Memo Exclusive: An Interview with CEO of Product Development for label.m USA

Sheree Ladove Funsch, CEO of her company, Miami-based LaDove, Inc, develops and produces innovative hair, body and skincare products. She is the formulator famous for many TIGI products including the industry-rocking TIGI Bed Head Hair Stick.  Today, in addition to her continuing work with La Dove, Inc, Ladove Funsch is the CEO of Product Development for label.m USA, the fashion-forward brand launched in 2005 by Toni Mascolo and his daughter, Sasha Mascolo-Tarbuch, the brand’s global creative director. LaDove Funsch now guides the brand in the US as it grows in awareness and distribution.

“My forté is developing professional products,” Ladove Funsch says. “When I partnered with Sasha and Toni, I knew they would do incredible education and creative campaigns while I could be that bridge between the artist and the chemist to develop products that perform for the hairdresser.”

Ladove Funsch is also building a bridge to Hollywood, as she has allied label.m with the Hollywood Beauty Awards for 2018.  We spoke to her about this new initiative, plus the many new things planned for the brand and beyond.

MS: You have been in the industry your whole life. Tell us about your beauty background.

SLF:  I grew up in the beauty business. My Dad had a company where he manufactured gallons of products for the big beauty supply stores and beauty distributors before retail was even available.  About 30 years ago, I got into the business.  At the time, there was no real retail and I saw a huge need.  I am a cosmetic formulator and I wanted to make products for hairdressers, proper tools to create amazing hair designs.  I had the pleasure of meeting The Mascolo Family, legends in this industry, and creating products for them and I realized how important it was to have a bridge between the hairdresser and the chemist because they don’t speak the same language. Because I was in the salons, with the stylists, and at the shows, I understood how products needed to perform, and I could translate that back into the lab and make it easy for a chemist to understand.  I found it super exciting to see that product come to life in the salons and on stage and in such a big way. It was bringing fashion into the industry and product was now more than just an everyday shampoo.

MS: How did label.m come about?

SLF: I have grown up with The Mascolos and have had such an incredible business and personal relationship with them. When Bedhead was sold, Toni and Sasha (his daughter) wanted to come out with a product line for the rest of the world but not the US so we started label m. Sasha is deeply involved with fashion—she is on the British Fashion Council—we wanted to bring that into the name so label, as in a fashion label, and m for Mascolo.  Fashion is part of the dna of the brand and we are the official haircare sponsor of London Fashion Week.

We are building our team of ambassadors here in the US but our education originates in London.  We have our top educators there and we want to keep that piece of our image consistent because it’s a real point of difference. Plus, we have all our networks set up in all the different markets, 65 countries, and the US was the last to be launched.  

MS: What kind of salon would be right for label m?

SLF: Label.m is such a young and fun line and it infuses the latest and greatest technologies into its formulas so we look for salons that are progressive and want something different. There have been so many acquisitions, recently, and the products are losing their connection to that entrepreneurial spirit. We want to preserve that personal touch and are looking for salons and stylists who feel the same and who want to be part of something bigger than a product line.

MS: We’ve been hearing a lot about a Diamond Dust Collection from label.m.

SLF: Yes, we’re so excited about it.  I had this crazy idea to find a way to get diamond dust into products and make it adhere to the hair…and I did!  We have exclusive rights to the diamond dust from one of the best diamond-cutting facilities in the world, located in Antwerp.

Our Diamond Dust Collection is shampoo, conditioner, leave-in and body lotions. The diamond dust has wonderful heat protection benefits, strengthening properties and shine. The leave-in is light years ahead of any other leave-ins I have developed. Since we have the exclusive rights these product can’t be duplicated.  We’ve just launched in the US and it is going crazy.

MS: You have also been launching another line, recently, Rikoko.  Can you tell us about it?

SLF: I’ve had the pleasure of partnering with Richy Kandasamy, technical director at TIGI Academy in New York, to develop and launch a new product that incorporates ingredients from his native Seychelles Islands. For years, he has been bringing ingredients from home back to his work, incorporating them into hair color, so he always has these secret recipes. He came and said I’d really like to find a way to share this.

We are using coconut oil that is exclusive to the Seychelle Islands and he has secured the only export license of this oil. Normally, coconuts are picked before they are ripe but we’re using fully-mature coconuts that are hand-gathered and the oil is extracted by hand, without the use of chemicals.  It’s extremely pure oil and the properties and benefits are amazing. He came out with a very user-friendly system of shampoo, conditioner, and color lock system. There is a take-home leave-in conditioner which is pigmented to enhance color tone.  It’s launching for in-salon and retail and we’re starting to get distribution.  The packaging is stunning, the product is equally fantastic. This is a line to watch.

MS: Tell us about the Hollywood Beauty Awards and label.m.

SLF: London Fashion Week is very quirky, cool and cutting-edge whereas New York Fashion Week is a bit more conservative.  So we are very committed to our association with London Fashion Week because it aligns so well with our brand and our philosophy.  But as we continue to build awareness for the brand in the US, we’re aware that celebrity is what drives interest in this market.  The Hollywood Beauty Awards (HBA) recognize the finest hair, makeup, photography and styling talent in the film, television and music industries, as well as those artists who beautify the red carpet celebrities.  HBA brings all the glamour and sophistication of Hollywood together during its awards gala and we are so pleased to be their haircare sponsor for 2018.

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