Beauty Store Business

DEC 2018

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20 December 2018 | beautystorebusiness.com A RISK WORTH TAKING In 2002, Choi graduated rom St. John's University with a bachelor's degree in graphic design, and then immediately began seeking a summer job or the interim beore starting graduate school at Pratt Institute. Ater combing the newspaper or opportunities, he ound an opening at Shake-N-Go, one the top makers o hair extensions in the ethnic beauty sector. As luck would have it, he got hired the next day. Over the course o his stint at Shake-N-Go, Choi developed a strong rapport with the company's ounder and vice president, Mike Kim. Kim grew so ond o Choi that he rehired him once Choi completed graduate school with a degree in industrial design. Choi would work at Shake-N-Go or three years, absorbing as much knowledge rom Kim as he could while moving up the corporate ladder. "The biggest asset in business is rela- tionships," Choi says. "Ater working at a ew places in my lie, I've realized that it's not where you work, but who you work with. Perhaps this is why I've hung around with Mike Kim, my previous boss and mentor, or nearly 20 years. Although he was never an easy boss to work with, he gave me so much opportunity and experi- ence, which led me to be conident in who I am today. He is my personal mentor– energetic, unny, un and a great riend." In 2007, Mike Kim and his brother, James Kim, CEO o Shake-N-Go, decided to expand their company by ounding a new tool brand called Izunami. And they wanted Choi at the helm as director. The brand launched with lat irons the ollowing year, which happened to be the start o the Great Recession. "We tried very hard to get the brand into the market, but one o our biggest challenges wasn't the recession; it was the act that we had so much experience in the ethnic beauty sector, which is totally dierent rom the general and proessional markets, that it was very diicult to understand our consumers' needs," Choi says. Over the next ive years, the Kim brothers grew increasingly dissatisied with Izunami's sales and decided it was time to revert their ull attention to their ruitul wigs and extensions business. But Choi's period at Izunami proved to be a tremendous learning opportunity–one he wasn't ready to give up on just yet. "It was heartbreaking to see my baby discontinued. It hurt a lot, very person- ally," Choi reveals. "Starting Izunami rom the very beginning and seeing the big potential the brand had, I couldn't let it go into thin air. My investors may have thought I was in it or the short proit game, but I saw this as long-term." So, Choi took a huge leap o aith and went all in, cashing out his personal savings and 401K to invest, persuading outside investors to join him and scrounging up as much money as he could to purchase and rebrand Izunami in January 2014. "I adjusted the name because people had a hard time recognizing and remem- bering it, a oreign name. When I irst relaunched our brand, I kept the essence o the logo and changed the name to Izutech so that people understood what kind o company we were and it didn't hurt the essential look o the brand itsel," he says. That marked the ounding o ESD Proes- sional, Izutech's parent company based in Paterson, New Jersey. "It was a huge risk, but I believed in the company so much that I was willing to take a big risk." Choi's sketches o the packaging or the TORO X4000 Pro blowdryer Featuring a powerful 2,000-watt AC motor, the TORO X4000 Pro is quiet, only weighs 20.1 ounces and helps lock in moisture for softer hair. It features a heavy-duty 8-foot cord, three heat settings, two fan speeds, a cool shot button and includes two concentrator nozzles. Suggested Retail Price: $99.95 BUSINESS TIPS FROM JIN CHOI Izutech's president shares his advice for burgeoning beauty entrepreneurs. Quality Comes First: "There are many ways to cut corners to make the product cheaper, but we don't choose this way. We bring maximum value and quality to our customers at a competitive price point." Be Passionate: "You have to really love something to risk it all, which I did. I literally put 'all in' to this business. It's very difficult, but if you don't love something that much, it's not going to happen. Owning a business is not a fantasy; it takes real dedication, resiliency and creativity." Listen to Your Customers: "A lot of our customers were satisfied because what they've suggested has been reflected in our products, so they feel it's customized to their needs. That's been a part of our success." Build a Rapport with Manufacturer Reps: "The Kirschner Group and VNC Sales & Marketing have been with us since the day Izunami was born, back in 2008. Without them, Izutech couldn't be here today. It was their dedication and loyalty to our brand that got us here." Learn from Your Mentors: "Beauty is changing with online and Amazon, and the way we distribute has changed a lot over the years. First, start by getting experience at a company you admire before jumping into your own business." Get Feedback from Distributors: "Their feedback has been what shaped Izutech's products. It is so much fun listening to them because it gives us the opportunity to change." 6

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