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34 May 2017 | beautystorebusiness.com going to combine them all so the beauty professional knows it's a one-stop shop," he says. "You can get almost everything you need, whether you have a salon with a hundred employees or whether you run a salon of one, by yourself." With his background of molding visuals to fit brands' identities in his decades as a freelance artist, Alvarez's expertise will also initiate a total shift in BaBylissPRO's visuals and approach— an elevated look, enhanced educational videos and more magazine editorial work. Upgraded eye appeal made a splash at the International Salon and Spa Expo and International Beauty Show trade show earlier this year, where fresh, sharp-looking exhibits wowed showgoers. But it's not just about jaw- dropping images. "It's about expressing each brand, but also connecting them together so everything seamlessly fits into the BaBylissPRO umbrella," Alvarez explains. "That will be a major differ- ence, going forward. When you walk into our area, you get it—you can get your clippers, flat iron, hairspray, hair color and wax all from one company. I live this day in and day out, getting that message across to everyone!" TOOLING AROUND Of course, one thing will never change about Conair or its pro division: an unflag- ging dedication to innovation, especially when it comes to tools. Alvarez relishes working with a company that counts high-quality dryers, curling irons, flat irons and other thermal appliances in its roster. "Being involved with the leader of the appliance business is so excit- ing for me, coming from a liquids-only company," Alvarez enthuses. "We were using BaBylissPRO [tools] on our stages for years, but now we have the ability to have these precise, incredible tools at our disposal." Hence, a focus on technology and quality will continue unabated, but Alva- rez is also interested in promoting those tools' benefits—what a pro stylist can do with those tools behind the chair. His goal: to add educational assets that detail all the versatility of those high- performance products. "That's what I've been doing my whole life, exploring how to use the tool and all of the possibilities of what you can create," Alvarez says. "Whether I was working for the cover of Vogue or an ad campaign, it's always been about using the right product with the right tool under the right conditions. So, in addition to technology-driven vid- eos that show how well the products are made, we'll add performance advice. Now that you've bought the Ferrari, we'll show you how to drive it." To that end, Alvarez is building an in-house studio, allowing the team to cre- ate educational videos and other assets on-site, thus allowing the company to raise its profile and boost customer edu- cation. Alvarez also brought his entire Aquage team on board to ensure rigorous product testing—a cornerstone of the company, but one that he wants to bring to the next level to ensure that any prod- uct truly meets professional demands. "If you create something a professional will love, the consumer loves it as well," he explains. "We'll make professional tools with those specifications, so then any consumer can easily use them." Indeed, Alvarez calls himself the "hairdresser in-house," looking at prod- ucts from their perspective, mulling over their needs for every decision made. He's also "24-7," he laughs, traveling most weekends of the year (fortunately, his wife serves as makeup artist for the photo shoots). "Our life is our work, and our work is our life," he says. "We're just totally committed to this industry, and we feel blessed." SEEING THE FUTURE Alvarez believes one of the biggest shifts in the pro arena involves the salon suites that are cropping up coast to coast, where individual professionals are work- ing in a salon of one—leading to a "total change in the dynamics of the industry," "Once stores make themselves a resource not just for products, but on how to use those products, they'll see sales increase exponentially." Courtesy of Luis Alvarez Always hands-on, Alvarez applies fi nal touches at the Aquage EnPointe collection shoot. 1959: Continental Hair products formed by Julian, Josephine and Leandro P. Rizzuto 1960-70: Introduction of pistol-grip hair dryer revolutionizes salon industry; hot comb and metal hair dryer introduced 1976: Company name changed to Conair Corporation 1983: Conair begins trading on the New York Stock Exchange (in 1985, Leandro Rizzuto buys back 60 percent of stock for sole ownership of Conair) 1999: Conair turns 40 with gross sales of more than $1 billion; professional division becomes ConairPro 2003: Conair becomes sole owner of Rusk 2016: The professional division of Conair acquires SalonQuest, provider of Aquage and Biomega Haircare CONAIR: THE TIMELINE Since 1959, Conair has grown into a multinational powerhouse — and continues to reach new heights nearly 60 years after its inception. Some highlights from each decade: