Rocky Rumpel brings more than 18 years of beauty industry experience to his new role as president of ÄZ (pronounced “oz”) Craft Luxury Haircare. Every detail of the brand messaging -- from the way it’s positioned with the distributor to the way it is introduced to the hairdresser -- will have Rumpel’s involvement. His understanding of beauty industry business trends, alongside knowing what hairdressers need to be successful, informs this process; his focus is on providing the stylist with artistic education that builds competence, confidence and consistency in their cuts and in themselves as artists.
“Our brand is as individual as the individuals we serve,” Rumpel comments. “It took founder Rodger Azadganian two years to develop the packaging, formulas and fragrance. That’s a powerful statement that emphasizes our level of commitment to providing the hairdresser with a luxurious product they will be proud to use. We are obsessed with elevating the industry and helping the hairdresser own their craft which, as a result, will enhance the client experience.”
Rumpel will be mapping out the strategic initiatives of the brand on a global scale as it prepares to launch in first half 2020. Rumpel says the line will be supported with craft education courses that allow hairdressers to elevate their cutting technique in an effort to maximize brand exposure for salons and hairdressers who carry ÄZ Craft Luxury Haircare. An education team led by Creative Director Jeremy Davies-Barbala and brand ambassadors will be essential parts of its growth as it expands its reach across the nation.
We spoke with Rumpel to better understand this thoughtful approach to both introducing the line to the market and to taking the hairdresser along with them in the process.
MODERN SALON: You’ve taken your time and been very deliberate in preparing the line for introduction to the market—can you briefly describe the process?
ROCKY RUMPEL: Our founder Rodger Azadganian didn’t want to produce just another wet line. The process took more than two years to develop and included the right packaging and formulas that are free from fillers. We’ve taken this same approach to choosing our business partners and channels to sell in.
MS: You’ve used the term “foundational brand” to describe AZ Craft Luxury Haircare —what does that mean to you?
RR: Our industry was defined -- and arguably created -- by the hairdresser’s ability to understand lines, layers and graduation. This created a very specific craft and defined the industry as we know it. The hair color shift over the last decade has left a tremendous desire from the hairdressing community for haircutting inspiration and technique. We not only fill that need but truly teach how create and recreate any look your client wants. Things are not always being taught that way—to replicate a look when a client returns—and that is a pitfall. Our three-step system will be building on skills along the way so that by Course Three, they will be learning how to do an editorial shoot and will have achieved a level of mastery.
MS: You did a soft launch a few months ago—what did you learn from that experience?
RR: It was sensational. It was strictly word of mouth, gave a sneak peek as to what we are doing as a brand, and allowed us to set the stage for our launch strategy. The venue, creativity and interaction between top industry talent was exactly what the community wanted. The hairdressers’ response to the packaging and performance of the products following the event was exciting. There are no corners being cut; we want to do the right things for the right reason and then the right things happen. We plan to launch the brand globally in 2020.
MS: What is going to be your distribution strategy?
RR: We are thinking in a global context. Hair is a universal language we all can understand and benefit from. In choosing our partners, they need to possess the same passion for the industry and craft we have. Clients are savvy, and they want to be a part of something bigger that has a cause behind it. Our cause is very clear, and we are investing into future talent to carry on the craft. We want to roll out in a context where we can build, have success and then look at the next opportunity down the road.
MS: Was your focus of bringing haircutting and the craft of cutting already in place before you aligned with Jeremy or has he really helped shape that focus?
RR: Yes, both Rodger and Jeremy have been extremely successful in their careers working with celebrities, doing editorial work and educating others. I see my responsibility largely to bring the brand to life through their passion, artistry and creativity in an effort to move the industry forward.
MS: As you invest in your communication channels, what is the message you want hairdresser to take away about the brand?
RR: Our brand is as individual as the individuals we serve. We are craft products designed for the hairdressing community dedicated to the craft of hairdressing. When your why is bigger than your what, the right things happen.
ÄZ Craft Luxury Haircare elevates industry standards by providing the best beauty products without compromise. The color-safe formulation is free from sodium chloride, parabens and sulfates, imparting healthy, shiny and frizz-free hair. The brand’s eye-catching packaging and concise line of 13 SKUs appeals to the discerning hairdresser who aims to inspire creativity while fueling their passion for their profession with a nod to the rich history it has evolved from over the years. For more information, please visit azhaircare.com.