FHI tools

The owner of hair tools business FHI Brands is suing the company’s former chief executive officer, alleging he violated confidentiality related to trade secrets.

Luxury Brands LLC filed a lawsuit against Shauky Gulamani in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California, WWD has learned. FHI makes a range of heat-styling tools, including hair dryers, flat irons, curling irons and styling brushes. FHI was acquired by Luxury Brands in November.

Luxury Brands alleges that Gulamani started a competing hair tools business, Life Marketing, while still at FHI, and collected company secrets and recruited FHI employees to his new business.

The suit names Gulamani; his business, Life Marketing Group, and former FHI employees Shawn Kochendorfer and Shirley Jung as defendants, and alleges the group violated trade secrets, breached fiduciary duties, violated a computer fraud and abuse act, breached contracts and created unfair competition.

“At some point after January 8, 2016 and before May of 2017, while still serving as president and chief executive officer of FHI Brands, Gulamani decided to start a hair care and tool business (Life Marketing) to directly compete with FHI Brands,” Luxury Brands alleges in the lawsuit. “Instead of building his new venture with his own efforts, research, development, capital, products and sourcing…Gulamani decided to use the confidential, proprietary and trade secret information of FHI Brands,” the suit continues.

The suit goes on to allege Gulamani copied and took documents related to new products, development, testing data, marketing research and data, among other things, and that Kochendorfer and Jung sent him some of the information.

The suit also claims Gulamani “delayed or cancelled the launch of several new products that FHI Brands had in development, only to launch them immediately upon the formation of Life Marketing.” In an example, Luxury Brands said Life Marketing is selling a detangling brush called The Only Brush and flatiron called Beyond — Flatiron Silicone/Charcoal Ceramic Hair Styler that had been researched and developed at FHI. Luxury Brands also alleges Gulamani delayed product launches to “usurp” them for Life Marketing.

Luxury Brands contends Gulamani told industry insiders that FHI was going out of business, used his business credit card to meet with suppliers on behalf of Life Marketing, met with FHI employees to try to get them to come to work for Life Marketing, and more. Luxury Brands alleges Jung helped get product samples to Gulamani, through Kochendorfer.

Luxury Brands is seeking injunctive relief to “protect” its trade secrets, plus damages.

Gulamani and Life Marketing did not respond to requests for comment.