In an exclusive interview with Estetica, Reuben Carranza, Managing Director of Procter & Gamble Professional Care, reveals the strategist and humanity at the helm of Wella Professionals.
Recently attaining quasi-star status with his ‘Hope is in Style’ campaign, Reuben Carranza talks about awards, accomplishments, and the future.
2013 has been a very special year for Reuben Carranza. What feelings were aroused in you when you received the City of Hope – Spirit of Life Award?
“I was incredibly proud, for a number of reasons. First, I felt that my campaign, ‘Hope is in Style’, had been successful in bringing the attention of the industry to a silent scourge that ends the careers of so many hairdressers. Next, I felt that the award was a tribute to my mother and so many hairdressers like her who suffered from the career-ending effects of diabetes when they were only trying to work in a profession they loved. Finally, I was so pleased to receive the award from my twin brother Richard, who flew in from San Francisco where he’s the Superintendent of Schools, to share the moment with me.”
To what extent is it important for the beauty industry to be involved in charity initiatives like ‘Hope is in Style’ or ‘Hairdressers at Heart’?
“Ours in a naturally generous industry. Hairdressers constantly give back. As a company, we simply make the industry aware of causes we think are important to the health of the industry. Hairdressers always step up and say, ‘What can I do to help?’ Our role as a major manufacturer is to facilitate the efforts of the industry, making it easy for hairdressers to get involved, whether it’s during an event like the ‘Hairdressers Helping Hairdressers’ fundraiser for salon professional affected by Hurricane Sandy, or whether it’s an aware-building campaign like ‘Hope is in Style’.”
How do you evaluate the launch of the ‘Hope is in Style’ Campaign –a very personal project of yours– and the response of professionals in the USA?
“I was personally very moved by the response. It seemed like every time we talked about the campaign, a hairdresser or salon owner would come up to us and say, ‘My mom had diabetes’, or ‘My sister had to quit working when she became diabetic’, or even, ‘I was just diagnosed as a diabetic’. There are so many untold stories out there, and it’s my hope that the campaign gives hairdressers a way to tell them and share experiences.”
Since last September you have been the Vice President of PBA Board of Directors. What are the main challenges in this new position?
“My goal at PBA is to continue to assist the Board and Chairman Scott Buchanan in their mission to establish the PBA as the inclusive, effective association for the entire industry – every individual and every sector.”
Let’s talk about your work with Wella Professionals. How do you perceive brand growth in the United States since you assumed leadership?
“In my time with Wella, the Salon Professional Division of P&G, we’ve restaged every one of our iconic brands, and they just keep getting bigger and better. We restaged our Wella Professionals Koleston Perfect and Color Perfect, then added the Wella Professionals Care and Styling line to the mix, and most recently came out with our beautiful new baby, Wella Illumina Color. We put a sharp focus on the Sebastian brand to be sure that we delivered what the cutting-edge stylist requires and added new products like Shaper Fierce and Texture Maker. Technological breakthroughs like the instant-thickening Nioxin Diamax have brought that universally respected brand to a new level. And now, we’re working on Clairol Professional to create the perfect blend of new color capability with classic shades.”
What projects and challenges are you dealing with in P&G Salon Professional that have given you the greatest satisfaction so far?
“I love working with all the products because I love creating tools that help hairdressers help their clients, but my real passion is to help the salon professional achieve his or her own goals. That’s why we came up with the Hairdressers at Heart initiative. We identified four critical points in a hairdresser’s career –as a beginning beauty school student, as a newly licensed hairdresser, as a working stylist and as a salon owner– and created programs that support the professional at each one of those points. For instance, we gave $1.5 million to fund the Vidal Sassoon Professional Beauty Education Scholarship fund, which is administered by Beauty Changes Lives to offer 10 scholarships up to $10,000 to basic beauty school entrants and up to $5,000 to working stylists for advanced training at the Vidal Sassoon Academies every year. We sponsor competitions and offer mentorship programs for newly licensed stylists. For the stylist with a family, we’ve made available a discount on childcare from a nationwide provider. And salon owners who want to work with their community should check out our Hairdressers at Heart Charity Challenge, which can subsidize a salon’s charitable efforts up to $10,000. I think that this is the type of support that we as a major manufacturer owe to the hairdresser. Your readers can find all the details at www.hairdressersatheart.com“
To what extent is the world of color a major asset in the strategic vision of Wella Professionals in the American market?
“We are a company that serves the salon, and just like the salon, service is the core of our business. At Wella, we’ve embarked on an unprecedented series of technological breakthroughs in color. The first, which our North American hairdressers have already seen, has been the introduction of Wella Illumina Color, which of any permanent color leaves the hair closet to its virgin state. Illumina has been received with extraordinary enthusiasm by North American colorists; in fact, we’re now launching a series of new shades, some in those beautiful pastel tones that are so popular for blondes. Illumina Color is enabling salons to create a premium color service experience that carries an average price increase of 20%, so we know our work on the product is building business in the salon. But we have still more in the pipeline. P&G research scientists have been working for years on the problem of sensitization and allergy to ppD and ppT, the molecules that make permanent color work. After 20 years of work, they’ve cracked the puzzle with the development of a new color molecule, ME+, which replaces ppD and ppT, reducing the risk of an allergic response, yet achieving the same excellent color performance. This new molecule is the core technology for a new hair color line that’s just been introduced in Europe and will come to our shores next year.”
We know you are passionate about education. The Wella North America education team is amazing with a dynamic leader like Fabio Sementilli. What are your plans for 2014?
“We’ve just begun an incredible education roadshow called the Wella Life Tour that couples an artistic immersion for the stylist with business insights for the owner at each event. The tour will stop all over the U.S. and Canada. It’s a combination of education and inspiration from top teams from the Wella Professionals brand and Sebastian Professional. And we’ve coupled it with what we’re calling special ‘Intermix’ sessions that cover brand-based business-building and income growth. Anyone who’s interested should contact their local Wella salesperson.”
What role will e-learning and platforms like www.pgsalonpro.com play in the coming years for Wella Professionals?
“To reach the level of artistic and technical excellence needed to compete in today’s beauty marketplace, hairdressers will have to engage almost continuously in education. That means education delivered through the classical routes of shows and seminars but also online, delivered with a high standard of professional training. We’ve rebranded our E-Education portal as www.wellainteractive.com to reflect how important a genuinely interactive educational experience is to a working professional and to offer every hairdresser, whether a new stylist or a budding salon owner, the opportunity to work on their skills at a time and in a place that’s most convenient.”
How will they continue to develop and what’s new in popular competitions like Wella Trend Vision or Sebastian’s What’s Next?
“Both competitions keep getting bigger and bigger. Our North American regional Wella Trend Vision competition held last July in Las Vegas attracted more entrants than ever before. We will be sending our winning candidates from both Canada and the U.S. to compete at Wella International Trend Vision in May in Frankfurt, Germany, which also happens to be the home of Wella. The event will be held there immediately after Hairworld, so it’s tremendously exciting. Sebastian’s What’s Next competition is going on right now – interested hairdressers should check out the Sebastian Professional Facebook page to see how they can enter. The final will be held in Los Angeles in April. At the Wella family, we believe that competing to achieve ever-higher levels of excellence is part of our DNA. We build challenge into everything we do. For instance, 2013 Wella Trend Vision Canada winner Fay Linksman and 2013 Sebastian What’s Next winner Daniel Lozado will be traveling to Sochi, Russia for the Winter Olympics in February to work in the salon at the P&G Family Home, doing hair for the moms of the Olympians. They’ll be joining Wella and Sebastian stylists from countries all over the world in the salon. They’ll be Tweeting and Facebooking their experiences all along the way; I can’t wait to hear them!”
The Latin styling market is rising and Wella Professionals is no stranger to this growth. How focused is P&G Salon Professional on Latino hairdressing in the USA?
“We are very excited by the growth of the Latin styling market in the U.S. because of the tremendous opportunity this client represents for the professional hairdresser. All our research shows that the Latina consumer is more hair-involved than the general market consumer, and we believe the time is right for the salon industry to capture our fair share of this woman’s beauty dollars. While of course we formulate for a full range of shades in our Koleston Perfect, Wella Illumina and Wella Color Charm lines, we also have been putting our marketing muscle into raising the profile of the professional hairdresser in the diverse Latino community. Last year, for example, Wella Color Charm sponsored the Latin Billboard awards in Miami. Five of our stylists worked backstage to help create the looks! We had tremendous interest from the Spanish-language media and were able to tell the story of salon style in an enlightening, entertaining way. Also, at the Premiere Show in June, we mounted the first and only multi-brand stage presentation and webcast completely in Spanish. Our commitment to this market is solid and growing.”
What would be your personal message that you would like to be your legacy for a future world of hairdressing?
“We are privileged to be part of a craft that touches half the U.S. population weekly. We –from the manufacturer to the hairdresser– need to be proud of our association with this craft and always work together to build the industry and each other.”