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Q&A: Frederic Fekkai

WWD sat down with Frederic Fekkai to talk about his company's hair products.

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WWD: Now that the Frédéric Fekkai hair care brand is under the Procter & Gamble Co. portfolio, what is your role at the company?

This story first appeared in the August 8, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Frédéric Fekkai: My role with Fekkai is that of brand architect. With this newly established role I will continue to lend my creative vision and drive creative efforts, brand image and product development in addition to my current ongoing role at the salons.

WWD: You obviously wear both the creative and the business hat well. Which one do you get the most fulfillment from?

F.F.:
I think it’s a really nice balance of both worlds. Of course since I made my living cutting hair, that area of my life will always give me fulfillment. But what really energizes me and keeps me motivated is figuring out ways to merge the two — to be really creative in business, and to constantly challenge ourselves to delight our customer in ways she never expected.

WWD: We’ve seen a rash of sharply angled bobs of late. What’s next on the hairstyle front?

F.F.: Since we have continued to see every variation on the bob, I think some of those elements from the style will remain. For example, I think we will continue to see longer bangs cut straight across worn with either straight hair or slightly wavy — an updated take on the Jane Birkin look.

I think the middle part will also be making a strong comeback. It’s a great, youthful look and when paired with tousled hair is less severe and more modern.

WWD: Do women’s hairstyles mirror what’s happening beyond fashion to capture the consumer psyche? If yes, can you site some examples?

F.F.:
Absolutely. While the consumer may be pinching their pennies, women still continue to purchase product and hair services, albeit in a different way. Some women may opt to do their color at home. Since there are now a variety of options for at-home hair color available — including my own, Salon Color — the results achieved are often salon-worthy. Consumers may also go a little longer between their hair appointments. The bottom line is that cosmetics products and services make women feel good about themselves and few are really willing to give up those elements. Times like these only force the consumer to be more economical and make smarter decisions about their purchases.

WWD: You’ve established a business model that many would like to duplicate: a salon brand that’s also available in prestige retailers. How did you carve out that channel?

F.F.: When I started creating the product line, it was important to me to make it available where my customers shop. It was really an extension of our philosophy inside the Fekkai salons — meeting our customers’ needs on every level. The women in our salons were also in Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman Marcus, and those retailers were the first supporters of our brand and remain among our strongest partners today. As shopping patterns continue to evolve, our goal is still to be where our customer goes for her beauty purchases. She is in Bloomingdale’s and Sephora and Space NK and Bluemercury. She’s in malls and online, and shopping QVC. She may not be able to come in to a Fekkai salon, but it is important that Fekkai products are available to her when and where she chooses to shop for them.

WWD: For a luxury brand like Fekkai, what retail channels interest you most?

F.F.:
We have been fortunate to be able to carve out a niche market for our product line. With Fekkai we’ve really hit all the right outlets. While we have specific distribution for the brand, I always try to pay attention to what is going on at the retail level, what consumers are doing and their trends. I think it is marvelous how certain retailers have elevated their image through a selective process of the brands they offer.

WWD:
What publications do you read regularly? What Web sites do you frequent?

F.F.: I read Allure, W, WWD, the New York Post, Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Economist, Vogue and Crain’s, and visit the following Web sites: lefigaro.fr, WWD.com, Style.com and Huffington Post.

WWD: Will you still see clients in the salon?

F.F.: Absolutely, I make it a point to visit all of my salons regularly.

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