Memo Interview: New General Manager of Pravana, Michelle Chandler

On Nov. 1, 2017, Michelle Chandler succeeded President and Founder Steve Goddard as the new General Manager of Pravana. Henkel acquired the hair color company earlier this year and Chandler will lead Pravana into its new chapter under Henkel Beauty Care.

 Having been with the brand since its early beginnings, Chandler is passionate about preserving Pravana’s legacy and building on its dynamic, entrepreneurial spirit.   

“I’ve spent a third of my life with Pravana,” Chandler says. “I’ve grown up here, gotten married, and had two kids during my time with Pravana. I have a very special relationship with this brand. I bleed Pravana purple.”

 MODERN sat with Chandler to talk about this shift to a parent company and her perspective on the future of Pravana.

MS: Share a bit of your beauty background and your start with Pravana.

MC:  Right out of college, I was recruited by a local beauty supply. The owner, Jack, asked if I would like to help him predict trends and work with hair and makeup, every day. To me, it sounded like a dream come true. I started as a buyer, where I learned so much about distribution and the relationship with the manufacturer, and about how to shape a vision and create a message for products being offered to salons.

When I met Steve Goddard (the founder of Pravana), he had one small pocket of distribution in the Pacific Northwest and was getting ready to launch in State Beauty Supply. He asked if I’d like to help get Pravana off the ground. As the interest in our brand grew I was fortunate to grow with it, moving from sales manager to eventually becoming senior vice president of sales and education.

MS: What do you look forward to in the near future, as you transition to be part of the Henkel Beauty Care group?

MC: For me it’s about leading the brand in the same spirit it was led before me. It’s showing the world that Pravana’s DNA is strong and that through our transition, this brand is going to thrive and maintain what made us special—pure passion and a powerful commitment to the salon community. We have always done business with transparency, honesty, and integrity. I want to keep our team’s passion and interest alive as we evolve to be even better and stronger.

MS: Part of that DNA you mentioned has been a keen focus on innovation.  Can you talk about that?

MC:  Innovation is where you take the impossible and make it possible. It’s part of who we are and how we approach everything we do. We ask, what’s going on in a hairdresser’s everyday life? What is boring them, what is challenging them, what process is taking too long (knowing time is money)? Then we set out to solve their problems, to make them smile, to help them profit. We created a game changer in the Blonde Wand, which expedites the lightening process and helps maintain the integrity of the hair. And also with Pravana Vivids Mood Color, the industry’s first heat-activated temporary hair color that transforms hair with a color-changing effect. Stylists just add heat and watch the transition happen, instantly.

This service to the stylist, keeping them at the front of all we do, always giving them something to be excited about and to share with their client, is what you’ll continue to see from us, moving forward.

MS: At Henkel in Los Angeles, you’ll be under the same roof with a number of other hair care and color brands. What will that look like?

MC: At every turn of this integration process, I have been reassured that this is absolutely the right next step for us. Henkel has been very mindful of where each brand fits in their portfolio and they have encouraged us to own our identity. The positioning, brand image, and marketing of each brand is different and unique and will stay that way.  Our team is separate and sovereign, and we’ll all maintain our own standards and metrics of success. The headquarters are breathtaking with neighborhoods for each brand. I look forward to being under one roof and sharing with the other teams. Henkel has carved out a path for everyone to really thrive.

MS: You helped launch a category of creative color when you introduced your Vivids. What has happened since you first introduced these colors?

MC: We launched ten colors in 2004 and we now have 34 to choose from. At the time, it wasn’t mainstream and only a small niche of hairdressers were receptive. Today, it’s exciting to know we have driven a service that can be so personalized and allows the colorist to express their artistry. 

We have new market entries every day and this launched us to a new level because healthy competition pushes you to be better. Even when people use the word “vivids” to describe another line, it promotes our brand because that is the word on our box.

We continue to be mindful of price point because we want to enrich the salon professional; they give our world beauty and we want to give them a good feeling, going home, knowing they are succeeding.

Coming soon, you’ll see innovation in action as we reestablish why we are the market leaders in creative color.

MS: Final words?

MC: We do epic things with a small core group of people. The culture Steve created here is so unique and special, it’s not just a work environment for us, it’s a home. Steve has given us confidence by trusting us. This has been a natural progression and our brand has never had a bigger platform from which to speak. We are really ready for the adventure and the challenge ahead.

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