LOS ANGELES — When José Eber was feted for his lifetime accomplishments at the Global Salon Business Awards here last Monday night, he graciously pronounced the honor a bit premature.
This story first appeared in the June 13, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“After this award, I’m going global too,” said Eber, the hairstylist who is as famous for his ever-present cowboy hat as he is for his pioneering of home shopping TV appearances. “It’s only the beginning….I achieved a lot, but much more [is] to come.”
Eber is having a rebirth of sorts. With three decades at the helm of his Beverly Hills flagship and several ill-fated business partnerships behind him, the Frenchman has assembled a new corporate team, headed by chief executive officer Janice Winter, to embark on an expansion enterprise that capitalizes on his experience and recognized name.
“He is an icon, but he has never exploded his brand the way that others in this space have,” said Winter, former president of jewelry brand Judith Ripka and a 12-year veteran of the Estée Lauder Cos. Inc., where she held various positions at the Aramis and Lauder brands. “We believe there is a tremendous opportunity.”
One of the first steps in brandishing Eber’s business is getting his 10,000-square-foot salon on Rodeo Drive in tip-top shape. A remodel is slated for the second quarter of next year, when the salon will venture into the lifestyle territory with spa and boutique areas in addition to the customary chairs.
Also on the schedule for 2009 is a branded José Eber hair care line aimed at the professional segment based on a philosophy Winter summed up with the phrase “science meets luxury.” “It will be a product that meets his taste level, and with results. He is always about results,” she said.
Winter expects to plant a 5,000-square-foot José Eber location in Manhattan at the end of next year before adding two to three 3,500-square-foot salons a year from 2010 to 2012 in cities such as Paris, London, Dubai, Las Vegas, Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, Miami and Scottsdale, Ariz. Long-term plans include fragrance and skin care launches as well.
To lay the financial infrastructure for growth, Eber is raising capital with the help of New York-based boutique investment bank Sonenshine Partners. Winter would not discuss the fund-raising goal or the revenues garnered by Eber’s current operations, but she pointed to Procter & Gamble Co.’s purchase of Frédéric Fekkai as evidence that expert hairstylists who have reached celebrity status resonate in the current marketplace.
“I have years of experience, and I want to have something I’m proud of,” said Eber. “Now you can go on QVC, know a little about hair and make believe you are the king of hair. All the people who have proven themselves, who really have knowledge, it is time for them to be out there.”