For a very long time, the beauty industry, like any other, was predominantly run by men. Of course the whole industry is based on women, but there were not many notable leaders running it – that is, until women like Eva Graham hit the scene and expanded the industry.
Eva Graham is a pioneer in the beauty industry as one of the few female heads of a company that resulted in the creation of a whole branch of professional products. As the founder of NIOXIN, she brought to the table something more than a product, she presented a solution. A product designed to solve a problem that many people have. Eva and her family sold the brand to Wella in 2008, but she has kept a parent’s eye on its progress. She attended Wella Trend Vision in Berlin to talk about how she’s continuing to collaborate on NIOXIN via social media and to accept a Wella Life Achievement Award. Eva sat down with ESTETICA to talk about the past and the future of NIOXIN:
Tell us about the journey about linking with Wella, when was the beginning of that partnership and what do you expect is going to be the future with Coty?
“Well, I think the future is going to be beautiful for NIOXIN – all of the synergies of the business practices, the goal and the development of the brand, are going to continue as much as they have. The relationship between NIOXIN and Wella was very crystal clear, because it is better to really carry the banner of the brand into more countries and greater depth of developing than the partnership that we had, and it has really been fulfilled beautifully. They are growing the brand, their focus is very much the same as it always was with NIOXIN – the education, the stylists, the technological breakthroughs… quite honestly, expectations have been fulfilled!“
Let’s talk about the beginnings of the brand, how you came up with the concept and how you became a leader of the thinning hair category?
“The story is this simple. I was an only child, and as most girls, I was a girl that simply adored her father. Who is the most incredible man in the world but your father? And I would watch my dad brush his hair and it was falling out, and he actually went quite bald. Everyday he would say, ‘If someone just found a way for a man to not loose his hair.’ Then, when my first child was born, as it happens to many young mothers, half of my hair fell out. It is something that usually happens with your first child. And I didn’t think it was a bad day, it was the end of the world! The doctor would tell me not to worry and that it was going to come back, but I would ask him, ‘How do you know!’ So developing it had a lot with me relating to the problem. If you loose your hair it is still quite traumatic if you are a man or a woman. It’s actually quite an emotional journey, when I began NIOXIN – it was a grain of sand, but my goal always was the solution and stop hair loss. It helps women keep the hair they have and to keep strong healthy hair. I always saw it as something that every person in the world needed, I still think that. If I could have it my way there would be NIOXIN in every shower, and the whole family is using it everyday for optimum results. After 25 years you really establish a sense of loyalty to any brand really. If you used it and tried it and works then there is a special validation. And it works in every country, every ethnicity, every hair type, oily scalp, dry scalp, doesn’t matter… the product performs!“
What were some challenges at the beginning, because you were a pioneer, you were creating a brand new category.
“Oh, I think it was being able to talk about it. People would think, ‘Oh, I can’t tell my clients that they’re loosing their hair’ and it was educating the stylist and salon owner the tools and the language. How do you discuss hair loss and thinning hair? You discuss the problem, you identify that they need the product, you recommend what they would use, and you give them a proven solution. So I think the biggest challenge was getting them to feel comfortable speaking about it and creating that kind of conversation. There needed to be tools and the conversation skills, so stylists needed to be trained the key phrases at the tip of your tongue – it was very challenging in the beginning but I believe in the possibly. And the possibilities are all about the reality to create the world you want. And for me it was not impossible – it was something I wanted to do.”
How do you think professionals can get this message across?
“I think the best is to speak to it. It is a simple conversation. ‘Are you experiencing losing more hair than you’d like? Would you like to find a solution? May I help you find the ideal product to fix that?’ And the consumer usually has read about hair loss, very frequently they know more than the hairdresser, because this is a problem that they want to solve, it’s just not often that the hairdresser can give that to them. They’re going to the pharmacy, and they will find a solution for it, but it’s all about the stylist being comfortable. 99% of the time the client is thinking, ‘Why haven’t you said anything about it?’ Think about it, when you go to the doctor, the first think he does is touch you. But there is an exchange with the hairdresser that is very special, unlike any person in your family. They are focusing on your hair, grabbing your back, your hair – it’s a wonderful world of connectivity. All you have to do is open your heart and your mind, really open your mouth and inform them of the help. I think I’ve faced every challenge that someone in this industry can face, but I didn’t see them as challenges. I saw them as opportunities, as beginnings.”
How is social media helping this conversation with NIOXIN?
“Social Media is a central part of all communications that we use – you can see a lot of conversation among hairdressers taking place on that platform. So that’s something important for us. Here we explained our story, how we have set up as the No.1 brand to inspire others with the ‘I wish to I will campaign’ – and there was a lot of engagement with people starting to share their stories and how they turn their wishes into wills in their lives. So for sure it is a platform for the hairdressers to connect but it is also powerful for consumer engagement. When it comes to our hairdressers we are also advancing education – this is the central and most important part of the brand. We are also introducing an online platform for online education – we are looking to see how we can tap into engaging that community of hairdressers as well.”
I would love to hear you talk about your life as a pioneer, as a woman.
“Well, when I started, there was a very big glass ceiling for women. It was before the consolidation of professional hair care in North America and so whatever a man had to do to achieve something, I probably had to do 1,000 more things to get to the same place. Yeah, I was just a southern girl – all I knew was I had something I loved and was passionate about and I probably made every mistake I could possible have made. But the best part was I talked about it from my heart: ‘I have something you need that delivers results, and I can show you as a distributor, as a salon owner, a stylist – I can show you just how more money you’ll make with this product and you will have a brand loyalty that you cannot imagine. I was truly just embraced by the industry. I was the only woman and they stopped. They nurtured me and gave me respect. I have a real debt of gratitude with my industry and with America. They had to excuse the girl that was about to not fail. And that sentiment was going to change the world.”
What are your feelings about the launch of the Night Density Rescue, which takes care of the scalp throughout the night.
“I think it is a beautiful concept. Like most things in the line, I find it very simple: the body does the greatest amount of healing during sleep. So you would use your system during the day, and then during the evening you are working with a nighttime measurement, where the follicle will reach its greatest ability to be restored.”
What can we expect from NIOXIN in the next few years, not just in the U.S., but internationally?
“We always want to grow, and be able to touch more consumers and people that can benefit, and that’s still the mission that we are on. I mean we are the global leader, but that doesn’t mean we can sit back. Stay on top of new discoveries, like with Night Density Rescue. We keep track of whatever advances we see in the industry. There are still big market opportunities out there – I mean, think about how many consumers globally we can touch. We’re not even halfway there yet, there is so much room for development. I tell people, if God had given me the hair that I wanted, there would be no need of NIOXIN. It just doesn’t matter, the hair, the climate, the ethnicity. You have a lot of readers that are different and from all over, but the success results will be the same.”