gallon

Speaking of good ideas, OPI is launching a new line of polish late fall. It features new technology and will be a boom to salons and spas much like gel polish was. We will be on the forefront of this major launch and it will continue the excitement of the nail polish category. Get your sunglasses ready!

Cosmoprof Las Vegas was a true disappointment for many. In fact the soccer match on Sunday proved to be the highlight of the show. Way too many booths and way not enough buyers on the floor. I was appalled to see salons and spas walking the floor and once again, they didn’t even know it was a trade event for manufacturers, retailers and distributors. Next year’s event will be truly interesting with retail being the new focus.

The wait is finally over! Little Diva, Diva and Lil’ Darling Pedi Packs are finally in stock. The first ever products targeted for girls and spa parties, the kits have been wildly popular since being introduced. The matching robes and wraps should be in stock next week.

Little Diva Pedi-PackDiva Pedi-PackL’il Darling Pedi-Pack

It’s already the last week of July with August right around the corner. Where is summer going?

Have you seen the new Walgreen’s flagship stores yet? You walk in and you cannot believe it is a drugstore. Perhaps that because the new stores are not drugstores. You walk in and are instantly greeted and asked where you want to go or what are you looking for. The floors are wood and has the feel of a high end department store. The beauty section has consultants to answer questions and everything is merchandised perfectly. Yes, they sell plenty of prescription drugs but for all other goods, they are in abundance. The price of competition just went up. The only thing I was surprised about: They don’t have pop-up salon services. . .yet.

Desperate times at Sally Beauty Company? They have been running 20% to 25% storewide promotions on everything online for the past few weeks. They have never advertised so heavily and at such deep discounts.

Exciting news coming from black 15in1 but not until August 12. However a sneak preview is that black 15in1 Miracle Hair Treatment won a major award.

Product Details

And I will leave you with one of my all time favorite Jimmy songs, One Particular Harbor. Enjoy!

Happy Friday!

Cosmoprof North America Changes Format- Retailers Come Join The Party!

July 10th, 2014

Are you loving the new self-serve yogurt shops?

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This weekend is the 15th Cosmoprof N.A. show in Vegas. Diehards still call it the BBSI back in the days when new products were introduced and companies tossed extravagant parties morning, day and night.

The show has always been a marketplace for manufacturers to show off their latest offerings to distributors.  But alas two things have happened over the past few years. One, manufacturers have fewer new products to offer and two, there are hardly any distributors left to walk the aisles. Last year was a tipping point with more booths for Asian companies than ever which left many wondering what would be next.

As a “reinvention”, Cosmoprof is tossing out the old layout of the show floor and has created a new layout for 2015. Now there will be only three sections. One for companies focused on professional goods for hair, nails and skin. One for companies that produce machinery, packaging and other raw materials. And finally the third one: For companies that sell goods for retail. Bye-bye distributors, hello retailers.

Now for those in the know, and retailers are certainly more in the know than most, there already are plenty of events and shows for them to attend that sell beauty products. But since Cosmoprof needs more traffic to sell booth space, it had to do something to get more people walking the aisles.

And since Cosmoprof is connected with PBA (Professional Beauty Association), this is the final leg of the conversion of our industry. Most likely, the PBA will need to rename itself to PRBA (Professional and Retail Beauty Association).

What this means for companies that sell both professional-only AND retail products, I have no idea. Since the show floor is small and contained in one room, most likely established companies such as Helen of Troy will claim their old space and be open for business regardless who walks by just as they have done all along. But it will be interesting to see what happens.

The other question of course is what new companies will buy booths for the retail area. Just think of all the companies that supply Sephora and Ulta.

Alas, it anything truly professional anymore? Every brand is sold at Amazon and numerous brands are sold at Sephora and Ulta. They are true merchants. Mass drug retailers are expanding their beauty footprints as well.

Time will tell the future as it always does. For now, Cosmoprof 2015 will be yet another watershed event for professional beauty as we once knew it when it was BBSI.

On a side note it will be very strange indeed to walk into the OPI meeting room without George, Bill or Suzi’s presence. I wonder if they will still have the expresso counter. Life moves forward.

Happy Thursday!

The Death of Makeup Artists?

June 19th, 2014

Where do you buy your makeup?

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“From trying out Eva Longoria’s smoky eye or Liya Kebede’s nude lip to testing out one of the many trend-driven looks created by the L’Oreal Paris’ Celebrity Makeup Artist Billy B., women can have fun experimenting with a variety of looks. “With this app, women don’t need a professional makeup artist because they can become their own makeup designer,” says Billy B. “It was so much fun creating the different looks and after months of working on this app, I am so excited it’s now available for everyone to play with and experience.”” I can see it now, instead of bridal makeup parties, all the brides maids will be using their iPhones to do their makeup.

The above coming from L’Oreal’s own press release yesterday states the obvious: L’Oreal has the ability to create innovative products and take market share from those competitors that don’t. With its leading brands Maybelline at mass stores and Lancome at department stores, L’Oreal spends more money advertising each year than on the cost of its products. If you can believe, some 30% of total sales is spent on advertising. This new technology will allow L’Oreal to take better advantage of its advertising spend.

What is so clever about this (and I have yet to try it out although I am sure the Manicure Genius is not far away) is that they let Apple spend billions on technology and then borrow it literally for free through its APP. Using the front of the iPhone and the built-in camera made this all possible.

So forget about Selfies, that is yesterday’s stuff. Now women can spend hours looking at their iPhones and imagining the different makeup looks they can have which is literally thousands.

Description

Forget everything you know about the makeup apps you’ve seen before…
L’Oréal Paris introduces the 1st virtual makeup tester. Try makeup looks and products on yourself and see them move with you in real time. This exclusive technology from major Hollywood studios has never been seen before in the world of beauty. Create your own or try ready-to-wear looks curated by makeup artists instantly. See yourself made up in just one click. Virtual makeup try-on has never been more real.
Your smartphone becomes your mirror…
…and your next must have beauty accessory

iPhone Screenshot 1

iPhone Screenshot 2

iPhone Screenshot 3

Makeup Genius

According to L’Oreal the technology they developed goes like this: “Makeup Genius uses a highly-advanced facial mapping algorithm that allows women to try on eye shadow, eyeliners, lip colors and blushes and play with different looks, all in real time. Makeup Genius captures 64 facial data points and 100 different facial expressions, making it intuitive enough to discern between the skin of the lips, eyes and other facial contours, allowing the virtual makeup to move with you as you turn your head, change your facial expression and test out new looks at various angles and lighting conditions. The app also works in more than 400 different lighting conditions and takes into account all ethnicities to ensure the resolution and performance of the makeup including texture, finish and color are all accurate. “

If this isn’t enough to get your makeup on, on the same day they announced the acquisition of NYX cosmetics. And coincidentally they also announced that for the first time in America sales are flat. So they desperately trying to build sales doing whatever it takes.

One thing they are no longer talking about is Essie gels. Not only were they late to the game but the price point is prohibitive and they didn’t match the names to the polish. Sales are awful. Unlike OPI who continues to rock this category, it would be nice to see not only an APP but a concerted effort in the professional category to reignite the brand.

In the meantime, the Makeup Genius APP is now available on iTunes but sorry Android users, you will have to wait.

Happy Thursday!

Premier Orlando Show Hits Rock Bottom

June 5th, 2014

What is your favorite DQ treat?

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[Reader’s Note: Mr. Smith is a new executive at a global beauty company who is visiting the Premier trade show to get a take on the professional beauty industry]

 

I have been with ABC Beauty Company for two months and just checked into the Orlando Hilton for the Premier Beauty show which I heard so much about. I brought along two colleagues. Our first stop was the lounge in which I heard so much activity at theses shows took place at the bars. Alas, the bar is less than half full and it doesn’t look like a lot of hairdressers are around. And this is Saturday night. Dinner at Capital Grille was interesting to say the least. I was told I would be lucky to get a reservation but the place was not even half filled. I guess all the people that used to dine here sold out.

Sunday, the first big day of the show I am so excited to see what the industry is all about. I walk in at 9:00AM and the first thing I notice is the loud music like I am at a concert. I see two guys on stage sporting Mohawk hair cuts and tat sleeves yelling into their microphones with a couple models in front of them. But there are only 4 people in the audience. In fact, I notice that all the stages have the same types of guys on them doing the same types of things.

Then as I am walking down an aisle, I see three “freaks” in stilts just like in the circus. Curiously I watch to see why they are there and then I see some of the attendees actually take their pictures with them.

Unfortunately after that I was walking down the wrong aisle as I almost got trampled with all the people running with their suitcases to the back of the show. Why would people have suitcases with them, but wait, some have janitor carts on wheels. Holy Toledo, I am almost run over by an electric cart with a suitcase in tow. I finally step out of the way and follow the crowd to see what all the excitement is about. Looks like one of the customers we sell to, Cosmoprof, is having a closeout sale. I count 40 registers. There is even two people swinging shopping baskets at the people to grab one. People are rushing through the aisles like the products will disappear if they don’t hurry. But then I see people paying and running to the other side of the show floor.

So again I follow the crowd being careful not to be run over but it helps I don’t have a suitcase. Same scenario but not a customer of ours, Salon Centric, has the same flea market deals and swinging baskets and rush of people. I have never seen anything like this in my life.

I’m now back to walking the show floor and seeing what our competitors are doing. The entire show floor is filled with women (the only guys around  are on stage) and I’m thinking I must be at a women’s expo and not a pro beauty show. But alas I see signs all over that I am in the right place. One booth is selling real Indian hair and it looks like it came off the streets. Another booth is selling costume jewelry for $1.00 and up. People are lined up for nachos and pretzels in the food area. Somewhere there has to be some hair booths.

I finally come across the Wella booth and truthfully, it’s more of a show within the show than a booth. Very impressive to say the least but looks like they don’t allow roller bags or janitor carts since there isn’t a single customer to be found. I’m sure Wella isn’t selling Koleston for $1 a tube, but looking around, it might not be a bad idea.

There is the TIGI booth and I am reading on it, “Hair products for professionals designed by professionals” and signed by Anthony Mascola. Of course he sold out to Unilever and they opened Sally in January among others. I wonder what that means.

Matrix and Redken did an OK job but I can’t find Pureology, L’Oreal Professionnel, Kerastase or any of the other L’Oreal brands including Essie.

I bump into Vince Davis who I was told was formerly with TIGI. Now he is with Macadamia Nut but they don’t have a booth. I wonder what he was doing there but I have more pressing things to do than think about that.

I also see Paul Sharnsky and I think he is seeing who is doing more business, the Matrix/Redken booth or the flea market. I think he is scratching his head since he doesn’t like the answer.

The crowd is picking up and now I see people dragging their roller bags with multiple empty shopping bags that booths are passing out. Why are people carrying them? Some bags are so big I wonder how anyone could carry them if they were used. I’m going to make a recommend to management that we invest in really big bags.

Oh, there is Mike Nave, another person I was told about. He is about as old as the industry and still writes about it. I look forward to his write-up about this show. I want to yell to Mike to “watch out, the stilt people are right behind you!” He is looking good in his 32 waist but I’m not even sure why I know that.

By now the music is so loud I need to go outside to clear my head. But the number of people smoking has me gagging so it’s back inside.

Actually I’m going to call it a day. I have been to more than 100 shows in my life and I have never witnessed anything like this one. It’s a damn good thing my company didn’t take a booth. I might as well get one of those pretzels.

Out Of My Mind On A Friday Mornin’

May 30th, 2014

What is your favorite salty snack?

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The “Don” is selling his team that he paid $13M for $2B, yes, that is $2 billion. Capital gains tax alone is $400,000 which brings him a net of $1.6B. So Sterling is being clipped for $400,000 and netting $1.6B. So everyone is saying that he opened his mouth and made out like a bandit. But if you look beyond the basics, Sterling was already a billionaire and did not need another $1.6B in his bank account. He no longer has ownership of one of the most fun things in his life. Why would Steve Ballmer pay such a price? So he can enjoy the perks of ownership. He knows he is only on this planet for a short while and he has the money to do so.

I guess that makes the price of OPI going from $9.00 retail to $9.50 retail July 1 incidental. Even at $9.50, it’s still a bargain and no company has been more innovative with collections than OPI. The Coke collection has already sold out and we had to reorder. It must have been the fries that we included as a GWP.

On the same subject, Metro Airport just raised the price of parking from $20 to $21. How many $1 a day does that equal? Lots. And watch Starbuck’s raise their prices July with coffee prices surging.

Have you bought a lime lately? Limes cost more than Tequila. Ouch!

This weekend it’s the Dragon Boat Festival and Happy Children’s Day in China. I will say for a communist country that has now become the world’s largest economy, they sure know how to celebrate holidays.

This past Memorial Day weekend was the best weather ever recorded in the Midwest. Ultra amazing.

This weekend is the Premier Show in Orlando. It will be very interesting to see the people walking the floor and what their focus is on. The industry has been in a funk and I look forward to seeing what’s new and different. I will tell you that our booth will feature plenty of new and different stuff.

Word on the street is that Living Proof is going to salons. The blur between professional and retail continues. Jay Morris knows a thing or two about distribution with his  years at American Crew.

Has any hair appliance zoomed up and zoomed down as fast as the Babyliss MiraCurl?

Have you checked out the new JACKED versions of Dorito’s? You really have to give credit to PepsiCo for their continued innovation in selling salty, fatty and tasty snack foods. And what is better than a bag of Nacho Cheese Doritos? Sun Chips are pretty good too.

Speaking of damn good food bad for you, have you tried Talenti’s Sea Salt Caramel Gelato? I was paying $6.99 a glass jar for it at specialty markets and now Kroger has it for $4.69. Check it out, the coconut one is pretty good too.

Happy Friday!

Another Industry Legend Retires- Gary Winterhalter

May 14th, 2014

Will you buy a Keurig machine for Coke products?

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After more than 27 years with Sally Beauty, a.k.a. Sally Beauty Holdings (SBH), Gary is hanging it up within the year to enjoy life. As the CEO, President and Chairman of the Board, one can only wonder the responsibilities Gary has had to tackle including those dreaded quarterly conference calls in which analysts ask questions they shouldn’t be asking.

I’ve had lunch with Gary and he has always been an affable type of guy that enjoyed running the business. Although SBH is one of our biggest competitors, Gary always had the vision that the beauty business is like all others and the bottom line is the most important. It’s all about numbers and basis points.

From a 30,000 foot view, this is the perfect time for Gary to exit. He already oversaw the acquisitions of many independent distributors to create Beauty Systems Group and Cosmoprof, now with more than 1000 stores and nearly as many DSC’s. Sally itself has ventured overseas but its been the USA business that has kept the machine running. With the low hanging fruit wiped out, the next CEO is going to have to spend his life in airplanes to grow the business. And I am certain that is not Gary’s desire.

With Gary’s announcement of retirement, he also announced his successor, Christian Brinkman. What is telling about this hire is that Brinkman is from outside the industry and was most recently a VP at Kimberly Clark (known for Huggies and Kleenex) on the international side. No doubt his hire was to grow the Sally business overseas. The press release stated that Gary would “train” Brinkman for up to one year. For sure Brinkman will need to learn the difference between nail polish and gel polish which could take at least a couple months. My biggest take-away from this hire is that Sally no longer needs a merchant to run its business, the days of merchants are over (and that is another commentary), and the focus must be on new growth. And the only place to grow is international.

Love him or hate him, Winterhalter and before him, Michael Renzulli (photo below in 1972), got their nails dirty in the business.

On one hand, I am thrilled for Gary to leave on a high note. On the other hand, it’s another tipping point for the pro beauty industry as the industry continues to evolve into the retail community. For us, it’s good news because no matter how much Winterhalter mentors Brinkman, Brinkman’s focus will never replace Winterhalter’s. Looking forward, salon professionals top 3 choices for buying products include:

  • SBH focused on international expansion and run by an ex-Kimberly Clark VP
  • L’Oreal (owns Salon Centric, Kerastase, Maybelline and a slew of brands), a $28 billion French empire
  • THE INDUSTRY SOURCE, independent and family owned since 1985 still focused on the customer and being a merchant.

So long Gary and enjoy retirement (although you still have a few more years to offer your valued insight). Perhaps you can have lunch with George, Bill, Max, Essie and a few others one day. I wonder who would buy.

Happy Wednesday!

Out Of My Mind On a Friday Mornin’

April 25th, 2014

Are you concerned with the Ukraine situation?

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Leave it to the masters at L’Oreal to once again disrupt the market with yet another innovative product and this time, it spells more bad news for the pro salon industry. What is most interesting is that L’Oreal has a pretty big stake in the pro industry with its MATRIX, Redken, L’Oreal Professionnel, Pureology, Kerastase and other brands. Their newest product, Preference Mousse Absolue took more than 10 years to develop and it is the first hair color that mixes the color with the developer. The specially designed can does the work and the color comes out like a mousse. More amazing, the color leftover can be stored in the can for up to a year for touch-ups and even a second color. It sells for $14.99 at all mass retailers and available in 16 shades. This is a true game-changer and I see this technology being used in the pro industry for booth renters who don’t have a lot of storage area and hate mixing color.

 

Because You’re Worth It: L’Oréal Paris Offers New Instant Hair Color Activation

Loxabeauty.com is alive and well. So just for s___s and giggles, I reviewed three best-selling items from the site and then compared pricing to Amazon.com. In all instances, Amazon was a minimum 30% lower. But wait, loxabeauty.com customers pay shipping and sales tax. So the savings are more than 40%. And supposedly Salon Centric is going to come out with own their site to compete? Ulta is laughing all the way to the bank as most of the vendors who sell Sally Beauty Holdings also sell to Ulta.

Do you remember the early McDonald’s commercials in which they advertised fountain Coke with their cheeseburger? Back in the day, everything went well with a Coke. Fast forward to 2014 and what goes best with a Coke? A bottle of OPI nail lacquer. Coke and OPI partnered up to introduce a special collection. The signature color is Coca-Cola Red (#613228). Look for the collection in June and we start taking orders May 1 (18-pc collections $79.95, #613224).

Isn’t it amazing how when gas was $3.00 a gallon, media was all over it and consumers were incensed. Now with gas at $4.00 a gallon, you don’t hear a peep. That is how we get conditioned to higher prices.

Speaking of higher prices, those famous Chipolte burritos will be 4% higher. First increase in 3 years. The California drought is getting so bad, prices on many veggies are going up and up.

Is Spring and warm weather ever going to come?

The Ukraine Minister today in USA Today came out and stated that Russia wants to start World War III.  If you read your history books on previous World War’s, you know the world is not ready, nor will ever be ready for another one. Is there ever going to be a time in which we can all live without war?

What’s worse than being behind a slow driver and then finally getting the opportunity to pass the driver and look over and see the driver is either on the phone or eating something?

Happy Friday!

Out Of My Mind On A Monday Mornin’

April 14th, 2014

What brand of boxed chocolate do you typically eat?

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Just when you think the nail industry can’t get any thinner on talent, two seasoned veterans are out. Combined, nearly 30 years of experience, both were with industry leaders who saw the changes take place with their very eyes. Their replacements? General managers and those with experience in the hair business. If anyone thinks that the two industries are even close to being the same, guess again. Campgrounds and Four Seasons are both places for people to sleep overnight but that is about it for similarities. Public companies view from 30,000 feet is one thing, having those in the weeds is another.

Coldwater Creek is no more. How the cataloguer opened more than 300 stores is an amazing story but alas, who shops in stores anymore?

Luxury retail on the other hand can’t be bothered with selling online and for the most part sells exclusively in their stores. How is it luxury can get away with it but mass retailers can’t?

Are you buying the Amazon Fire TV box? Leave it to Amazon to make it easier and easier to buy online. And why not toss in some entertainment and popcorn too?

If life is a box of chocolates, when was the last time you indulged and opened a box and started to dig in? The crèmes are the worst. Long ago when I did indulge, I only took quarter bites.

Google is testing in key cities building its own fiber network for internet connectivity to its Google Glasses. It wants people to be able to wear the glasses and use them anywhere and at anytime. If Google owns internet connections, what is left to stop it from owning the planet?

Are all baseball teams mediocre this year or what? Someone told me that Cabrera gets $42,000 for each at bat. Now we know why hot dogs are $6 bucks a pop.

New mortgages hit the lowest level in 17 years.

Uber which has infuriated the taxi and private driver industry is now ready to tackle the courier business. Testing now in NYC, Uber guarantees one hour or less delivery of any package. Since when did the speed of business come down to an hour or less?

HBO’s new hit, Silicon Valley, is a hoot and worth watching. The series premier featured Kid Rock live on stage at a company event and the techies were so not into him.

Happy Easter and Passover!

A Walk Down Memory Lane When Innovation Mattered

April 2nd, 2014

What percent of photos that you take do you print?

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It’s a sad state of affairs when innovation in our industry has been left to a new flavor of lotion or brush color. After reviewing the product selection for our THE BEAUTY BOOK Fall edition, it is apparent that most companies are sticking with their tried and true products and not investing in the next “AH-HA” product. Without new and different, there is nothing to get consumers excited about buying, so products become more and more commoditized and discounted.

Now back to memory lane, the year can be anytime between 1989 to 1995. This was when the industry trade show for distributors was called the BBSI (Barber Beauty Supply Institute) and the show was held each year in Las Vegas in the summer and a resort city in January such as San Diego and Orlando. These were the days when innovation was king and start up manufacturers flourished with new ideas, new concepts and new dreams. Most of the memories are still alive but alas, the companies long gone. Let’s take a stroll down a few of the aisles at one of the BBSI shows.

There’s Marlene Sortino [Italian Jewelry] introducing her new gold fingernails and dangling charms. Each charm is handmade and over 200 designs. The nail drill to make the hole in the nail is a huge hit.

Right across the aisle is Katia (Kami Nail Designs]. Everyone of her fingernails are long and decorated with rhinestones, striping tape and the newest sensation, snakeskin. Snakeskin is applied with glue and comes in 6 colors. Demand is high.

Tony Cuccio [Star Nail] is walking by his booth donning his dark sunglasses and black hair (which is long gone). The booth is nothing more than a couple tables and banner filled with cheap polish, files, block buffers and generic nail glue. But he is busy making deals.

Jan and Jim Nordstrom [Creative Nail Design] have a private room and excited to feature Solar Nail, Solar Beam and Solar Oil. Acrylics are hot and they have the best acrylics. Solar Beam was the first gel light but the design was flawed and had to be dropped. But it was a way cool concept. They are getting ready for their really big distributor party at the Hilton later that night featuring live music, great decorations, open bar and plenty of awards.

George and Myriam Schaeffer [OPI] have the large booth at the end of the aisle and they are launching their new polish line called Lacquer. It’s higher priced than the competition and going to be advertised in consumer magazines. George is so excited about this that even his suspenders are made of nail polish bottles. Myriam is showing off fine jewelry for loyal distributors to partake in. The booth is packed. George is quoted in NAILS magazine:

“Ours is the old style,” mused George. “It is a business philosophy of loyalty to the little guy, to those who got us started. This is the whole gist,” he added, “giving them extra, the best possible product attainable. Our first consideration is the product—the profit will come if the product is right.

“Don’t get me wrong,” George adds quickly, with a sheepish grin, “we like a little profit.”

Lorenzo Meija [IBD]is donned in his fashionable Italian suit perfect from the dry cleaner. He is excited to show off his new Soft Gel collection, the first gels to cure under a UV light. 5 Second Nail Glue is already a household name. Quoting Meija in the 1991 issue of NAILS:

“According to Lorenzo Mejia of International Beauty Design Inc., gel services are the fastest growing segment of the professional market today.

The natural look of gel nails is a major selling point with clients. In addition, the virtual lack of odor makes gels a popular service in full service beauty salons, where hair oriented salon professionals have for years used the odor complaint to relegate nail technicians to the back of the salon, or even keep them completely out of the salon.” OK, so 20 years earlier gel polish could have been invented.

Jack Sperling [Alpha 9]can be found in another aisle making practical jokes on everyone and having the best laugh as he sells his powder and liquid at outrageously high prices and gets away with it. No one had more fun in the business than Jack. This show he is proud of his new 4-Way nail file.

Vern and Lynn Rae [San Francisco Nails] have one of the hottest booths in the show. Airbrush nail art is ultra hot and everyone wants it. Machines, paints and stencils are on fire.

Ben Edwards [Design Classic] is a true entrepreneur and is showing off his latest creation: Fiberglass for nails. Wraps are getting bigger as fiberglass overtakes silk and linen as the preferred choice for nail techs.

Essie and Max [Essie] also have tables and a banner sporting Essie nail polish in over 100 colors. The big news at this show is that the polish went from $1.00 a bottle to $1.25 a bottle and the new seasonal collections are going to be introduced every quarter. We were not sure if manicurists would pay another quarter for a bottle of polish. Max was very busy behind the booth bullshitting about “nothing but nothing.”

Kirk Hamilton [Menda] was behind the innovation at Menda, or at least he represented the line well. Menda was introducing a new dispenser bottle that actually kept the acrylic powder from entering the bottle. Ingenious. However the plastic bottles remain their mainstay.

Calvert Billings [Calvert International] invented the first nail polish dryer using of all things, light bulbs. Really? I ordered 144 and had to reorder many times. He later invented something called the Laquer Whacker. Actually I am thinking of that for gel nail removal.

Dal LaMagna [Tweezerman] made the tweezer famous and could be found at the booth plucking eye brows while talking politics. Can you imagine if he was around at the time of computers he could have invented Facebook.

You get the picture. Back then business was fun, innovative and full of excitement. Our industry needs to return to this before it is entirely assimilated into retail beauty and all beauty becomes one. Or as I have said earlier, perhaps it is already there.

Happy Wednesday!


CND Shellac Summer Splash Collection