So what is Maly’s take on the current salon-products distribution landscape? “The salon and the needs of the salon owner have not changed in 25 years,” he says. “The industry is still 95% controlled by independent salons. They want help. They want someone who knows them, cares about them. And frankly, independent distributors do a great job of this. They don’t have enough powerful brands to have stores. So they are destined to fight Beauty Systems Group and SalonCentric with the brands that they have that get bigger. Many of these brands are going to have to be very patient to stick completely with these smaller players, as the gold of the professional-only stores is hard to not want to capture.
“I believe there will always be that next interesting creative brand that independent salons will be drawn to,” he continues. “The question will be: Are there enough of these brands that can help those smaller distributors get enough traction so they can become a real factor?
“I think it will happen,” he quickly adds. “In the next five years, there will be 20 to 30 distributors that will be doing $10 million or more each. If that happens, the cycle of this industry will start again.”
Mirabella Beauty—a mineral-based color cosmetics brand that now offer a full range of more than 200 products for face, eyes and lips for all skin tones, as well as accessories and tools—was founded by Christy Thurston, former national beauty director for Nordstrom. Maly’s West became its first distributor. When Maly’s West was sold, Maly held onto Mirabella Beauty. He became a financial partner in 2005, but remained only a board member until March 2010, he says. At that time, the operations and financial condition of the company had deteriorated, so he stepped in to turn things around, he states.
After 18 months, Mirabella did turn around, and is growing nicely as a makeup line for beauty professionals in the United States, he says. It’s now available in more than 1,000 salons nationwide as well as 600 professional-only U.S. stores. Mirabella has also expanded into six countries in Europe and Asia, and the brand is currently pursuing distribution in Canada. Its annual sales have grown to about $6 million, according to one public report. Its creative director is Amber Bowen, a key participant in the creation of the brand and a licensed cosmetologist who was mentored by Thurston.
Some of Mirabella’s most interesting innovations have come from social media, Maly points out. The company started a YouTube channel to house educational videos for professionals and consumers, he explains. With each seasonal collection, a new video is created. The link is shared with all of the registered salons. These salons are then encouraged to eblast their guests with the content. Ideally, their salon clients will watch the new-collection video prior to their next visit, then be ready to purchase.
Mirabella invited YouTube guru Kandee Johnson to Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week in New York City this past fall. Fifty thousand consumers in one week saw the videos Mirabella produced, according to Maly.
Also, Mirabella has grown its Facebook followers from 700 to more than 16,000 this year, providing regular content to its fans.
Additionally, Maly writes a blog (http://johnmalysblog.blogspot.com) for Mirabella. The content is primarily about the business of makeup. (He was writing a successful blog at Maly’s West as well prior to the sale.)
Mirabella is also a member of ICMAD. “As a small brand, ICMAD has networking that has been valuable,” he says. “I have learned a lot from the connections I have made.” He wrote a one-page story in the November issue of The ICMAD Digest.
Recently, Mirabella hired New York City-based Siren Public Relations, and did a round of PR meetings with New York City-based consumer magazine editors as well as a blogger event.
In addition, Mirabella has announced that in January it will introduce the Signature Brush Collection: 14 different makeup brushes in a $19-to-$60 SRP range; and an aluminum, cylinder-shaped brush roll designed to hold and protect the entire set of brushes.
[Image: Courtesy of Mirabella Beauty Products]