By  on March 25, 2005

NEW YORK — Last July, as Samy sat in the lobby of the Mandalay Bay Convention Center in Las Vegas chatting with the press, a steady trickle of fans — vacationing there with their kids in tow — interrupted the celebrity hairstylist to utter an excited hello. Some hugged him. Others enthusiastically waved to him — conspicuous with his Miami tan and “ocean-blue” eyes — from a few yards away.

Over the last six years, the Cuban hairstylist has ingratiated himself with consumers across the U.S. by selling his eponymous hair care and colorful personality on the Home Shopping Network. After building a successful business with HSN — Samy boasts that his personal appearances on the network reap an average of $10,000 in sales per minute — he began eyeing the mass market.

Last year, the company tested a retail line called Samy Salon Systems in select Walgreens, Wal-Mart, Target and Eckerd doors. At the time, the hair care line consisted of four shampoos and conditioners housed in brightly colored bottles: Daily (yellow), Volume (orange), Moist (red) and Smooth (purple). The line is a narrower assortment of Samy’s professional collection sold on HSN. The HSN collection — outfitted in different packaging — is more than 100 stockkeeping units, many of which are organized into kits.

This year, Samy Salon Systems gained chainwide distribution in Walgreens, CVS and Rite Aid, and grabbed more shelf space with a five-item styling line. Target — which is in the midst of reconfiguring the beauty department in its 700 largest stores — plans to feature Samy products in a lighted shelf display, or “glorifier” as the retailer refers to the program — in these revamped locations, said Luis Delgado, chairman and chief executive officer of Samy Companies.

Delgado added he expects the line to have a distribution network of more than 25,000 stores by yearend, up from 2,400 doors last year.

All products tout a “no wax, no residue, no buildup” promise. “Nobody else can make that claim,” declared Samy. The stylist, who works out of his Samy Salon at the Hotel Radisson in Miami, said he came up with the idea for the line after feeling a waxy texture on a client’s newly washed hair. He wanted to create a hair care collection to remove that buildup, which can gather on the scalp, as well.The company expanded the line in February with a styling collection. The styling products include an aerosol gloss spray called Incredible, an alcohol-free Mucho Mousse, Smooth Leave-in Conditioner and Curls Define and Extend Crème, all of which sell for a suggested retail price of $5.99. The star product in the line, said Samy, is Samysilk — a lightweight antifrizz serum designed to give luster. Samysilk is available for $7.99. Later this year, Samy plans to introduce a deep conditioning treatment called Beyond Repair.

Industry sources expect the line to generate more than $40 million in first year retail sales, surpassing sales of Samy’s HSN line.

The company will support its retail effort with a $5 million advertising budget. Print ads, breaking in April beauty magazines, feature Guess model Sarah Munch (Paris Hilton’s predecessor) with sexy, slightly undone hair. The tag line “I’m wearing Samy,” is a play off of red-carpet utterances.

This fall, Samy will open a new salon concept on Lincoln Road in South Beach designed to cater to a younger, more price-conscious clientele. The goal is to give working girls a place for “affordable pampering,” explained Samy. The Miami salon will be followed by locations in New York, Los Angeles, Chicago and London. Delgado said he expects to open five to 10 Samy salons by 2006. The salons will feature Samy’s professional line on the back bar.

The company will also begin distributing its professional line — with HSN’s blessing — to salons throughout the U.S. and Central America.

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