Beauty Store Business

DEC 2018

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beautystorebusiness.com | December 2018 21 Great risks can produce great rewards, and Choi was banking on Izutech's success because there was a lot at stake: He had recently married and had a 1-year-old son to support. "It was a huge risk, but I believed in the company so much that I was willing to take a big risk. Throughout the Izunami days, not only did I work on the design and marketing; I also naturally became an educator to our distributors, which led me to sales. All the independent distributors who had a personal connection with me stood by me and were thank„ul I continued the brand. It was a humbling experience to connect with people who really believed in me and supported me." That support system proved to be invaluable, and since the company rebranded, Choi has grown Izutech 20 percent year over year. DESIGN AND TECHNOLOGY Choi says he's done a lot o„ soul-searching over the years and has come to the conclusion that his educational and pro„essional careers have revolved around solving one important question: What makes a design good? "That one question led me to where I'm standing now," he says. "To really understand that question, I had to run a business mysel„. That question and that philosophy led to all o„ my products. Design is not just about the beauti„ication o„ a product; it's truly a solution to all levels o„ the process." For example, Izutech's bare-bones packaging minimizes waste both to be aesthetically pleasing and to reduce logistical and shipping costs–resulting in lower prices „or the consumer. In addition to his thought„ul approach to design, Choi methodically studies the market and elicits customer „eedback to gauge what beauty pro„essionals actually want. When Izutech started in 2008, he noticed a boom in the popularity o„ keratin treatments, and soon stylists were requesting a „lat iron speci„ically catering to the service. By partnering with a „actory in Korea, Choi developed the „astest heating technology on the market and integrated it into his KTX450 (short „or Keratin Treatment Express 450 F) series o„ „lat irons „or pro„essionals, which continues to be the brand's bread and butter. "Other tool companies at that time had short plates, typically 3 1 /2-inches in length, but what we did was expand them to 4 1 /4 by 1 1 /4 inches–extra-long and -wide plates. That really catered to pro„essionals' needs because they could work on bigger sections o„ hair, saving time and money." Through word o„ mouth, the KTX line became a hit in the Middle East and South America. Clients with coarse, thick, wavy and long hair particularly cherished the „lat irons because they straighten unruly locks without causing damage. "The „lat irons were our „irstborn children. Those were the products that really gave us credibility with our users and the ability to expand to dryers and lower-tier products." The KTX „lat irons „eature titanium plates, but Izutech also o„„ers ceramic varieties. "A lot o„ com- panies say titanium heats up „aster than ceramic; I don't believe that's true. It's the heater underneath the plates that makes it unique," he says. The main di„„erence between the two types o„ plates is that titanium won't erode „rom the chemicals used in keratin or straightening treatments, but ceramic plates will gradually grind down when they come into contact with harsh chemicals. "For natural hair, I'd recommend ceramic „lat irons because ceramic and tourmaline naturally release negative ions, so they seal the cuticles." One o„ Choi's biggest career highlights came at last year's Cosmopro„ North America in Las Vegas, which marked the launch o„ Izutech's color line o„ tools. Made in China, the line includes travel-„riendly „lat irons a„„ordably priced at $49.95 and mini blowdryers „or $59.95–available in Cotton Pink, Lilac Purple, Turquoise and Sky Blue. They became instant best-sellers. "I couldn't keep up with the demand. The very attractive price point, colors, technology, packaging and way they were being displayed–our customers loved it. It was the product line that made Izutech known to the mass market. And since then, we started rolling out other products that would stand side by side with the „lat irons," he says. Because many hairstylists and salon owners to this day haven't „ully recovered „rom the recession, it was imperative „or Choi that the color line be e„„ortlessly salable „or salon pro„essionals. "As the solution to that, what I did was design a six-pack display so salon pro„essionals could buy it wholesale and sell them to customers to make up some o„ what they've lost. That has been very success„ul and led us to bigger sales channels and buyers," Choi says. MORE INNOVATION TO COME Choi currently runs what he calls a "lean company," with „ive „ull-time employees. When it comes to the company culture, he says it's all about trust, open communication and relationships. He has also placed a great deal o„ that trust in the manu„acturer reps he's worked with since the early days o„ Izunami, with The Kirschner Group representing the northeast and VNC Sales covering the rest o„ the country, Canada and South America. "People have been very loyal to me, and I've been very loyal to them–small or big," he notes. Choi's calculated growth strategy and hands-on approach „or executing his „ull vision have driven Izutech's success. He has a hand in everything „rom packaging and product development to creating educational materials and sales „lyers. Instead o„ o„„ering hundreds o„ SKUs, Choi pre„ers to slowly roll out new products a„ter receiving critique „rom a test audience. "We have a three-step strategy where we test the product and get „eedback, re„ine it a little The titanium, 1 1 /4-inch plates of the KTX450 LT Pure Titanium flat iron are professional grade, corrosion-free and heat up in less than 30 seconds. With a dual-heat sensor and adjustable controls from 250 to 450 F, it's ideal for use with straightening treatments. SRP: $279.95 The tourmaline- ceramic 1-inch plates of the KTX450 V3 Ceramic flat iron naturally release negative ions and seal hair cuticles. The rounded edges feature real diamonds, tourmaline crystals and ceramic for lustrous locks. SRP: $259.95 Made with tourmaline-ceramic plates, the BTX450 Ceramic Color Series flat irons are available in four pastel hues and feature temperature controls up to 450 F. The plates release negative ions, which create frizz-free, static-free, shiny locks. The rounded edges make it easy to curl hair, too. SRP: $49.95 (each)

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