Howard McLaren, R+Co
Which product didn't do as well as you expected? What did you learn from that experience?
The original Continental Wax didn't do as well. Wax is very difficult for the consumer. We had to make a product that is easier to use and had more functionality. I really took the time to study the market and focused on the feedback from the consumer. We had to adjust it to be more consumer-friendly, and that meant a wax with more hold, less grease. If a product is not working, it's important to scrap it completely and start over. For us, it was about upgrading ingredients and performance to create a product that our consumers could understand and use in their own styling routines. Brand quality is number one, always. We had to make sure the product was up to par with what our consumer expects from the R+Co brand.
Tell us one unexpected way you use a cult product.
My favorite is to use our Vicious Strong Hold Flexible Hairspray to get rid of static. It's great for slips or any materials prone to static. Of course, static pops up while we're actually wearing the garment, so what I say to do is just lift the garment and spray it from underneath, maybe 12 to 14 inches away. This way, it still makes contact and gets the job done, but it's not too sticky.
What is your best advice to someone trying to break into the beauty industry in 2016?
First and foremost, get your history in order! You have to know what happened 100 years ago, 50 years ago, and so on. And not just time period — but also different countries. What the trends in the 1980s were in America vs. Britain are very different things. Now that we are moving at such a fast pace because of social media, the trends change and they change fast. You could be going through three different time periods in one year. You have to really understand and do your research so that you can have those conversations that allow you to bring something to the table. Knowledge is power in the industry, and it's so easy: you can just google now to get the information you need!
Create achievable goals. Start with small, achievable goals that allow you to eventually build up to your overall goal. Break it down, step by step to make it more achievable as you go along. Decide your role in this industry. Who are you? Who do you want to be? What role do you want to play? I can't stress enough how important it is to find a mentor. This person will help to guide you through your career.