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Critical Mass: Harvey Alstodt Launches MBA Beauty

After sitting out of the industry for a few years, and overcoming health issues, Alstodt is roaring into business with an entrepreneurial upstart.

NEW YORK — Harvey Alstodt knows a thing or two about nail polish.

After all, he helped sell millions of bottles of nail color for more than 20 years with Del Laboratories’ Sally Hansen before Coty acquired the company four years ago. At that time, he was president of the global beauty division.

After sitting out of the industry for a few years, and overcoming health issues, Alstodt is roaring into business with an entrepreneurial upstart called MBA Beauty. Why that name? “Because we all are masters in beauty at the company,” quipped Alstodt at a recent trade show.

Lacking huge marketing budgets and vast research laboratories he had at his fingertips at Del, Alstodt hopes to secure footage with innovation. His first category of attack is, naturally, nail color. The timing is good, he said, since nail is undergoing dramatic growth.  Major salon brands such as Essie and OPI now have new owners with the potential to expand the brands at mass.  Revlon, not to be outdone, acquired budget color trendsetter Sinful. Despite this formidable competition, Alstodt thinks there is room for his entries, too.

Nail growth is impressive, expanding 11.6 percent in drugstores alone for the 52-week period ended March 20, according to SymphonyIRI Group data.

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Those numbers are not wasted on Alstodt, who, at a time when some executives would be kicking back and relaxing, is clawing his way back into the category. He has enviable contacts to leverage to help his upstart firm keep up with the big brands. When word spread he was in attendance at a trade show, buyers dropped what they were doing to seek him out. His booth because a refuge for weary convention goers with a relaxation oasis with its comfortable couch and palm trees.  While there, many also were impressed with his new items.

Already his debut nail collection, Confetti, is selling briskly in CVS at a keen price point of $1.99. Confetti caught the eye of bloggers, who wrote about the edgy colors, long wear and fair price point. A more upscale launch called 10 Professional is also getting notice at CVS at a price of $4.99.

Altsodt and his team have an arsenal of other nail color ideas currently being presented to major accounts including Pic-a-Colour, a wheel-type gift pack in varying size packages ranging from 12 colors priced at $14.99 to 18 pieces sold for $19.99. Despite the value pricing, Alstodt said the varnishes are top quality.

 

“There are no thinners, no DPP and the formulas are toluene free,” said Alstodt.

And, although Alstodt has been a cornerstone of the industry for many years, he’s embracing the latest in marketing tools including bloggers, Twitter and other social media avenues. There’s even one color promotion with names borrowed from texting lexicon.

For 2012, MBA hopes to provide key promotional activity in nail color with collections such as Nail Candies to play off candy colors as well as novel packages. One that caught the eye of several buyers is a light-up application, which Alstodt said could work in nail and lipsticks. Calling it Spotlight, MBA will offer applicators with lights in lip for about $10 and in nail for $9. Don’t think about just using the cap with other brands — it is a patented fit with MBA’s bottles.

In addition to its own inventions, Alstodt said the company is working with major retailers on store brands — a move that continues to swell as retailers look for exclusives to lure shoppers to doors.

“I’m really having fun with this,” said Alstodt. “There’s always a need for something new and clever. The shelves may be crowded, but if you have something consumers want, there’s always a need.”