Memo Exclusive: An Interview with Reuben Carranza, Luxury Brand Partners President of R+Co
Luxury Brand Partners (LBP) has developed a portfolio of brands that share a similar focus on innovation and creativity. One of these artist-driven beauty brands, R+Co, brings together a collective of top stylists, led by hero hairdressers Howard McLaren, Thom Priano and Garren, to celebrate the culture of hairdressing, provide high-performance products and offer top-of-the-line education. At the helm of this burgeoning brand iLuxury Brand Partners President of R+Co Reuben Carranza. An industry veteran, Carranza joined LBP to oversee the development of several new brands and education platforms.
MODERN spent time with Carranza at a recent R+Co artist’s education held in Los Angeles to talk about how the brand is honoring both the artist’s experience and their needs as entrepreneurs.
MS: When did R+Co first appear on the salon scene and where is it found today?
RC: April 2017 was our third-year anniversary of the brand launch. Today, we’re in 19 countries, all three provinces in Canada and 2, 200 salons, globally. In the US, we have around 1,250 salons and we estimate about 18,000 hairdressers are in our global network. We have been pleasantly shocked by the rapid growth.
In the US, it has been more advantageous for us to be direct but we have 22 distributors that we work with outside of the US to educate consumers and support our brands.
MS: How would you describe your focus as a brand?
RC: It has been very simple. Our focus has been on driving new points of distribution, driving replenishment in the doors that take us on and focus on the culture for the hairdressers in our network. Growing our footprint, replenishment and our culture—those are our three key strategies.
MS: How does a salon become part of your network?
RC: Our model is selective distribution. When we allow salons to come into the network we believe they have the ability to do good business with the brand. We invest heavily in the salon in our network and we work closely with them to keep our product offerings streamlined. Our promise to them is that we’ll never have more than 55 SKUs.
MS: What can we look forward to in the coming months?
RC: Every time we go through an innovation and planning session we ask ourselves: is there something in the existing lineup that does something similar? Every SKU has to have a unique performance and point-of-view. It’s this unique voice and message that helps stylists get trial with their clients.
On the product innovation front, we are moving into tools. At the end of the year, we’re excited to be introducing a set of boar bristle round brushes that were designed by our collective. The core philosophy of our founders is that great tools for the professional hairstylist is a must. These brushes were crafted to have just the right weight and balance.
We’ll also be moving into appliances, introducing a blow dryer at the beginning of next year, but it will be a careful and well-thought-out selection.
Our shampoos and conditioners were formulated so that we could say, if you just use these items, you should be able to create a style without a styling product. We have done a great deal in form innovation and it will be ongoing. We have things planned around multi-benefit products which is a trend we see continuing. .
Dry Shampoo is a big category for us and our cleansing foam has been very successful. You will see us doing a lot with scalp and offering solutions that people are asking for and answers for how to promote a healthy scalp environment.
MS: You have a following of high-profile, editorial stylists. How does an independent connect with R+Co?
RC: We as a brand are about the culture of the hairdresser. We don’t have a point-of-view on the salon professional versus the independent. Our belief is that a licensed hairdresser needs to be well-trained and needs to embrace their craft but we’re not dictating a business model.
We have a lot of editorial stylists who are using our program. Many are bicoastal, with their own locations on both coasts, and if they buy into the culture, they should be able to use our products. They are able to shop with us through our online professional program by submitting their license number.
The only rule we have is no price promotion; we don’t retail our litres. What we do want to know is are you growing your skills? That is what we look at and what matters to us, most.