Byline: Julie Naughton

NEW YORK — With the money deals over — for now, anyway — Bumble and Bumble founder Michael Gordon is ready to get down to business.
The business of creating new products, that is.
Gordon, who sold a majority percentage of his business to Estee Lauder in early June, isn’t letting any grass grow under his feet. As the Lauder team — headed by Patrick Bousquet-Chavanne, president of Estee Lauder International — plots Bumble’s international blitz, Gordon and his team — which includes minority partners Daniel Kaner and Tevya Finger — are hard at work creating new products.
Their newest offering is Color Support, a 15-stockkeeping-unit color care line that is rolling out now. It is the largest single Bumble product collection in the company’s history.
The line is slated for a slow rollout. “We’re requiring the salons that carry it to go through education first,” said Gordon. It previewed to one salon late this spring and is available in five salons now. It will make its way to Bumble’s domestic salon distribution within the next six months, with full distribution expected by February. Domestically, Bumble products are sold in 1,400 top-level salons, as well as in a small number of specialty retailers, including Fred Segal Essentials and Jeffrey New York.
The line consists of five three-step systems, each with a shampoo, a conditioner and a styling lotion. Color Support for Cool Blondes, Silver and White keeps cool tones pure by counteracting yellow hues. Color Support for Golden Blondes helps warm glows and highlights — which often fade and lose luster — stay rich. Color Support for True Reds keeps orange and blue-based hues true. Color Support for Cool Brunettes prevents unwanted redness on cool blue-green brunettes. And Color Support for Warm Brunettes prevents spicy highlights and warm tones from cooling off.
The shampoos are extra-mild, with low pH formulas. “This allows the shampoo to leave a bare trace of color to enhance the shade, without damaging it or changing the hair’s color,” said Gordon. The conditioners soften and improve elasticity, while the styling lotions protect from blow-dry damage, nourish hair with vitamins and add shine, he said. Each sku retails for $18 for 8 ounces.
Gordon wouldn’t discuss sales projections, but industry sources estimated that the new line would add at least $3 million to Bumble’s bottom line by yearend. Industry sources, who estimated that the complete Bumble product line generated $30 million at retail last year, said Bumble’s new product introductions could double retail sales this year. At the beginning of 2000, the Bumble line comprised 30 stockkeeping units; it will nearly double by yearend. The namesake salon reportedly generates about $5 million annually.
While the color care line is Gordon’s biggest news, he and his team have many more products in the pipeline. Next up is South Surf Spray, a salt-water spray designed to provide light hold, a matte texture and what Gordon calls a “sun-baked” quality. “Your hair will feel like you’ve just spent a day at the beach,” he said. Carrying the beach theme through, the spray — which rolls out next month — includes kelp and algae extracts for added moisture and manageability. It retails for $15 for 4 ounces.
Bumble’s also going deeper into hair accessories, a category it accidentally entered in spring 1998. The team had improvised a bra-strap headband for the fall 1998 Moschino show in Milan in March 1998. Response was so strong, Gordon said, that the team decided to manufacture them and began selling them in May 1998. Although they’ve been copied far and wide at all price points, Bumble’s sold more than 30,000 of them to date at $9.99 a pop.
Going forward, there will be more of a fashion approach to the category, said Gordon, with colors and styles cycling in and out of the collection. Black will be a constant, while other colors will come and go. This will be especially noticeable in the Ultra Band grouping — the wide, UltraSuede headbands were launched this past March. First available in a variety of colors like fawn, lavender, red and celadon, they will be re-created this fall in a zebra print, available in three color combinations: Kenya, a black/white combo; Congo, in orange/slate; and Zanzibar, in rose/bordeaux. Three solids — ivory, indigo and plum — will also be available. Each will retail for $25.
Just to prove that he’s not taking himself too seriously, Gordon’s also launching gold and silver leather headbands with a lame finish for winter. The $60 bands are “definitely not a basic,” he said wryly.

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