Doreen Guarneri, stylist, educator and co-founder of American Culture, knew from day one there was only one thing she wanted to do—and that was to be a hairdresser. “As far back as I can remember, I created hair styles and make-up on my dolls and I accompanied my mother to the salon,” she says.
Creating a Partnership
Guarneri met her husband and business partner Louis Guarneri at age 13. Louis’ parents were both hairdressers and they owned a small beauty products distributorship. Doreen loved the proximity to salons and hairdressers and she happily helped with cleaning and stocking shelves just to soak up the beauty industry atmosphere. Louis’ parents were early Matrix distributors and, Guarneri was lucky to meet Matrix founders Arnie and Sydell Miller. If she needed any more inspiration to join the beauty industry, encountering the Millers provided it “mind, body and soul,” she says.
When Guarneri was 17 and still in high school, she enrolled in beauty school. Louis attended cosmetology school, as well, to learn the salon industry business and, at the incredibly young age of 18, they launched their own small distribution company— Salon Source. They worked hard, lived frugally and managed to make a living, and then got a big break.
“We were Scruples distributors from 1989 until 2000 because Scruples co-founders Frank Liguori and Jack Storey believed in us,” says Guarneri. “They gave us a chance and we put 100 percent into our business. We added lines, hired a sales force and developed an education team.”
The Next Level In 2000 Doreen and Louis re-set their focus on the next level—becoming manufacturers and developing the American Culture brand. At a beauty show where all the hype was about keratin smoothing products, Guarneri learned more about the pros and cons of these systems and, building on that knowledge, developed Simply Smooth, which “put us on the map,” she says. The move into manufacturing gave Guarneri two more hats to wear: teacher and product developer.