Beauty Store Business

AUG 2019

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62 August 2019 | Executive Q&A wenty years ago, South Arican-born brothers David and Anthony Leib coounded San Diego-based Robanda International, a diversiied beauty products manuacturer serving both consumers and proessionals spanning several market segments. Prorituals, Bodyography, Mr. Pumice and Crack, Hair & Fix are among the best known o the company's 15 brands, which are distributed in 58 countries around the globe. David heads the company as CEO while Anthony serves as vice president o sales–and a host o other amily members (spanning three generations!) hold key management positions. A company with solid values, they have many longtime employees and their products are paraben- and cruelty-ree, made with ully recyclable and biodegrable materials. In 2018, Robanda International was recognized as one o the astest-growing private companies in the U.S., landing well into the top third o the Inc. 5000 list. With 36 employees and 50 sales reps, they are poised or urther growth. Here, David Leib gives us a look into the company's success. Beauty Store Business: Please tell us about the beauty distribution business your parents owned in Cape Town, South Arica. David Leib: It was an import/distribution model... It had a strong skincare ocus with a French brand that became the No. 1 salon brand in the country. Other brands were targeted at prestige or mass distribution. As a kid, I spent time in their oice and warehouse, oten just packing orders. Beauty was in my veins rom a young age. How did your previous experience prepare you or coounding Robanda International? The beauty industry is airly similar worldwide, based on dierent distribution channels (prestige, mass, proessional, etc). Prior to coming to the U.S., I did a two-year stint in the UK launching a French skincare brand owned by Revlon. This was ollowed by a three-year stint in New York City working or a beauty company (eventually as president). What brand did Robanda start with? We started with a small skincare range and soon ater, we made our irst brand acquisition called Jingles, a proessional haircare brand. This gave us entry to around 30 proessional distributors across the U.S. Ater that, we made roughly one brand acquisition every two years. We started about hal the brands we own; the others were acquired. What were the biggest challenges in the early days? The same thing all startups go through: cash low, inancing, staing, and being hands-on in so many dierent areas o the business. What marked your irst big success? Most brands we have acquired have grown over 200 percent, but I would say Mr. Pumice has been one o our biggest successes, with around 800 percent growth. Bodyography Cosmetics has been our biggest success internationally. When we acquired it, they only sold to Canada. Now the brand is sold in over 55 countries worldwide, and should exceed 60 by year end. How do you run the business with Anthony and your amily? My brother Anthony [Leib] is vice president o sales; he has a national sales manager under him, who handles our domestic sales rep orce o around 45. He also is responsible or some key account management; Sally Beauty is an example. Shawn Russell, our cousin, handles all export sales. He has played an integral role in our growth. I try to ocus on the larger picture or the company: brand direction, acquisitions, budgets, inance, etc. It's super being in a amily business, as there is always someone present at the oice rom the greater amily. Our parents, Helen and Gerry Leib, still come into the oice three days a week. We are truly blessed to have parents in such wonderul health and so much a part o the company. Having two o my daughters work with me daily is very ulilling. Lori Leib, my eldest, has been with us almost 10 years. For many years, Bodyography Cosmetics was her baby. She was creative director. Last year, we promoted her to marketing director or all brands. Matti Leib is in sales and assists Shawn in the export department, acilitating all export orders, travel, shows, etc. Everyone in the amily has their speciic roles to perorm. What do you think makes a winning brand? A brand that has a strong ollowing and repeat purchases. Anyone can get that irst sale to a customer through a variety o marketing methods, but it's having them love the brand and retaining them that's the trick. However, we need to be able to execute on all levels or any o our brands to be successul. David Leib The CEO o Robanda International relects on the company's 20 years o success. Courtesy o DevaCurl

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