By  on September 20, 2007

Sara Jones joined Joico when it was down and out. Today, the professional beauty company is about to end 2007 with $60 million in sales, up 64 percent over 2005. Here, how Joico’s Jones turned the brand around in less than two years.

Talk about stepping into the muck.

When Sara Jones agreed to become Joico's general manager in 2005, the professional hair care firm was bleeding money. Annual double-digit sales declines had become a habit since its acquisition by Shiseido's Zotos division three years earlier, she says. Remote oversight from Zotos' Darien, Conn., headquarters left the California brand rudderless, and mounting employee attrition stymied revitalization.

"It just lost its luster, and there was no one totally focused on keeping the brand going," recalls Jones. But Jones had what Joico lacked: a laser-point can-do approach incubated in a salon in Sioux Falls, S.D., where she began her career 25 years prior as a hairdresser before zooming up the ranks at Redken, Graham Webb and Matrix.

"I had a sense that she was exactly the right person for the job," says Ron Krassin, who made Jones one of his first hires upon becoming Zotos' chief executive officer. "I wanted someone to have the business acumen to come in and make business decisions that would make sense, [and] I wanted someone to do it in a way that was motivating to everybody around."

Jones was put to the test immediately. In an attempt to reverse its fortunes, Joico had embarked on a repackaging effort set to conclude in September 2005, six months after Jones took the helm. She worried the effort, albeit necessary, was bereft in two somewhat opposing regards: It was directionless and not ambitious enough.

"There was not a lot of unified actions being done," says Jones. "What I learned right away was: This company needs to prioritize. When you are trying to do everything, you are not doing anything very well."

Jones made a full-scale reenergizing of the brand priority number one. She amplified the initial project and pushed forward with an overhaul that addressed Joico's products, education, marketing and, of course, packaging. To execute the overhaul properly, she asked the parent company to delay the launch for four months.

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