Memo Exclusive: An Interview with Evolve President Sue Hanson
President and Co-founder of Evolve Hair Goods and Services, Sue Hanson
President and Co-founder of Evolve Hair Goods and Services, Sue Hanson understands the painful experience of hair loss. “At one point in my life, I had been sick so I knew what it was like to have your hair come out in handfuls,” Hanson says. “I also realized that there was not a wearable solution for women with hair loss on the top of their head.” For over six years, Hanson has overseen steady growth for a product and service that helps people with hair loss or thinning hair. MODERN SALON spoke with Hanson about how the Evolve Volumizer products are changing the lives of clients and their stylists.
MS: Please share a bit on your beauty background and the development of the Evolve Volumizer.
SH: My entire life has been in the industry as a stylist, salon and school owner, platform artist, and working in sales, marketing and education for major manufacturers. I was at a point where I wanted to slow down and retire when a friend called and said you have to take a look at a product that is being developed. To be honest, I said I would talk to them to be polite to my friend. But what I saw had me so excited and it’s been my passion for the past six years.
The Evolve Volumizer is a wearable solution to hair loss or thinning that uses 100 percent human hair attached to a hypoallergenic poly-mesh base. It’s light, comfortable and it molds to the head. We took about a year to really strengthen the system and then we did test marketing in salons with a group of hairdressers who form our Artistic Council.
We developed it to be something that would be so light and comfortable, they could wear it all day and night for up to four to five weeks at a time. We also wanted to make sure it did not cause any damage to the hair and that it did not use glues, adhesives, heat or anything that would cause sensitivity. Most of all, we wanted it to be undetectable and to look totally natural and we achieved these hallmarks.
MS: Who are your principals?
SH: Our CEO Lanny Scholes was interested in our company because her mother had suffered from hair loss and she knew firsthand how devastating it could be. She is a very successful business woman and she always wanted to have a company that allowed her to give back. We are very lucky to say she chose us.
Our other team members include Johnny Plant, artistic director, and Glenn Milliet, vice president of education.
MS: How’s business?
SH: We have had to work hard but we are growing very, very quickly. We consciously chose a more difficult road when we chose to sell direct and only sell the Volumizer to certified salons and stylists. It has really caught on and when stylists sees their client have a life-changing experience in their chair, they are really onboard.
In the beginning, we wanted to make sure that we were connecting directly with the salons because we know that the most important thing is how that client looks when she walks out the door. So from consultation to home maintenance, we wanted to see it was handled the same way by all the stylists who use our product. Consumers who contact us are referred to a salon and we make sure they are using our system because the system works. We built slowly but solidly in some of the best salons in the country.
MS: What role does education play in your business?
SH: Our entire company has been grown through education because we sell direct to salons. Our educators are phenomenal because they are all successful with the Volumizer in their own salons and people who have had our education have said it’s some of the best training they have ever had. We teach not just how to install but also consultation skills, haircutting techniques and business practices.
We do certification classes in major markets in the US. We provide a mannequin and stand and all the tools that are necessary. Once they are certified, they have a log-in to our site and access to videos, images, prepared ads, point-of-purchase materials, and more. When they leave us, they are ready to go back and do business.
MS: What does Evolve do for the salon?
SH: There hasn’t been that much new on the market that helped the stylist grow the service side of the business nor are there many ways for salons to increase their profit margin; the cost of doing business has grown while the prices they can charge has pretty much stayed the same. A Volumizer service can absolutely be a cash cow for a salon. The average Volumizer would cost the salon $529 and would be sold to the client and installed and cut for around $12, 000 to $15,000. This service can be done in 90 minutes to two hours and clients are back every four weeks to have it reinstalled. Many stylists work with an assistant so the time they are in their chair is very small compared to the amount they can charge.
Also, the savvy salons recognize the enormous population of younger people suffering from thinning or hair loss. There has always been wigs but there hasn’t been this type of product. We have found that the Volumizer clients are the most loyal clients. A woman who does not have a lot of hair does not spend a lot of money or come to a salon very often but once she has hair, she is open to everything. They get color, they become blow dry clients, and some clients even have two or three Volumizers just to change their texture. Every new Evolve customer is worth between $5, 000-$7,000 to the salon because they are excited to purchase appliances, brushes and products, again, now that they have hair.
MS: What is coming next from Evolve?
SH: The salons we do business with encouraged us to develop more products and because our niche is wearable solutions, we went into the extension business. At Premiere Orlando, we launched our Lollipops, one-and-a-half-inch strips in fantasy colors that stay true to our non-invasive, non-damaging philosophy. They go in with the speed and ease of the tape in with no glues or adhesives.
Our new Invisible Part Volumizer comes in right, left or center designs. It’s made of a translucent micro-polymer that gives the appearance of a healthy scalp and realistic part. Like our original Volumizer, it is hand-tied and contains 100% human hair with more hair for greater coverage.