Modern Exclusive: Cotê Hair Stays Close to the Hairdresser and Small by Design
“I’ve always said that sales and marketing can sell the product the first time and performance has to sell it the second time and thereon out. If it doesn’t’ perform, people are not going to keep buying it.” Brent Golden
As President and CEO of Cotê Hair, Brent Golden steers this emerging brand which features the Cotê Hybrid Collection of multi-benefit products. By keeping the offerings small and their distribution exclusive, Golden and his team (Ira Sage, director of art; Butch Cote, director of education and Bill O’Brien, investor and manufacturer of tools) want to contribute to a salon’s success, not just their inventory. At America’s Beauty Show (ABS) in Chicago, MODERN SALON caught up with Golden after a very successful show experience.
MS: Please share a bit on your beauty background.
BG: I was a finance and economics major and having an understanding of the economies of business has influenced my whole career. I started in beauty when I joined a small Paul Mitchell distributorship as a sales consultant in the Midwest. During this time, I opened a salon, an experience that helped me understand what salons need to succeed. After five years, I was recruited by Paul Mitchell and was eventually promoted to vice president of sales, which I did for 15 years until last year, when I left to focus on a company I had created in 2006, The Source International, which makes tools and also cosmetology kits for schools, and to get involved in supporting startup companies, helping them get off the ground.
MS: How did you come to work with Cotê Hair?
BG: Butch Cotê was my hairdresser and he would ask me questions about the industry, especially about manufacturers and about why they didn’t provide product he would really want to use in his work. I said, ‘why don’t you do your own product line?’ and he started formulating products. The average hairdresser only reaches for four or five products. Cotê is a hybrid line of eight products that will do more than one thing while offering great performance and a formula that is vegan and plant-based. I’ve always said that sales and marketing can sell the product the first time and performance has to sell it the second time and thereon out. If it doesn’t perform people are not going to keep buying it.
MS: What do you mean by “Do more with less”?
BG: Salon inventories have been growing and growing over the last 20 years but sales aren’t growing. If we’re just building up distributor’s inventories with more salon products, we’re not serving them correctly.
Before the advent of the iPhone, I had a phone, a day planner, I had a camera, a recorder, a camcorder, but now I just need one device. Technology has improved in hair care, too. You don’t need five shampoos. You can have fewer, high-performing products and cocktail them to get what you need.
MS: How are you reaching the hairdresser?
BG: As a company we have a range of education, everything from understanding and teaching to multiple intelligences, to culture building, to the six economies of the salon. We teach in a way that helps build culture, is geared to how our audience learns and processes information, and helps build confidence and self-esteem. We have so much great content and post a new educational video every Sunday.
We just opened our Hair and Art Studio, located next to Cotê headquarters in Las Vegas. Our Cotê team, Butch, Ira and Amber, are three busy, successful hairdressers who didn’t need a high-traffic area because their books are full but in the studio they can both serve their clients while also doing education and development. It’s a full-functioning salon and it’s also an art studio with a photo studio attached. We felt we needed it to bring everything together cohesively.
MS: What do you mean by “performance powered by plants”?
BG: Our number one goal was performance but we are also very aware about consumer and professional concerns around the ingredients we put on and in our bodies. We focus on plant-derived performance. Our CH Complex is enhanced with argan oil, panthenol, sunflower seed oil, grape seed oil, hydrolyzed quinoa protein, corn protein and conditioners. There are no animal by-products in the formulas, no gluten, paraben, GMOs, no sodium lauryl sulfate; we are vegan but we don’t emphasize that, first. Performance is first.
MS: How are you distributed?
BG: We are using some independent distributors and some direct sales people and building our distribution base. We want to support the independent salons and hairdresser. We expect to have a mass appeal but with exclusive distribution in salons.
MS: How was your time at ABS?
BG: It was amazing. We created so much buzz and there were so many positive comments. We had people coming up to us and ask, ‘who branded this, are you a spinoff from a legacy company?’ We don’t broker anything out, even packaging. We even fill our own bottles with our custom formulas.
Ultimately, everything we have—our experience as educators, hairdressers, distributors, and our time in schools, in salons, in sales, marketing and manufacturing—has come together in this company. Experience, knowledge and skills have created Cotê.