David Babaii doesn’t want to rule the world — he wants to help it.
The 34-year-old Los Angeles hairstylist, whose client list could be mistaken for an Academy Award-nominee roll call, has created the mass hair product line David Babaii for WildAid with Kate Hudson, his first celebrity regular. Ten percent of the line’s proceeds will be donated to WildAid, the animal protection organization, which shares ownership of the brand with Babaii, Hudson, advertising executive Eric Steinhauser and FHI Heat investor Eco Beauty Ventures.
“I wanted to do a line on my own, but I didn’t want to do the same thing. I want to make a difference,” said Babaii, whose current schedule features hair appointments with Angelina Jolie, Scarlett Johansson, Sarah Jessica Parker, Nicole Kidman and Gwyneth Paltrow.
David Babaii for WildAid should be a hit out of the gate. The line’s distribution is expected to reach 25,000 doors by November at chains such as Ralphs, CVS, Wal-Mart, Walgreens, Duane Reade, Ulta and Target, many of which Babaii said are merchandising products in endcaps or special sections. Babaii declined to disclose first-year sales, but industry sources estimate the line could generate $20 million in its first 12 months.
Twelve items are launching in stores next month, including a Mise en Plis Extra Hold Styling Spray for $20, Amplifying Whipped Mousse for $19, Volcanic Ash Sculpting Clay for $17, Hair Polish for $18 and Bohemian Beach Spray for $15. Shampoo and conditioners are available, too. Ingredients in the products include volcanic ash, white ginger, blue algae and shea and Cupuacu butters.
Babaii stressed that his products shouldn’t be difficult to integrate into daily regimens and won’t create buildup. “My philosophy is wash and go,” he explained. “Women shouldn’t be a slave to their hair, their hair should be a slave to them.” Babaii said he and Hudson will put on so-called “shampoo parties” across the country to demonstrate the products to consumers.
David Babaii for WildAid products are sulfate-, paraben-, petroleum- and petrochemical- free, and are packaged in recycled plastic. The line is billed as natural, but not organic. “I don’t think every organic line out there is good. If we had gone with organic, I don’t think the technology is quite there yet,” said Babaii.
This story first appeared in the March 21, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The line’s advertising campaign is centered on Hudson, who traveled with Babaii to South Africa in November to be filmed and photographed with animals by Peter Lindbergh. Ads will begin to run in June and July print publications and on television.
The initial launch will be followed up in August and September with 14 additional items that concentrate on deep conditioning and styling. Tools will be also be part of lineup in the future, and Babaii mentioned one curling iron that will sense when it gets too close to the scalp. Babaii and Hudson are not stopping with hair: Makeup, skin care, pet products and perhaps even kids’ clothes are on the horizon.