Last December, Kao USA snapped up Oribe Hair Care from Luxury Brand Partners. Daniel Kaner, cofounder and copresident of Oribe has another way of looking at the deal. “I like to think we joined Kao,” said Kaner on the beauty industry-focused podcast called “Where Brains Meet Beauty” hosted by Jodi Katz, founder and creative director of Base Beauty Creative Agency.
In one of his first interviews since the acquisition, Kaner elaborated why he still feels as connected to the brand as before the sale. “It is a continuum and I think today we are getting close to who we are as a company,” Kaner told Katz. “We have shared values and I’ll continue my role serving the hundred team members that I have serving the clients that we do business with. I’ll do it with the same passion as when we started the business because I love it.”
Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but industry sources estimated Kao shelled out between $400 million and $430 million for the brand founded by hairstylist Oribe Canales with Kaner and Tevya Finger of Luxury Brand Partners in 2008. Selling to a giant corporation doesn’t raise concern on Kaner’s part about losing the Oribe heritage. “We chose Kao. I started speaking with them in 2011,” he explained. The two powers have worked together through an educational alliance formed three years ago. “We’re a group with similar values. They believe in the same things that we do. [We] have the same value to [put] our customer right at the center,” Kaner said. He added Kao is in the professional hair business singling out its Goldwell hair-color brand.
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Beyond the future of Oribe under Kao, Kaner also discussed his role models, his family and why he chose the hair business. His father is one of his inspirations. “He had a positive energy that was so important growing up,” said Kaner of his dad. Kaner added he spreads his dad’s enthusiasm throughout his own family — wife Sonia Kashuk, the creator of the beauty brand that bears her name, and their two children. Kaner’s career has spanned several powerful hair care brands including Aveda, Bumble and bumble and Oribe. He paid tribute to Horst Rechelbacher, the founder of Aveda, who nurtured Kaner’s love of the beauty business. “Horst is no longer with us, but he’s blending fragrance in heaven. He was never business as usual,” he recalled. Through Aveda, Kaner was welcomed into the Bumble group where he got hooked on the professional segment of the hair care business that eventually led to Oribe. He recollected his meeting at Neiman Marcus with Hazel Wyatt, the buyer at the time when the brand was only in its infancy.
“I didn’t have a bottle. I didn’t have the fragrance. I didn’t have product for her to test,” he said. Still he walked away with a commitment from Neiman to take on Oribe. His secret? He had the confidence that Oribe was going to be great — the team had assembled the best labs and resources. And Kaner has never been one to give up on his vision. “My dad always told me, know what it looks like and you’ll be able to achieve it. If you don’t know, you’ll never reach your ending or your destination.” The full podcast, which goes live Feb. 14 at 10 a.m., digs deeper into his business strategies, his passions, what motivates him and life as part of Kao.