Hairstory is about to debut its largest product expansion.
The business, which garnered a following for its hair cleanser New Wash, is rolling out two new versions and several styling products in its biggest series of product launches.
New Wash lives in a new category of hair cleanser, according to Hairstory chairman and chief executive officer Eli Halliwell, and is formulated with a different type of amphiphilic molecule that aims to cleanse hair without stripping it. After scrubbing with New Wash, fatty chains are left attached to the hair, but oil and dirt are not, according to Halliwell.
“The same substance that does the cleansing does the conditioning,” Halliwell said. “That’s part of the magic, but it turns out it’s not magic, it’s just very simple chemistry.”
The two new New Washes — Deep and Rich — target customers who either rarely wash their hair or those with greasier hair who wash every day, according to Halliwell.
Rich is targeted toward people who want more moisture, Halliwell said. “It cleans less and conditions more,” he said, because the water-loving side of the product’s core amphiphilic molecule is weaker and more fatty chains stay with the hair instead of being washed away. Deep, aimed at those who wash more frequently or have trouble veering away from traditional shampoo, works the other way around, with molecules that are more strongly pulled away by water. The product is easier to distribute on the hair and scalp, and easier to rinse, Halliwell said.
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On the styling end of the spectrum, Hairstory is launching three new stylers on July 1. They are Lift, $38, a styling mist; Wax, $34, and Powder, $36, a translucent powder similar to dry shampoo.
The styling product launch came because of demands from Hairstory’s salon partners, Haliwell said. “When they’re doing certain people’s hair, the need to have a wax, or they need a product that’s going to give them some lift — they need a powder, a dry shampoo,” he noted.
Hairstory is primarily sold through about 700 salon partners that can buy an opening order kit for as little as $115. Hairstory works with those salons and stylists to make sure that if their clients come purchase from the brand online — its only other point of distribution — they get the same margin (25 percent) as if they sold the product themselves, Halliwell said.
That salon-centric model is what got Halliwell, who was with Bumble and bumble in the early Aughts, back into the hair category (he’d gone into finance). Bumble and bumble founder Michael Gordon and several other former Bumble employees had gone and created a business with the New Wash formulation, which Halliwell essentially acquired to form the current company, he explained.
Hairstory’s new launches are expected to double the size of the business by the end of 2018, according to Halliwell — bringing sales to around $16 million. Right now, the business is backed by a group of individual investors (including Gordon, who has since left the business) with deep pockets, and Halliwell is explicitly clear that the company’s planned trajectory (it is already profitable) doesn’t include looking to new investors or going public, and is more about geographic expansion and finding its “peeps.”
The business is in the process of having a site that works in local language and local currency in 22 countries within the next six months. “The goal really is to create a brand for like-minded people…and it’s going to be some portion of every population in the world,” Halliwell said. “The goal is not to dominate any distribution or geography, I just want to find our peeps, you know, and if we find them and deliver them a good product and we can sustain our business and deliver some returns to our investors, I think everyone should be happy.”