By  on December 22, 2000

"The whole influence of Japan is here to stay," Michael Eggerton, Brodie & Stone's chairman, said of his line MyMy, which was launched in the U.K. this fall and is targeted at 15- to 30-year-olds. "I wanted to create a line a 20-year-old Western woman would perceive to be Japanese but that actually was made here."

Eggerton, who travels extensively to the Far East, carried the idea through to every detail of the products. The name came about because Eggerton thought a Japanese woman would go into a store and ask for "my cleanser" or "my shampoo" rather than a particular brand -- thus MyMy. Almost all Japanese products have some sort of icon, so Eggerton created the MyMy girl, a figure that is on all the packaging.

The packaging is inspired by Japan's fascination with anything techno, from curvy shampoo bottles shaped like a sail, to the see-through plastic pouches used in the shower and bath foams.

As for the products, Eggerton wanted to develop a line that was focused and easy to understand. The skin care includes body souffles, eye pads containing vitamin A or vitamin C, a Fine Line Treatment Stick, body spritzers and body sparkles. The skin care was followed by hair care and a bath and shower line.

All the products use ingredients identified with the Far East. MyMy includes Yuzu Fruit with Cucumber shampoo and conditioner, Waterlily and Apricot Shower Crush, Green Tea and Ginseng Bath Foam and Cucumber Slice Eye Pads with vitamin A.

"I decided not to go the technical route but the smell route because that's what a lot of consumers base their purchases on," Eggerton said. "I wanted to develop something that would be colorful and fun and would stand out on the stores' shelves."

Retail prices for the 37-product line start at $1.60 for a Tired Facial Skin Buff to $7.25 for Body Souffle with Green Tea and Ginseng. (The figures were translated from local currency using current exchange rates.)

MyMy is now carried in almost 1,500 Boots, Asda, Tesco and Superdrug doors. Eggerton said the brand is on course to do about $7.25 million at retail within the next year. His goal is to double that within the next two years, both by expanding distribution and adding new products. MyMy will launch a line of hair styling products next spring followed by color cosmetics within 18 months."It will be a totally new concept for color," Eggerton said excitedly. "It will be fun and easy to use, fitting in with the MyMy girl."

Making consumers enthusiastic about the MyMy girl is a key to Eggerton's plans for the brand. Before the launch, Brodie & Stone sent 250 bags of MyMy products to key decision makers in the worlds of TV, music, film, fashion, magazines and public relations. It also placed MyMy products on the seats reserved for fashion editors at the runway shows of Maria Chen, Tracy Mulligan and Marjan Pejoski in London in September. Brodie & Stone plans to launch a MyMy Internet site early next year where customers could communicate about the brand and suggest their own MyMy products.

"They'll then get a reward for the ideas we put into production, like a free treatment or some products," Eggerton said. "We want to talk to all the MyMy people and get them excited about it."

If things go to plan, MyMy will rapidly become Brodie & Stone's most important product line. Eggerton's grandmother Helena Harnik had her own beauty clinic, as did his mother. He worked at Revlon, Gillette and Pierre Fabre before starting his own company, Beauty Basics, in 1981 to distribute such lines as Molton Brown and launch his own line of bath products Just Desserts. But the company had constant cash-flow problems and Eggerton sold it to the manufacturer Croda. He bought his grandmother's former clinic in London from his mother and refurbished it.

In 1989 he bought his father's company, Brodie & Stone, which was then a furnishing fabrics company. Eggerton turned it into the shell for his next beauty venture.

It started by distributing Jolen Creme Bleach, then added Juergens, Dermablend, Colorsport, Bonne Bell and the B.U. fragrance and body care line.

But Eggerton was worried what would happen to the company if it lost the distributorships so he decided to start buying small brands and launching his own. He first bought Newtons Foot Therapy, which brought him a development lab.

Eggerton's parents lived in Australia at that time and he kept hearing about a wonderful ingredient called tea tree oil. So Brodie & Stone launched a line called T-Zone with tea tree oil, which now has the fourth-largest share of the U.K. medicated skin care market. T-Zone for Men was added a few years later, as was Pro-Tec after-sun hair care and the Helena Harnik skin care line."We created Helena Harnik with the premise that skin whitening, which is very popular in Japan, would take off in the West," Eggerton said. "We gave Boots the exclusive. It did work and it didn't work. I believe whitening will come and we'll see the big beauty companies doing it soon. But we didn't really promote it.

"The lesson we learned was that if you talk technology, we don't have enough of a marketing budget to get a new technology across to the consumer. So we have to talk about other things than technology and leave that to the big companies."

About three years ago Brodie & Stone was asked to develop a new beauty line for Marks & Spencer PLC. The result, Tsunami, moved Brodie & Stone into the own-label market, which is now an important revenue stream. Brodie & Stone now develops lines for Boots, Superdrug, Tesco PLC and Asda, the U.K. subsidiary of Wal-Mart.

"We are an ideas company," Eggerton said. "We don't own any factories or distribution. We come up with the concepts and then go get someone else to make them and distribute them."

It seems to be working -- Brodie & Stone has sales of about $15 million a year and Eggerton expects this to increase rapidly as it gains more own-label projects, relaunches some of its own lines such as Pro-Tec and further develops MyMy.

Almost all the company's sales are in the U.K. and Eggerton has no plans to expand aggressively overseas. He's learned the difficulties of exporting from experience -- in the past he's spent close to $1 million trying to launch Brodie & Stone's lines in the U.S., with little success.

"I've been to Wal-Mart six times and seen Target numerous times," Eggerton said. "We're an unknown quantity there. The only way we could launch MyMy or any of our lines there is if I moved to the U.S. to oversee it properly. John Frieda is really the only British brand that has made a success of the U.S. and he has American management and American salons.

"There is enough business in the U.K. with MyMy and our other activities that we plan to concentrate our efforts here," Eggerton added. "We want to own the U.K. in the areas where we're focused. If Juergens thinks it's small in the U.S. where does that leave us? We're the paper clip budget of L'Oreal in Texas."

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