Beauty Store Business

OCT 2017

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Page 33 of 75

32 October 2017 | "My father first had a couple of beauty salons in the States, and that evolved into beauty supply stores— that's when I jumped into the family business," says Osman Mithavayani, Ali's son and vice president of Xtreme Beauty International. "Then, the opera- tion became a wholesale business, as we'd buy products from other brands and resell them to stores." Seven years ago, an irresistible opportunity cropped up to buy a small manufacturer that consisted of two brands: Clear Fast and OKAY Pure Natu- rals (the latter then consisted of a single SKU). They took it. "In 2010, President Obama was encouraging people to bring businesses to the United States, so we decided to purchase a small company," Ali says. Over the past seven years, that humble venture has soared to remark- able heights as OKAY Pure Naturals has morphed into the company's flagship brand—think hundreds of products and multinational reach—even as the family learned some harsh lessons along the way. ON THE RISE With decades of experience in the indus- try between the family members behind OKAY Pure Naturals, manufacturing a quality product in the U.S. was always the most important priority—and the key to achieving that goal was maintain- ing control of the entire process. Mira pitches predominantly on the finance side, and today acts as treasurer and office mastermind for OKAY. Meanwhile, Ali focused on creating and developing the business, and Osman, now 32, has spent half his life learning every facet of the industry. "Manufacturing for ourselves really pays off: We have control over quality and quantity. We can produce whatever we want," Ali says. "If we used a manu- facturing contractor, we'd have to abide by their rules. We did not have much experience in manufacturing products but started hiring chemists and design- ers to help, and we learned from the company we purchased from." Indeed, their various strengths have contributed to a business that has grown exponentially since it was acquired. "We started out very small, but now we're much bigger, dealing with so many major retailers (including Walmart, Target, Marshalls, T.J. Maxx, Rite Aid, Bed Bath & Beyond and Harmon Discount), plus nationwide beauty supply stores in gen- eral, and exporting to more than 35 countries," Osman says. "We manufac- ture more than 500 items in-house, so we're able to sell to all markets: profes- sional salons and barber shops, spas, traditional OTC beauty supply stores, supermarkets, pharmacies and boutique stores. We sell products that care for the top of your head to the bottom of your feet—the only things we don't do are makeup and nails!" For the Mithavayanis, remaining a family business has always been a priority—even today, with 50 staff members on board. Osman stresses that their painstak- ing attention to process helps monitor profit margins, keeps overhead low and delivers top-quality products to custom- ers. Even ingredient sourcing and brand image are carefully cultivated. "It always gets easier, but we have a good team," Ali says. "Many people have been with us for years, and we treat them right while being very family- oriented. My son is instrumental in clos- ing deals with major retailers, we have salespeople who travel the world with us, and I'm just back from China meeting with buyers. I wear multiple hats! As a family business, we have to be involved. If a customer needs something, he or she can talk to us directly, without waiting." But it wasn't always an easy road. When Ali was juggling a career at GE, even he experienced a period of failure. "We had no one there managing the business in wholesale, and my father's partner at the time was robbing him," Osman recounts. "The warehouse stood still for several weeks, so I stepped in and started managing—while doing everything else, like packing and ship- ping orders by myself. We struggled a lot along the way, but those experiences have given us a great edge." START TO FINISH Despite some rocky moments—or perhaps due to them—the family now focuses fully on its fast-growing enter- prise, having learned from past follies. With a two-story office that houses accounting, sales and marketing, plus an attached 54,000-square-foot manufac- turing facility in Miami, the Mithavayanis keep a close eye on operations at all levels, and they're decidedly hands-on at every step. "We manufacture in-house "We struggled a lot along the way, but those experiences have given us a great edge." –Osman Mithavayani Coconut Hair Care Colored Edges Sticks Black Jamaican Castor Oil African Shea Butter Osman Mithavayani reveals the company's top four selling products and collections. Images courtesy of OKAY Naturals

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