Gail Federici

Gail Federici knows what it takes to build a successful hair-care brand.

The industry veteran and chief executive officer of Federici Brands was instrumental in establishing the John Frieda brand since its launch in 1989 and has leveraged her experience to build her latest venture, Color Wow, a professional hair-care line geared toward color-treated hair.

Federici shared five things she’s learned during her 40-year career to give insight to entrepreneurs, the first of which being teamwork.

“When you’re small, it is really important that you don’t just grab a friend and go into business together unless that friend really has qualities that are important to what you’re doing and that you don’t have,” she said.

The second insight was to determine if there is a decent-sized market that will be interested in a brand’s products in order to have more opportunity for sales.

Third, Federici stated it’s important to not fall in love with your idea. Rather, brands should focus on finding consumer pain points and addressing their problems.

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“Besides making the money, it’s more rewarding to make meaning and I think we did that with [John Frieda] Frizz Ease and Sheer Blonde products and now Color Wow,” she said. “They all resonated with the consumer. It all addressed pain points and it worked. I think if you do something that makes a difference and changes people’s lives, you’re off to a great start.”

Federici then stressed the importance of a brand’s communication to consumers. Especially for start-ups with low capital that can’t rival the traditional TV or print advertising of larger companies, Federici stated, “if you can’t outspend, you have to outthink. When you solve a problem the proof is in the pudding, so a picture is worth a thousand words and if you can show that on Facebook or Instagram, it doesn’t cost a lot of money and you can get really great results.”

She ended the talk by stating that having a mentor will help the brand be more successful.

“For me, having a mentor helps you not to reinvent the wheel,” she said. “People have been there and done that and they’ve made mistakes that you might make and they can keep you from making the same ones.”

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