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Blow Salons Expanding to Department Stores

The brand's founder and president Stuart Sklar hopes to create a trend: wet and dry styling bars on mainstream department store beauty floors.

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As he expands his Blow brand into additional doors, founder and president Stuart Sklar hopes to create a trend: wet and dry styling bars on mainstream department store beauty floors.

This story first appeared in the September 20, 2013 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

By yearend, there will be five department and specialty store Blow outposts in the U.S., at Macy’s Herald Square and at Nordstrom doors in Newport Beach, Calif.’s Fashion Island; Chicago; Roseville, Calif. and Los Angeles’ The Grove. By yearend 2014, Sklar expects to open an additional nine outposts in retailer doors. In most cases, the outposts are slated to offer both wet and dry styling. Sklar has just done a soft launch on Macy’s Herald Square’s redesigned beauty floor, with a formal opening expected to follow in a few weeks.

Sklar declined comment on sales projections for the retailer outposts, although industry sources estimated each outpost could generate $250,000 to $500,000 yearly in service and products sales, depending on location.

“This is one-stop beauty shopping,” said Sklar, who founded Blow in 2005 as the latest step in a beauty career spent at L’Oréal, Avon and Coty. “This is a new concept in department stores and will increase the hair-care category in department stores. We are partnering with the retailer to provide an experience.” At the retailer outposts, customers can choose one of four express styles — a beachy blowout, one which adds volume, another offering a sleek finish and a fourth with braids — for $20 each. For $50, chignons, buns, ponytails and twists can be had.

Blow began with a freestanding location in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District, expanded into a product line in 2008 and in 2010 opened BlowPro Academy, devoted to teaching aspiring stylists the art of the blowout. The educational bent continues to the consumer level; the brand offers step-by-step photo cards for each of the styling products with techniques on how to use them to achieve a polished, finished look. “Our aim is to demystify the whole blowout process,” said Sklar.

The product line has expanded to 32 stockkeeping units since its inception — 22 full-sized sku’s and 10 travel sizes. The products, which are all intended to maximize the performance of a blowout, are broken down into four families — Clean + Nourish, which includes sulfate- and paraben-free shampoos and conditioners; Prep + Style, which is intended to prime and protect hair before styling tools are used; Finish + Refresh, which is intended to seal the style and extend the longevity of the blowout, and Try + Travel, which offers several products from the first three collections in carryon-friendly sizes. Overall, the sku’s range in price from $8 to $22.

The most recent introduction is Textstyle, a dry texture spray which launched this month. A 5.6-oz. can retails for $19.75; the 2-oz. travel size is $9.50. Products are sold in about 800 doors, including 500 Ulta doors, HSN and blowpro.com. Sklar noted the brand would probably enter another 50 Ulta doors in 2014.

In October, Superdrug in the U.K. will begin carrying the products, said Sklar, who added that he eventually hopes to add Blow service outposts with the British retailer.

Sklar plans to add antiaging stylers to the mix in spring. “Blowdrying is often blamed for damaging hair, but we will turn it into friendly heat,” he said.

While Sklar refused to discuss numbers, industry sources estimated that Blow’s retail sales would top $10 million by yearend 2014, a number that includes the brand’s sales in specialty retail, professional salons, e-commerce and HSN. Sources also estimated that Blow could grow as much as 25 percent in sales by yearend 2014, given retailer expansion and additional product introductions. Sklar has also inked a deal with Virgin Hotels to provide amenities.

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