Tuesday, May 24, 2011

PR Firms

I have been at Mirabella for 14 months.  It has been quite the journey.  At first we needed to simply ship our orders to our distributors accurately and completely.  Within 90 days the team was on it!  We have had only a couple of backorders at a time since this past summer.  Great!  But that doesn't grow sales, it just maintains sales.

We were losing money, lots of it!  So quickly we found all the things we could reduce or stop while still building a high end prestige color cosmetic brand.  So now a year later, we are profitable!

But the most important thing in any organization is people.  Passionate, hard working, intelligent people who have a desire to grow.  We now have that group of people.  I have promoted a part time educator who has been with us for 3 years to a Regional Manager position (Rodyan Quinonez).  We have promoted a Regional Manager to National Sales Manager (Jennifer Rider).  We promoted our customer service person to Operations Manager (Sarah Terpstra).

To me that is a sign of a healthy organization, promoting from within.  That is not always possible, but thankfully we were able to do it here!

We hired Bryan Biggers as our Social Media Manager.  He has helped us get up and running on You Tube, Facebook, Twitter and our ecommerce efforts.

 But when Amber Bowen, our Creative Director, and I were talking about the future of Mirabella, it became obvious that something was missing.  We had a great story.  We had awesome products.  We had exciting launches.  But no one knew us outside of the salon world.  Consumers are walking into salons and are being introduced to the line.  But it would be even better if they walked in and were already familiar with the line.

So that is exactly what we plan to do.  I called out to some of my friends that own or run brands like Karl-Heinz Pitsh at Sexy Hair, Steve Goddard at Pravana, George Shaeffer at OPI, Colin Walsh at Matrix, and many others.  They generously gave me names of firms they knew and respected like Lane PR, Pierce Mattie, Bratskeir & Co., Shop PR, Creative Media Marketing, Siren PR, and others.

Each firm offered something unique.  The owners of some of the firms were amazing, but would you actually ever see them?  They had done some great work with some brands like ours, but was it the brand or the firm?  They had amazing tools to track your success, but does that translate into sales for us?

So today, we have not yet chosen our partner, but we hope to very soon.  What an exciting journey!

CB Sullivan Trade Show- We rocked!!!

Fly to Boston... go downtown to the North End and have amazing Italian food!  Take a cab to Marlborough, Mass for the CB Sullivan Trade Show.  They had not done a trade show in 3 years, but they did not forget how!  They attracted 6,000 stylists and students to this fun, high energy event.

Andrew Maly passing out beach bags!
I brought my son Andrew to do some of the heavy lifting... we gave out 3,000 beach bags to the attendees to attract interest in our booth.   And boy did it!  We were swamped all weekend.  Though we brought a good sized team of high caliber Make Up Artists, it was not enough.  When clients saw the booth, they came in and wanted to buy!

Our amazing team of Mirabella Make Up Artists

Last year I went to our trade show in New Jersey with Emiliani.  We looked so awful I was embarrassed.  That is why over the past year we have tried to significantly improve our trade show image.  We bought a big back drop wall with our name and interchangeable images to correspond to the seasonal launches.   We made pedestals that we could display product and store it as well.

But the biggest change was our open sale units.  We really believe that we need to help lead the salons and spas.  They are challenged at selling Make Up, though it seems like a natural for salons.  So we are testing at shows, then at distributor stores, and then finally in high volume salons this open sale unit.

I think she will buy it, how about you?
So at the shows we now have every item we sell to try... and buy!  And so far, our clients LOVE it!  We have some things we are going to change from these prototypes, but we definitely think this investment will pay!
Mirabella open sale format

When Sephora came to the US, prestige cosmetics were sold in department stores.  If you wanted to buy, you needed to talk to someone.  The thought was that a woman needed assistance to pick out the right products for herself.

Well, Sephora completely changed the game!  Now stores like Sephora and Ulta represent a large percentage of all prestige color cosmetic sales.  Woman love choosing what they want. 

We are hoping to test this concept in distributor stores starting in the fall.

Back to the show...

Our ladies like to have fun!
So on Sunday night, CB Sullivan held a party for its guests.  Can you guess the theme?

The show was a great success for us.  New England had been launched a few years ago.  And many of these salons did not know all the exciting changes that Mirabella has undergone.  So this was an excellent way to re-excite our current clients plus attract a whole new audience!  Thanks CB Sullivan team for all your support.
Another happy Mirabella client!

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Debut with RDA in Austin, TX

 Clients loved our booth!!!
It was so fun passing out Mirabella beach bags at the RDA show in Austin.  The hair stylists, owners, and make up artists loved us.  We were busy at the booth like this all weekend!

Our brand has grown throughout the country over the past 8 years.  So usually when we go to a trade show like this, people already know us and love us!  But in this case, people were so excited to see a mineral make up line that has such fashion forward products!

Ashlee Erickson with fellow Regional Manager Lydie Bullock
Our famous Ashlee Erickson, Make Up Artist extraordinaire and Regional Manager put the whole thing together.  It was so funny, everyone loves that girl.  She says "They all want some Ash-Aid!" 

Many of the RDA stores have yet to try Mirabella, though they can carry it.  They were worried it wouldn't sell.  After the show another few stores decided to take on the line after seeing the excitement we create!

Rodyan Quinonez, Regional Manager and Make Up Artist
The most gratifying part of owning a brand like Mirabella is when you get to see clients actually interact with the product the first time.  So our Make Up artists were doing mini make overs all weekend long.  And when the clients got out of the chair, they were blown away at how beautiful we had made them look!

The clients would immediately go to our full open sale (like you would see at Sephora) and pick out exactly what we had recommended!  And because we were trying to really have them fall in love with us, we gave them lots of free stuff for buying almost everything!  They got a free mini mascara for stopping by.  They got some of our Shimmerati collection from the holidays for lip purchases.  And they got one of our top products, Prime by buying some foundation products!

Yeah, we spoiled them!


Vigo, Spain
Stephanie Johnson, Amber Bowen (Mirabella's Creative Director), and myself went to Vigo, Spain to see our distributor. 

First, Vigo is located in the Northwest corner of Spain, in a province called Galicia.  Did you know that every province teaches their school children it's language.  Every province speaks it's own language!  Plus they speak Spanish! 
Front of Jorge Rubin in Vigo, Spain

Anyhow, Icon picked us up and showed us a couple of their own salons called Jorge Rubin.  They are very high end, well run salons.  They have used their successful salons to teach other salons how to be successful using their model.  They sell their own brand called Icon.  They were the Sebastian distributor until Wella went direct in Europe.

They have 550 salons that run their businesses like they do.  The salons are departmental.  Each client is seen by different people for different services, allowing each service provider to be an expert in their area.
Mirabella Pro Box for doing quick touch ups in the Salon

And they touch every client every visit with Mirabella!  In the center of the salon they have our Pro Box which the stylists grab a couple of products to freshen up their client before sending them home.  And because they do, they sell a ton of cosmetics.

The other amazing thing the salon does is all focus on one aspect of the face.  So in the first salon, they were all wearing the same bright red lipstick.  It made quite an impact!  The next salon was focused on eye colour.
Amber showing them how to keep the Tester Unit looking brand New

We left Amber at the key salon.  She spent the afternoon teaching the team how to keep the tester unit looking brand new!  She also gave them some hints about some of the products like Prime.  They were having a tough time selling 4 eye colours to a client.  She showed them how to blend them to make an even more beautiful look.  They now understand!

Stephanie and I where shown their warehouse and offices.  They showed us a new prototype station display they are building.  We loved it and are going to replicate it for the US market.  They also showed us their table they sell to salons to display the product.  Again, we are going to replicate that as well.
The Best Sole Ever!!!

They treated us to a traditional Spanish lunch.  It was later in the afternoon and more like dinner, which is how they do it.  Amazing seafood in that they are right on the Atlantic ocean.  Pretty funny, Stephanie had tail!  They have a fish there that is head and tail, no body.  The tail was huge like the size of a medium sized dog!  I had Sole, the whole thing!

That night we went to a late dinner.  Eating outside, the proprietor came out and stirred a trash can.  Then he lifted up his stick, and out a 15 inch octopus on the plate and carried it to the kitchen.  Classic experiences on trips away from home!  Your not in Kansas anymore, Toto!

CosmoProf Bologna 2011

Amber Bowen; Stephanie Johnson, and Myself
Mirabella Beauty decided to exhibit at the CosmoProf Bologna this year after our great success with our Spanish distributor Icon.  So this past summer we hired an International sales manager, Stephanie Johnson.  Our goal for her from the start was to have 20 appointments at this show.

We ended with 46 connections, amazing!  We literally talked to interested distributors from around the world!  Africa, the Middle East, Russia, and all over Europe showed interest in little Mirabella!  Color cosmetics is a huge business, and distributors are looking for ways to grow the sales of salons through this extra retail and service boost.

So of course that was great, but just as exciting was being a part of the worlds largest beauty show!  A vast array of beauty is on display.  From fragrance, skin care, cosmetics, hair care, equipment to manufacturers of products to the manufacturers of the machines that fill the products we love. 
Some companies go all out with their booths
I have never heard of this company!

I have been to a lot of trade shows in my life, but this one had over 30 different buildings of trades shows.  Mirabella was in the US pavilion, which was across from the pavilion from Turkey, down the aisle from the UK and Belgium pavilions.

There were areas I was familiar with like the 3 buildings full of huge hair care booths like Framesi (which was launching a 4 D educational experience like Disneyland), Davines, Cottrill, and a whole host of familiar and unfamiliar brands.  I have spent my whole career in the US.  It sounds stupid to say, but there is another entire world out there of really cool stuff!

The trade show is for every beauty buyer.  There were attendees from beauty school (the show encourages vendors to sell their sample products to these people so we didn't have to ship them home), distributors to salons, perfumeries, department stores, grocery and drug stores. 

We all co-existed quite well. 

There are really inexpensive products and super premium products everywhere.

Probably the most surprising thing about the show was that L'oreal, Proctor & Gamble (Wella), nor Este Lauder (except Aveda) had any brands at the largest beauty show in the world.  I was happy to have the spotlight be on all the other brands, like Mirabella!  If those brands were there, I am not sure if there would be room for all the interesting independent brands that you get to see.  I would assume they are not there because they already have all the customers they need, all the exposure they need.
Stephanie, Amber, John and Judy Maly, and Susan Backer

But for me and Mirabella, it was our coming out party!  We have come of age and are ready to begin developing a business outside the US.  If our experience in Spain is an indication, each new place will make us better because we learn from every one of our partners!

Monday, May 9, 2011

Mirabella and John

In 2002, while running my hair care distributorship, I felt like we needed to sell color cosmetics in our stores.  I couldn't find a brand that I felt was of an image and quality that my hair stylist clients would like.  So I decided we were going to start our own brand.  Just before we hired someone to run this new venture, another acquisition came up for more territory.  We put the brand on hold.

A year later, we were approached to sell a new brand color cosmetics.  Yes, that was Mirabella!  I was so impressed by the whole approach.  Not only were the products excellent and the package beautiful, it was run by a lady who was driven!  We said "yes" and within a year we had sold $1,000,000 in cosmetics, amazing!

We were a little too good actually, because of our growth, the company quickly ran out of money.  They asked me to become a partner.  I accepted.  We moved the company into our building and ramped up the inventory for growth.  With our success, we contacted other distributors around the country, repeating the success we had with each of them.

In early 2010, we had an inquiry from a distributor in Spain, Icon.  They have embraced the brand and begun building our brand internationally! 

With excitement we look to the future attempting to help the salon and spa industry present a full beauty experience for their clients which will include color cosmetics!

My Story

Thanks for reading my story!  I was raised in Grand Rapids, Mi in a large family.  My dad owned a hair care distributorship.  We all worked in the business.  In fact, right out of high school my 3 brothers joined the business.  As the youngest, the business was more established, so I went off to college.  After 3 crazy college years, I met 2 amazing friends who were Christians.  I realized you could have more fun their way, so it ended up being my most fun year.

After graduation I too committed my life to Jesus.  It has been an amazing spiritual journey ever since.  Slowly but surely over these past couple of decades, I have learned more about what it actually means to follow Him. 

After college, I met my wife, Judy.  Shortly after, my dad called asking if we wanted to move to California to run a hair care distributorship he bought.  After lots of talks and a visit, we committed.  Over the next 18 years, we built the business from $2 million to $200 million thanks to some great people and God's blessing.

We sold that business to L'oreal in 2007.

Judy and I have 3 amazing boys, are involved with our church, the kids sports, and my business interests.


Welcome to my blog!  My goal is to share with you thoughts and ideas I come across that will help to improve the salon and spa experience through color cosmetics.  I am not very creative, but I am very inquisitive.  Because of my position, I get to see and hear a lot which I plan on passing on though these posts.

Generally very few people actually comment on a blog, but feel free!  I hope I can continue to learn.  My plan is to write when I have something to say.  We recently arrived back from 2 weeks in Europe for CosmoProf.  I have lots to say because I got to see so much.

Thanks for reading!  And if you like this, tell your friends.  I am a big believer that pursuing excellence is a group project.  It is not true that if you help your neighbor and they do better, you will do worse.  I have seen just the opposite.  If I am doing great and I teach you how to do something interesting, I will do better too!