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Inside Reuben Carranza’s Melodic Mind

The seasoned executive balances out his professional life with the mastery of multiple instruments — and the occasional mariachi gig.

The beauty business is an instrument Reuben Carranza plays by ear.

The veteran executive, who spent 23 years at Procter & Gamble before leaving to helm brands including R+Co., Olaplex and, most recently, Kate Somerville, is joining Bansk-acquired Amika and Eva NYC as chief executive officer in July. He’s esteemed for his ability to scale brands, an ability that capitalizes on the left-brain, right-brain synergy that he’s mastered as a lifelong mariachi musician.

“I’m a right-brain person in a left-brain profession,” Carranza said. “My music is what helps balance that creative part of my life from the day-to-day business part. I’m not a hairdresser doing hair, I’m not a makeup artist and I’m not an aesthetician. My creativity comes out in a different way.”

As it happens, musicality runs in the family. Carranza’s exposure to the craft started young. “My dad was a musician, but he wasn’t classically trained. He learned by ear. He played guitar, and we grew up with music around us all the time,” he said, of his childhood in Arizona. “Every weekend, there was some family event, and in those events, my dad would play and sing. Music was just a part of our family life, a part of my growing up.”

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Carranza didn’t just listen. He also learned to play. Around the age of five, he and his brother learned guitar, and a few years later, joined a youth mariachi group his father founded. “There were interested kids in the neighborhood, and we had a music coach doing the training,” he said.

That passion continued into school — and wasn’t limited to just one instrument. “I joined band and played the trumpet, and I played the guitar in the youth mariachi band. Then, I picked up the violin because I loved it, and learned the violin by ear and joined the symphony. When I was in junior high, the first international mariachi competition happened in San Antonio, Texas. We won first prize for the youth category,” he continued.

Music is a passion that’s followed him throughout his career. Carranza paid for college by performing in a professional mariachi group, when he joined the music union as a paid musician.

Today, the executive still performs on a quarterly basis in L.A. and practices often. “I play one of my instruments at least two or three times during the week, it’s typically that I’m practicing, or learning by ear, or trying to pick up other genres,” he said. “I’m having a lot of time right now with my violin, I’m trying to learn more on the symphony side. The guitar, I do quite a bit, and I gig with local mariachis.”

Carranza’s influences are equally as wide-ranging, from Barbra Streisand and Amy Winehouse to Mexican vocalist Luis Miguel. “Rihanna is also on my playlist,” he said. “It’s a really eclectic mix of genres, but it’s all centered around vocalists.”

With as many instruments as he plays, Carranza is still broadening his musical horizons. “I’m a singer, and I have grand aspirations to learn the piano. That will happen at some point,” he said.

As he prepares for his new role leading  Amika and Eva NYC, brands that are said to have a combined sales volume of $150 million this year, it’s his skills as a musician he’s relying on. “When I became an executive, I learned how to very quickly hit the ground running because I knew how to take command of a room,” he said. “I had to do that as a musician. It’s had an influence of that nature, both on the professional side and on the creative side.”

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