If you could interview any professional salon leader, who would it be and what would you ask?
We invited Mary Swank, co-owner of Simply Swank in Hudson, Ohio, to be the reporter. She picked Frédéric Fekkai, president, Fekkai and Co. Here’s part of their conversation:
Swank: Where do you come up with your best ideas?
Fekkai: I pull them from my life experiences ... I love to travel and see different cultures. I love to look at the style of people on the streets, visit the local stores and sample the local cuisine.
Swank: What or who inspires you?
Fekkai: I am inspired by artists, writers and people who are willing to push boundaries. This year I was really moved by the creators and writers of Slumdog Millionaire. Films like these show the genius in writers. They can grab your attention and just hold onto it.
Swank: What was your turning point in becoming a successful business owner?
Fekkai: When I launched my product line in 1988, I created a line of products that had the same philosophy as a skin care line. Beautiful hair starts with healthy hair. I knew women were comfortable spending money on skin care so I needed to educate them to take care of their hair in the same manner. This allowed me to introduce premium products in to a new channel of distribution—Saks Fifth Avenue, Neiman Marcus, Sephora—which paved the way for a new category in the prestige beauty arena.
Swank: What was the best business advice you ever received?
Fekkai: Ralph Lauren told me to focus on ‘timeless’ concepts and not to get too wrapped up in trends. Trends come and go, but creating classic and timeless styles will differentiate you.
Swank: What has been the biggest promotion or marketing event that turned out to be a bomb?
Fekkai: Mistakes are only a problem if you don’t learn from them.