Memo Exclusive: An Interview with Lina Kennedy, President of Alexandria Professional Body Sugaring
Lina Kennedy is sweet on sugaring. The president of Alexandria Professional Body Sugaring has been a staunch advocate of this ancient method of hair removal and her company’s growth and performance reflects these efforts. “I didn’t bring sugaring to the marketplace, but I took a company with very low sales and turned it into a multimillion dollar company because I am so passionate about it,” she says.
Kennedy started working with Alexandria Professional in the early 1990s and then acquired the company in 1995. She is currently working on a book she is calling “Sweet Revolution” that shares the story of how her personal and professional life perfectly intersected. Kennedy spoke with MODERN about the smooth moves she has made to get ahead.
MS: Please share a bit on the history of sugaring for hair removal.
LK: With threading and sugaring, we’re talking about very old methods of depilation, treatments we associate with the Egyptians and Cleopatra. But in the professional beauty world, sugaring never realized its full potential because it was messy, it’s difficult to create a reliable formulation and there was zero understanding of what you can do with this kind of product. So waxing was the preferred method until now, with Alexandria Professional. The most important advantage is very fundamental: the Alexandria technique and sugar paste formulation extracts the hair in its natural direction of growth while the hair is still in the early growth (Anagen) stage. This eliminates hair breakage, unnecessary discomfort, irritation and ingrown hairs while exfoliating the skin.
MS: What has changed with Alexandria Professional since the 1990s?
LK: When I joined Alexandria Professional, they didn’t have the methodology and the products needed to be cleaned-up. Using the analogy of cooking, when you prepare a great meal, you have to start with the very best ingredients. When we produce our products, we are using only the highest quality raw materials. Today, we are one hundred percent vegan. We removed beeswax, a very common ingredient in cosmetics, knowing that bees are endangered.
Because I had been doing business in Europe, I was paraben-free, urea-free long before it became the trendy thing to do. I wasn’t hyping it because I just thought it was the right way to do a good formulation.
We’ve also worked at changing the perception of sugaring. With Alexandria Professional, we can improve the skin’s integrity, not just remove unwanted hair. Our skin exposes everything and speaks volumes about who we are and about our health. We address so many conditions and challenges and we can affect real change.
I created a methodology by practicing on myself, over and over, until I had perfected the technique. Our methods requires ongoing educational support; we don’t treat professional sugaring like waxing. It’s imperative that a professional understand what they’re doing and how to use all the products properly.
MS: Where do you see the most potential for growth?
LK: There are so many countries that are just eating us up, and that love sugaring. Russia and Lithuania, I love doing business there because everyone is so well educated and the logic of this approach resonates with them.
25 years ago, everyone laughed at me but this is not going away. We’re in 38 countries, I’m negotiating with three more, and we will continue to grow every year in every single country we have positioned ourselves.
MK: What trade shows do you attend and what happens at the Alexandria booth during a show?
LK: Any show we ever do, we are smashing. As long as we are demonstrating we are packed. We also do events at our academies, one in Buffalo, NY and one in St. Catharine’s, Ontario. We have ongoing education there and lots of opportunity to interact with the brand.
We’re very strong in and very connected to schools in America because they have what we need--education. They love us and we work with wonderful school directors, teachers and students.
MS: With the boom in men’s grooming, have you seen that reflected in an upsurge in sugaring services?
LK: Yes, there has been a huge increase. We just did a video for our YouTube series, ‘Sweet Talk Around the Sugar Pot’ about manscaping. For a salon, the facial service of cleaning up the beard and neck area to make it less itchy and more detailed could open up a great source of revenue. It can add an additional $30 to $50 to every haircut service ticket. Sugaring is fast, easy, clean and when it is done often enough, it will slow down the growth of the hair, permanently. We do a huge bikini business for men, too, everywhere. All of our practitioners have learned how to master the male client.
MS: Final words?
LK: If a salon or a distributor is planning to take in a brand of professional sugaring they have to be ready to dedicate a team or they will lose their investment. It might run its target but then it will drop. If they come to us, they win. At the end of the day, we have to help the salons stay in business by making sure they are so good at what they do and the clients want to keep doing business with them. It’s a simple game of integrity.