In an industry filled with colorful personalities, George Schaeffer, founder of global nailcare brand OPI and the president of Aloxxi Haircolor, stands out. He moved from nail color to hair color when he acquired Aloxxi and MODERN SALON asked Schaeffer to talk about that transition and to share an Aloxxi update.
MS: Just as you elevated manicurists and their perception in the beauty industry, you are elevating the art of the colorist. How are you doing that?
GS: Right now there is a lot of corporate consolidation within the Professional Beauty Industry, especially on the manufacturing side. In response, we are seeing a new crop of entrepreneurs that are committed to the individual salon businesses, beauty professionals and their clients on the ground level. This burst of entrepreneurialism will usher in the next generation of this industry and we are committed to fostering it.
We spend a lot of time listening to our customers and the consumers they serve to better understand current trends and gaps in the market. We use that information to seek out new technologies and create innovative new products that will then meet the needs of both stylists and their clients.
And of course our unique approach to the hair color experience with our Color Personalities sets us apart. By showing clients the endless color options and demystifying the color process for the client we are helping to strengthen the relationship. Today’s consumer is interested in facts. Telling the client what is being used on their hair is a critical component in building a strong relationship between colorist and client. I think of it like cooking, you not only need great ingredients, but also a great chef. My goal is to help clients understand the power of not just our product, but of the professional hairdresser.
MS: What was your perception about the hair and haircolor segment of professional beauty before Aloxxi? And what have you learned about that business, since?
GS: When it comes to hair and nail color, for the most part people are looking for the same thing—high quality, long-lasting color. With both being such an integral part of fashion I thought that was enough. But there is so much more! The education required to truly deliver standout color results is a mammoth undertaking. But I think more than anything, it is important to remember that no two salons are the same. No two hairdressers are the same. Each has different needs to be met and our goal is to address them head on so we can make a significant impact in their business.
I believe in the Color Personality concept for the same reason I believed in the power of knowing the brand and the color on their nails; it allows the client to be knowledgeable and invested in their service. Knowing your Color Personality creates brand loyalty, not just to the product but to the salon that provides the service. For the hairdresser, informing the customer of what their Color Personality is and having them ask for it only strengthens the relationship. It also enables us to drive customers to Aloxxi salons through our advertising, public relations and social media campaigns; we are committed to helping salons increase their business.
MS: How are you overcoming colorist’s hesitation, even fear, about trying a new brand?
GS: Change is hard; it takes you out of your comfort zone. Changing one’s hair color isn’t as simple as changing one’s polish. One of the biggest challenges has been getting hairdressers to take a chance on something new. They don’t want to risk disappointing their customers so they tend to stick to what they know. We have had to adapt to that reluctance to change. It is why we are investing so heavily in education. Our focus has been on making stylists comfortable with changing their clients’ color so that change is fun, easy, and inspiring. When you give people the tools they need, change becomes an opportunity to grow, professionally and financially. With our strategic education approach we are creating a unique experience for both the salon and hairdresser. This allows us to be true partners in their success.
MS: What qualities did you look for in the people you hired as you were assembling your Aloxxi team?
GS: Aloxxi is all about the 5 Fs: Fashion, Food, Family and a Fun Future. Beyond experience and a particular skill set we looked for people with the right attitude, that exude a passion for what they do and that could simply join our family and without drama.
MS: As you reflect on your years in the professional beauty industry, of what are you most proud?
GS: It goes without saying that I am proud of creating the worldwide brand that is OPI. From it I have reputation that I am proud of. It is something money can’t buy. That said, in this moment I am proud that Aloxxi has taken on the challenge of introducing the Color Personality concept to the world and are working to make a difference in the industry by demonstrating the power of branding a color, by working with salons to meet their needs and empowering both the hairdresser and their client with information. But I haven’t gotten here alone. I am so proud of the teams I have worked with over the years in the Professional Beauty Industry and the team I get to work with today at Aloxxi.
MS: And finally, what have we not asked you but you feel is really important for readers to understand about Aloxxi?
GS: I would say the same thing to hairdressers that I said to manicurists, take a chance on us, you won’t regret it!