As part of SALON TODAY's coverage of leadership types and analytical and creative thinkers, we asked our sponsers to explore their business history, management style and what they attribute to the company's success.

Faces of Leadership
Howard Gurock and Jeff Gasman
Eco-Lite Products, LLC

SALON TODAY: Howard, how did you and Jeff become involved in Eco-Lite?
HOWARD GUROCK: Jeff and I have been friends since childhood and always wanted to own a company together. Several years ago, Jeff sold his Independent Network radio company after having built it into the fourth largest in the country. At that time, I was a partner in a NY law firm in charge of the litigation department. Jeff wanted to find a business to purchase as he was too young to sit at home and do nothing and he approached me about buying a lighting manufacturing company with him that had been in business almost 25 years. I decided that after 20 years of being a trial lawyer I could use a change. So we purchased the company, which at the time was the leading provider of lighting to independent jewelry stores and had developed an expertise in creating specialty lighting. We purchased the company, relocated it to a larger and more modern facility and began to work with leading electrical engineers to expand our product line and to create new, energy-efficient lighting that was color perfect.

ST: What do you attribute to Eco Lite’s success?
HG: Our success comes mainly through hard work, providing exemplary customer service, our expertise in identifying lighting issues and creating solutions to those issues, and our unyielding commitment to quality in all of the fixtures we produce. We also attribute our success to associating with the top minds in lighting and engineering where our ability to create color perfect lighting—for everything from illuminating hair to clothing and to the finest diamonds and jewels— becomes refined. Our success comes from our knowledge of various lighting technologies and the ability to work with architects, designers and electrical contractors in evaluating plans and assisting in the lighting design. Our lighting professionals work directly with owners to help them understand the practical effect of lighting on different surfaces and translate that expertise into making recommendations for correct lighting.

ST: What was the best business decision of your career?
HG: The best decision we have made in our career in the lighting industry has been our decision to focus on energy- efficient lighting technologies with a special focus on creating color perfect lighting. We have several new energy efficient lights in various stages of development. These new lights have been designed pursuant to our exclusive relationships with professionals who have PhDs in optics, engineers with expertise in light color technology and engineers with particular expertise in heat management. The result is energy-efficient lighting that is long-lasting, delivers ideal color while emitting little to no heat.

ST: Where do they see the company growing next?
HG: We see our growth in the salon industry and retail markets continuing. We also see a natural transition from business/commercial use to residential use. With some minor modifications we will be able to offer, for example, our color perfect lighting that is used in hundreds of salons to the home so  women and men can do their hair and get ready each morning under the proper light.

Faces of Leadership
Oribe, Daniel Kaner and Tev Finger
Oribe hair care

The Oribe story: After working together as partners at Bumble and bumble more than a decade, both Daniel and Tev took a year off. Tev recharged by travelling the world. Daniel spent time with his family. One night, a year later over dinner in New York, Sonia, a prominent make-up artist, and a dear friend, said "why don't you guys do something with Oribe" and it was as if the light bulbs just went off. Oribe was a legend, and there was trust because Sonia knew him so well. In January of 2008, after meeting with Oribe, Tev and Daniel knew it would be an honor to work with such a talented and humble person. The prospect of  working together again was a very enticing thought given that they knew they work together so well.

ST: What do you attribute to Oribe's success as a brand and product line?
Daniel Kaner: The timing. It couldn’t be better … the industry has become too one-sided in perspective… every once in a while the world is open to hearing something different, something new, said completely differently … and that is now. Oribe has that fresh outlook, and it is being received really well. From a line perspective … quality … without question. These products perform differently; they are sheer and also robust in their performance. It’s a different standard of product and the stylists, as well as the consumers, see it.

Tev Finger: Our success is actually one that has been going for a long time now. Oribe has been doing his thing for 30 years and is a brand all to himself. All his shows, all his editorial, all his advertising, all his covers—all culminate in this super high-performance line coupled with a unique, inspiration-based education program. When you bring all of this together with passionate people, magic happens. All of our employees and partners work for a cause.

DK: Oribe is an extraordinary educator and a people person; the industry has never seen anyone like him. Actually, forget the industry—the traits he embodies are well-received by anyone. Humble, polite, upbeat and gracious—it’s not about making people wrong, it’s about making people do right. Everyone adores him and his educational team, they give it all, and the audience see’s it. In my 25 years in the industry, I have never seen anything like it. Oribe stresses the need for plurality in training, multiple techniques; you can’t have enough experience or know enough techniques. Oribe regularly cites peers he admires, which is a new concept. Christiaan, the great Dutch hairdresser, has given Oribe credit in the last W magazine and on the cover of Elle. I think Oribe is bigger than a hair care product or an education team. I’s a standard of elegance, respect and joy—that’s what people experience, that’s what keeps them wanting it.

ST: What was the best business decision of your career?
TF: The best business decision of my career was to go into the beauty business at 18 years old while taking a year off to think about what college to go to. My second best decision was working on projects I was passionate about and truly believe in—deep into my bones. The road from passion to success is a very short one.

DK: I have had a wonderful career; I have had the good fortune to be in the early stages of some great brands. Each brand I have been fortunate enough to be a part of has given me something invaluable—experience—that experience has shaped my thoughts and helped me to understand the dynamics of my business better. One of the best decisions I have made was to continue to surround myself with the super-talented people I have met through decades of working in this industry. The same people I respected 10 years ago are the people I have the good fortune to work with on a daily basis. Tev Finger, Moss Kadey, Jonathan Sharp, Todd Hildum and Daniel Langer—we all worked together previously and are so familiar with each other and enjoy each other’s company. And, of course Oribe, who is a pleasure and a blessing. It is just an extraordinary group of people; and we continue to hire up. I must say, this is the most talented group of people I have ever worked with.

ST: Where do you see the company growing next?
TF: I believe we are going to totally and utterly change the way salons get —and value—inspiration and education ...  especially when it comes to using technology ... and some secret surprises soon to be unveiled. If we can inspire one salon a day to be better and reach higher than our jobs are not even jobs—but a walk in the park. We hope to be a tide that takes the hair world to new frontiers. For now, it’s about having salon pioneers join us. Ones that are ready for change and willing to take risks to be the best!

DK: Well …  without tipping our hand, I think you will see something very different happening with our company; the industry and the world is changing, and we want to help guide it. They say if you continually do the same thing, your results can be predicted. We know what everyone else is doing and where that will lead; so, as a new company it’s nice to go in any direction we want—unencumbered by history or past beliefs. All I can ask is for you to be a part of our future.

Faces of Leadership

Todd Shea
Director of Marketing
Aware Personalized Brandi

ST: What is your story about how you got involved in Aware?
Todd Shea: After moving out of the industry for a couple of years to take a high-level position at a leading website company, I realized my passion for success really involved the beauty industry. When a position for a copywriter and project manager became available at Aware, I jumped on the opportunity to put my extensive cosmetic sales experience from Estee Lauder/Aramis Fine Fragrances and my journalism degree to work. The position was a dramatic step down, but I knew that with hard work I would reach a similar level and be working in the industry that I loved. Within a little more than two years, I was named the Director of Marketing for Aware Personalized Branding.

ST: What do you attribute to Aware's success?
TS: Aware is renowned for industry leading research and development of formulas and providing innovative retail concepts.

ST: What was the best business decision of your career?
TS: Stepping down in position seniority to move from sales in an industry I wasn’t that passionate about into a marketing and product development position in the beauty industry.

ST: Where do you see Aware growing next?
I see Aware Personalized Branding becoming a powerhouse in the salon industry based on our extensive formula- development experience, revolutionary retail concepts and extensive salon support program, Club Aware.

Faces of LeadershipMike Kim

The Izunami story: Founder and CEO Mike Kim scanned the marketplace and then set out to create a superior tool.
With the creation of IZUNAMI in 2008, Kim has introduced a company and a line of tools that care about the hair stylist and their work. "This is why we decided to put our efforts into giving stylists the highest quality, top-performing, professional tools," Kim says. "We pay attention to every detail and are obsessed with creating the best tools.

ST: What are some of your biggest challenges?
Mike Kim: My biggest challenge has been trying to educate stylists of the importance of consistent temperature without overheating. I am concerned about the commonly ill-advised recommendation for extremely high heat. At Izunami, our first priority is to protect the integrity of hair. Recently, many professionals seem to have chosen convenience over integrity. High temperature, 450 Fahrenheit for example, makes flatironing faster, but it is with a great risk of heat-damaging hair. Because the temperature drops during styling, some manufacturers choose to set the temperature above the safe range (400 degrees Fahrenheit).

ST: What is your 10-year goal?
MK: Izunami was founded to serve the prestige salons. It's interesting how everyone builds a brand and immediately compromises on quality in order to go to the general market. We want to stay in the prestige sector. We want to continue to improve and add appliance product line within the prestige division. Today's appliances, including ours, have so much room to improve in quality. We want to make the professional stylists' job easier, and clients' hair healthier. Ten years from now, I want to be able to say, “Our products have become the standard among the conscientious hair stylists.”

ST: What are some technical advances that differentiate Izunami?
MK: Besides having the effortlessly gliding plates and quick heating speed, I would like to bring your attention to our REQD technology. The most important characteristic of a good flatiron is the consistency of temperature. REQD stands for Rapid Engagement and Quick Disengagement. Our heat sensor resets the temperature five times a second. It prevents overheating and quickly recovers heat when necessary. The temperature fluctuation of our iron during styling is the smallest in the industry.

Faces of Leadership
Paul Tate
CEO –North America
Shortcuts Salon & Spa Software

The Shortcuts story: Although Paul Tate grew up in the hair business, with his father working for Wella for most of his career, Paul never really planned to end up back in it!  Paul originally owned a software company in the United Kingdom that provided solutions to dry cleaners and then eventually hair salons. Paul’s company began to distribute Shortcuts in the Irish UK in 2002 with a focus on sales, marketing, education and support as opposed to product development, which still came from Shortcuts Software. Within three years, seven of the 10 major chains in the Irish UK along with some of the country’s most prestigious brands—such as Francesco’s, hob salons, John Frieda and Saks Hair and Beauty along with many several other salons and spas—were using Shortcuts Software. Paul’s company was purchased by Shortcuts in early 2005.

ST: What do you attribute to Shortcuts' success?
Paul Tate: Great software, excellent people and fantastic opportunities! Shortcuts has strived so hard to engage salons with technology and our remains on the people using the software as the way of making technology successful in the industry.

ST: What was the best business decision of your career?
PT: From a personal perspective moving to North America was the best career decision; it provided far greater depth to his knowledge of the industry.  From a corporate perspective, his best business decision has been to bring forward Shortcuts’ online marketing tools to help clients drive more new clients, drive frequency of visit and average bills.

ST: Where do you see Shortcuts growing next?
PT: The next generation software system will be more than just a system to record sales and take appointments; it will be an extension of doing business within the digital economy.  Shortcuts will assist businesses in their marketing by connecting them with their customers, employees, and suppliers and peers through various mediums, such as Facebook. As a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, Shortcuts will be taking full advantage of all of the new technology that comes our way and even more so with the touch screen user interface that has made Shortcuts so successful.

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