It was a special day for the beauty press as we all had a chance to meet privately with key members of the Wella team. Journalists, reporters and editors were escorted to the press area which was peppered with white pods that looked like igloos. Each pod represented the "room" hosting a key member of Wella, with his or her name at the entrance. These pods were oddly cozy and quiet and offered a comfortable interview setting with room for up to ten people. Although we were offered just 15 minutes with just a handful of the Wella execs, I was able to score interviews with four of my favorite people. Here are some snippets:
ADIL MEHBOOB-KHAN, President, Wella
Handsome and eloquent, Mehboob-Khan was eager to answer my question about the new name for the umbrella company...WELLA. (Up until recently, the salon division of P&G was known as P&G Salon Professionals.)
"When I started everyone had a relationship with Wella as if it was a person," he said. "We needed an umbrella concept. The company, which started in Germany, was quite innovative in color. It caught fire on its own. When I hear 'Wella is back', I am shocked. It's not a nostalgia trip...it's not that we've gone anywhere! Using the name Wella as an umbrella for all of our professional brands: Wella Professionals, Nioxin, Clairol, Sebastian, SP [a European line]...just makes sense.
"Our portfolio is king," Mehboob-Khan continued. "When a salon uses our portfolio, it thrives. When asked about how to increase business, in addition to using the Wella portfolio, it's important to start the conversation with numbers and to see which products and services really do raise revenue.
"Education is equally important. We must all attend events and go after tailored solutions. Retail should be at a minimum 10 - 20%. Owners must learn how to run their businesses well, and Wella is there to help them."
KEVIN OTERO, Wella COO
Wella products can be found all over the world and Kevin Otero oversees all the countries that carry any of the lines under the Wella umbrella. While I expected him to be neutral (Of course I don't have a favorite child!), the Otero response when I entered the room jokingly asking "So why is the US your favorite?" was a true surprise. "Well, the US is my favorite," he said. "It is where I was when I entered the business in 2006. I remember like yesterday going to the Chicago show. It was overwhelming. Now I oversee globally, and its interesting to see how different continents serve differently. In Europe, Wella has a huge range of shades. In North America we were huge in care and styling. We've learned from each other and now we are offering more color in North America and more Care and Styling, like Nioxin, in Europe.