Beauty Store Business

FEB 2015

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60 February 2015 | Beauty Store Business: Please tell us about the history of Olivia Garden. JEAN RENNETTE: I was a schoolteacher and a professional water-ski instructor— but, most of all, I was really interested in the business world. Then I met my wife, Micheline, a hairdresser and an esthe- tician, and she introduced me to the fascinating beauty industry. In 1967, we identified a new, up-and-coming market trend for wigs and hairpieces, and we founded Olivia Garden. Although I was a teacher with tenure, I quit my job and embarked on our adventure. Since the beginning of Olivia Garden, we have always been at the forefront of innovation. To start, we were one of the first worldwide to launch high-quality syn- thetic wigs and hairpieces. With no prior manufacturing experience, I went to Hong Kong and opened our own wig factory. For distribution, we had our own sales force visiting all the Belgian hair salons. Meanwhile, in the department stores, we had retail booths with our own sales team. In 1974, we launched the Clairol hair- color line in Belgium through our existing sales force. In 1976, we widely promoted eco-friendly, nonaerosol products to protect the ozone layer and to prevent climate change. We were nearly 40 years ahead of today's awareness! We also innovated in marketing and sales incentives. For example, in 1974, we organized a promotional trip with 252 Belgian hairdressers for five days to New York City, visiting all the famous salons there such as Paul Mitchell, Lin- termans and Seligman & Latz at Saks Fifth Ave. And, in 1976, we returned to New York for the World Championships of Hairdressing. In 1978, we started focusing on expanding our export distribution and on professional-tool innovations such as: • The Milcoup, a patented haircutting cape • The Two-in-One crimper, a reversible straightening iron with one side to cre- ate waves and the other to straighten • The Silence HP, a patented, silent blow-dryer made in Belgium • A full line of patented perm curlers without rubber bands: Variocurler, Wavecurler, Spiralcurler and Bodycurler • The Clip N Curl for spiraling long hair • The JET SET and the NITE CURL, unique self-gripping curlers All of these products were huge suc- cesses and earned Olivia Garden its reputa- tion as an innovator in the beauty industry. In 1983, I foresaw that the future of business was to become a global company. Having achieved my goals in the European market, I decided to open Olivia Garden Inc., and in 1985, I moved to California to develop the U.S. market. We were restarting from scratch since the U.S. and European markets are so different. We started our U.S. distribution, focusing only on our innovative hair-curler lines. It was a daunting challenge since I was assuming at the same time the growth of our European company. Through the contacts I made in the United States, our European company became the master distributor for several major U.S. companies such as Kimberly- Clark, Inspire books and the massage brush from RAJE, among many others. Over 12 years, from 1985 to 1997, to grow both companies simultaneously, I alternated living three months on each continent. It required a lot of traveling since we were exhibiting at all major trade shows in the States and worldwide. In the mid-1990s, hair trends changed, and so did the styling tech- niques. Brushes progressively replaced the curlers as the main hairstyling tools. Our curler experience was ideal for tran- sitioning to brushes. In doing so, we progressively introduced in the brush business most of the new concepts and technologies that are now the norm of the brush industry. Some of these brands and innovations are: • High-quality professional thermal brushes with a lifetime warranty against manufacturer's defects • Ceramic + Ion, combining ceramic and ionic technologies • NanoThermic, with Nano-Silver tech- nology to make it antibacterial • ThermoActive, a unique scalp-hugging, vented round brush • Fingerbrush, a scalp-hugging paddle brush • HeatPro, with Nylgard bristles, which are heat-resistant up to 550°F • Healthy Hair, an eco-friendly brush line with a trademarked, beautiful bamboo-striped pattern How has the company changed over the years? Jean Rennette: Today, Olivia Gar- den has offices in Belgium and the United States, and its products are available in more than 65 countries around the world. But, besides growing and expanding, Olivia Garden at its core hasn't changed. It is still family-owned, and the new generation of co-owners has the same intense passion for the beauty industry as its co-founders. Our family definitely sees Olivia Garden as a lifestyle, not a job. What makes your company and products unique? PIERRE RENNETTE: Our products focus on quality, innovation and offering solutions for professional needs. We sin- cerely believe that stylists' tools are very important and contribute to achieving the best professional styling results. All images courtesy of Olivia Garden "I foresaw that the future of business was to become a global company … In 1985, I moved to California to develop the U.S. market." Olivia Garden's Anne Maza: "Our new U.S. headquarters is a real dream come true!"

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