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32 May 2017 | beautystorebusiness.com A FRESH START It is a time for exciting change for Conair. Most notably, the company's professional division (including Aquage, Rusk, BaByliss- PRO, ConairPro, Satin Smooth and Barber- ology brands) will now be known as BaBylissPRO to better differentiate pro- fessional and consumer products. "After our company merged with Conair, I took over the role of vice president of market- ing, creative and education—not just for Aquage, but all of the brands," Alvarez explains. "We're uniting all of the brands we currently have under the BaBylissPRO umbrella, letting customers know we have one vision: to deliver to professionals all the highest quality tools, techniques and education they could ever possibly want to do beautiful hair and success- fully run their businesses—not just to use them, but to retail them." It's no surprise that Alvarez was offered the position; his beauty back- ground reaches back decades. During a 20-year stint as a freelance artist, he styled hair for photo shoots, movies, vid- eos, commercials and magazines, helping brands to best express their esthetic identities. During these years collab- orating on the creation of thousands of images, Alvarez learned how they powerfully express a brand's identity. He then joined the corporate world as creative director at Matrix Essentials, until he left to start Aquage from scratch with cofounder Dennis Lubin just before the turn of the millennium. Throughout 17 years of building the company, he often directed the labs to create new products, but his job didn't stop there. "It's something that changes your per- spective; when you start at the ground level developing a product and then give it birth, you do everything from creating to packaging and marketing to visuals to education and sales," Alvarez notes. "You develop a level of ownership that someone who works only in marketing or creative doesn't develop." By 2016, merging with Conair became a no-brainer. In Rizzuto, he recognized a kindred spirit: someone whose hair- biz family started from scratch, who'd witnessed (then spearheaded) the inven- tions of revolutionary products and knew the nature of creation from start to finish, and finally to the end user. "He's so passionate about our industry," Alvarez marvels, noting that even today Rizzuto sits in meetings brainstorming on how to improve a blow dryer's motor. "It's refreshing to work with him; he doesn't only look at the sale of an item, but is involved every step of the way. That makes a big difference. This gentleman doesn't cut corners, and I love working with someone like that." Rizzuto, of course, draws upon a deep well of experience (after all, Conair kicked off when Alvarez was all of 2 years old) and remains obsessed with delivering products that make the com- pany proud, even if it means outspending the competition, Alvarez notes. Luckily, Rizzuto is a sharer and a hands-on leader, and Alvarez avidly picks up morsels of knowledge from the CEO at every oppor- tunity. "It's exciting to be somewhere where not only can I contribute, but I can also learn," Alvarez says. "That's what I find so thrilling about being part of the BaBylissPRO organization." THE SEAMLESS WHOLE Conair's professional brands cover a range of needs for the industry. Want thermal tools? The BaBylissPRO brand features well-loved products like the lightweight yet powerful Rapido Hair Dryer and the Prima, which Alvarez calls "the Bentley of flat irons." Want to cash in on the boom- ing men's grooming market? Barberology boasts clippers, trimmers and scissors. Meanwhile, Rusk includes hair colors and liquids; Aquage offers liquids with a spa-level look and high-performance results; and Satin Smooth tackles skin- care needs and hair removal. Hence, a large part of Alvarez's current task is to unite the brands, playing on their individual strengths while present- ing them as parts of a seamless whole. "Instead of thinking of Rusk or Aquage or BaBylissPRO as separate companies, I'm "That's job No. 1 right now: for appliances, liquid and color to achieve results faster than ever before while maintaining the integrity and health of the hair." Age: 58 years Gross sales: $3 billion Employees worldwide: 3,500 Total square footage of facilities worldwide: 8 million Number of brands owned by Conair: 24 Number of countries in which Conair sells products: 124 Number of personal care appliances manufactured annually: 78 million Number of hair accessories and brushes manufactured annually: 205 million BY THE NUMBERS Conair's reach is awe-inspiring, as evidenced by these statistics: ®