Beauty Store Business

JUN 2019

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28 June 2019 | beautystorebusiness.com AN AUSPICIOUS START Renato Brunas and his brother Gino hailed from the world of beauty. They were born to perfumers in Naples, Italy, and as young adults worked for the family business before moving to Paris to study hair. Renato immigrated to England in the early 1960s, where he opened a salon in London's posh Mayfair neighborhood. It soon became a styling mecca, frequented by diplomats and members of the royal family. But Renato was a curious perfectionist, never content to rest when there was more to learn. "Despite the soaring success of his shop, he decided to take a two-year sabbatical to study chemical dyes and earn the title master colorist," says Emma Daly, brand manager for PBS. "He wanted to know everything that went into the process of coloring hair and how new products might better protect clients' health." Gino joined his brother in 1965, and together they launched Renbow International, the name a combination of Renato and Bow, the street on which his salon was located. While Renato handled all aspects related to creativity and product development, Gino managed business affairs. Renbow gave Renato a platform to experiment with the production of unconventional shades. "The semi-permanent color market was already in existence, but pigments ranged mainly from blonde to soft auburn to natural brown tones," Daly recounts. Inspired by individuality, Renato had a mind to break beyond the basics and Crazy Color was birthed from that dream. It debuted in 1977, smack in the middle of the punk rock explosion overtaking Britain. The line's original 20 dyes were instantly in fierce demand, beloved by both radical street kids and professional stylists who appreciated the advanced formulations that would soon become salon staples–even in the U.S. As the hype surrounding Crazy Color grew, so too did Renato's popularity. The master stylist went on to found Oro Vision of Beauty magazine, a trade publication where hair artists could share skills and swap techniques. "He helped mentor many of the greats, including Trevor Sorbie, Tony and Guy Mascolo, and Vidal Sassoon, because Renato had already been established for a decade by the time these future legends were emerging in the 1960s," says Daly. FRUITFUL ACQUISITION Although Crazy Color is renowned in the U.K., stateside the brand slipped into some obscurity after its bright debut. However, parent company PBS is on a quest to change that. Formed in 1984 as a small, family-founded beauty group, today PBS employs more than 250 people working from two laboratory, manufacturing and production sites that together total roughly 45,000 square feet. Like Renato Brunas, PBS managing director Stephen Macdonough grew up in the beauty industry. "My grandfather and all my uncles worked as barbers and my mother was a stylist, so I was brought up in the back of a salon," he says. He remembers rows of ladies sitting under banks of dryers, getting their shampoos and sets. The smells of perfume and hair lacquer defined his early childhood. Macdonough has been with PBS for more than 30 years, and he was hugely instrumental in the Crazy Color acquisition. The opportunity arose when the Brunas brothers decided to retire and sell their brand. Colette Macdonough, Stephen's wife, had grown up vacationing with Gino and Renato, and the purchase happened by way of a casual conversation. In 2009, the two groups simply sat down and agreed to a transfer of custodianship. "To this day, I view us as guardians of this wonderful brand," says Macdonough. "Renato and Gino will forever be its original, rightful keepers." ( Renato passed away in 2014, followed by Gino in 2017. ) One of the first–and arguably most consequential–decisions PBS made was to keep the hot pink bottle in which Crazy Color semi-permanent "From across the room, I saw an Italian woman point at a pink bottle I had on the table and excitedly exclaim, 'That's Crazy Color!'" –Stephen Macdonough, managing director, PBS Renato Brunas (L) with Vidal Sassoon Courtesy of Crazy Color

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