By  on January 11, 2008

Colorist Kim Vo reached back to his roots — his Vietnamese roots, not his blonde ones — to develop his new namesake hair care line.

Vo, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1976, was inspired by his mother's tales of his grandmother steeping her hair in beans collected in Vietnamese fields. The bean, named Boket, has a high sugar content and D-pinitol, a naturally occurring compound that's used in supplements.

"She said, 'Kim, this has worked for thousands of years, so obviously this works,'" Vo said, referring to his mother. "Botek doesn't [make suds], but it is great for the shine on the hair. Unglamorous, but it is true." The products contain other Asian essentials, as well, including rice, soy, seaweed, silk and lotus.

Aiming for the luxury market, Vo, who is based out of salons in West Hollywood, Beverly Hills and Las Vegas, also was keen to infuse his line with the latest modern technologies. He tapped the firm Catalyst to help him formulate products that foster hair health while prolonging the life of hair dye.

"Clients leave so beautiful and when they come back, their hair is faded," Vo said. "I want them to come in the same as they left."

The line is targeted at people with color-treated hair and features an ingredient dubbed ME-10, which is touted as increasing color retention for 20 washes. A so-called Capispheres delivery system carries the ingredients into the hair and, due to microscope spheres' positive charge, makes the ingredients bind to negatively charged hair keratin.

"I really didn't care about the cost of the product. I wanted the best ingredients and the best story," said Vo. "There are certain companies that monopolize that high-end product, and there is room for quality because customers want to try something new."

The initial assortment consists of six hair care products and six style products. Ranging from 200 ml. to 250 ml., the hair care products are a moisturizing shampoo, conditioner and masque, and a volumizing shampoo, conditioner and masque. The style products are a 10-oz hair spray, an 8-oz. root booster, a 4-oz. botanical volumizer, a 30-ml. dry serum, a 2-oz. texturizing paste, a 200-ml. glaze and an 1.8-oz. styling cream. Prices run from around $24 to $55.Barneys New York is the exclusive retailer for Kim Vo Hair Care, which will launch Jan. 18 when the newest flagship officially opens at The Palazzo resort in Las Vegas before hitting eight more stores. In addition, Vo plans to sell his products in about 10 high-end salons in a year and vows to visit each one before his line will be stocked on shelves. "It is going to be a slow process," said Vo, whose goal is to reach $1 million in total first-year sales.

Barneys New York had been looking for a hair care line to introduce for spring after eliminating Oscar Blandi and tested five options, according to Cindy Chua, buyer for apothecary and skin care treatment at Barneys. "We were trying all these different products and the one that everybody loved from fragrance to texture to performance was Kim Vo," she said.

At Barneys stores, Chua predicts the moisturizing shampoo and conditioner will be the stars of the line, and she estimated that Kim Vo Hair Care would generate $400,000 in sales the first year. "Usually, shampoos and conditioners sell a lot faster than anything else in the line, with regard to sell-through in hair care," Chua said. She singled out Philip B as Barneys' current top hair care brand.

Vo shares ownership of the line with The Sylmark Group. Better known for marketing products such as Miracle Blade knives and Ultimate Chopper food processors, the Los Angeles-based infomercial specialist put up the start-up financing. "We build a partnership with equity. I own the name, and we don't license to them, but they have a right to a percentage," he explained, not disclosing the exact percentage.

Vo has made his reputation keeping Hollywood fair-headed ladies, including Kate Hudson, Goldie Hawn and Kirsten Dunst, blonde. He kicked off his career at The Spot in New York before jumping to Privé in Los Angeles and then Cristophe Beverly Hills. In 2000, he branched out with B2V, a salon in West Hollywood that he owns with Alberto Borrelli.

Vo, whose Las Vegas salon at the Mirage will celebrate its launch next month, already is planning his next product launch in six months of three treatment products. Ultimately, he envisions the line replicating the path taken by PureOlogy, a $207 million brand that was gobbled up last spring by L'Oréal."I love [PureOlogy's] structure and how they sold the company," Vo said. "I think this company has the same potential."

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