NEW YORK — A hair demonstration by British hairstylist Lee Stafford at a Midtown Duane Reade store last Friday was pleasantly interrupted by a middle-age woman with his trademark pink hair care products in hand.

This story first appeared in the May 25, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

“I’m already purchasing. Can I have your autograph?” she asked. “I know the products from England and I work right around the corner so I’ll be back often.”

Her words put a twinkle in Stafford’s eye and set the tone for the U.S. launch of his line, called The Pink Range, which recently rolled out nationwide at Ulta chainwide and at Duane Reade stores in New York.

As Stafford curled a model’s tresses for a tousled beach hair look, he flirted with customers and offered suggestions to solve hair problems. Most purchased his product recommendations.

While known for styling the likes of the Rolling Stones, Avril Lavigne and Dido, Stafford is often likened to a rock star in the hair world. He got his start in retail after he won the Men’s British Hair Dresser of the Year award in 1997 and was approached by his now business partner Graeme Riddick to launch a line in Boots. One of the goals the duo had was to attract younger users to stylists’ brands. According to Stafford, The Pink Range is the fastest growing hair care brand in Boots in the U.K.

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“I wanted to be able to bring my expertise in hair care to women in the U.S. and thought what better way than to introduce them to my products,” said Stafford.

Celebrity hairstylist brands — namely Frédéric Fekkai, Sally Hershberger and John Frieda — helped put a bounce back into the U.S. mass market shampoo business. According to Symphony/IRI Group statistics, shampoo sales are trending up about 4 percent over last year.

American merchants hope Stafford can build upon the growing stylist base. “We are so pleased to add the Lee Stafford collection of hair care products at Ulta Beauty,” said Ulta senior vice president of merchandising Janet Taake. “We know that the line is popular in Europe and we welcome the opportunity to make it easy for Lee Stafford fans to find the products in the United States at our stores and at The light-hearted product names, combined with their effective results, make this brand a perfect fit for Ulta,” she added, referring to names, such as Messed Up and Ruff as You Like It.

Walgreens’ Joe Magnacca, president of daily living products and solutions, echoed that thought and said the brand fits snuggly with Duane Reade’s positioning in the New York market in offering brands shoppers can’t find in other stores.

The large windows at the Duane Reade store on 57th Street set a stage for gawkers to peek in and many bald men pointed to their heads and asked if Stafford had anything for them. Without missing a beat, he held up his Hair Growth Treatment. One Hair Growth Treatment is sold ever 60 seconds around the world, according to the company.

The products, merchandised with other stylists’ brands, are priced from $7.99 to $14.99 and include items such as a new ArganOil, Beach Babe Sea Salt Spray, a dry shampoo, Beach Blonde and Blinding Brunette Shampoos.

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