NEW YORK — Covering up pesky roots continues to make some women feel like they’re slaves to the beauty salon. But Ruth Stern and Pauline Ashworth are out to at least free up some time between touch-up visits with The Mixer, an at-home permanent coloring application from Colour Revolution, their new Toronto-based beauty firm.

What makes The Mixer different from other root touch-up items on the market, such as ColorMark and Clairol Root Touch Up, is its dual-chamber applicator. The syringe-type item, which was inspired by a dental whitening tool, was tweaked to accommodate hair color in one chamber and developer in the other. No mixing is required for the formulas, which are pre-dispensed in each chamber and take 30 minutes to work on roots. The patent-pending applicator is meant to be aimed directly at roots around the face, the zipper (a middle part) and the crown. It is not intended for all-over hair color coverage, just these three main areas, but confident hair colorers can experiment, Stern said.

The applicators are wrapped in gold pouches, which are designed to keep products fresh for one year. Once a pouch is broken, Stern advises that the products be used right away, although they will remain fresh for up to six months.

Because Stern and Ashworth come from retail and manufacturing backgrounds, they decided to outsource everything regarding their new effort. Stern hails from retailers, including Contempo Casuals and Nutrition House. Ashworth most recently owned and operated a small luxury hotel in Scotland, which she has since sold.

“We were used to dealing with manufacturers’ limitations, so we hired people to do what they are best at … the best hair color maker, the best person to make the applicators,” said Stern.

There are six shades available for women and three for men, which the pair assures will match 99 percent of those looking to color their hair. The applicator, a smoothing brush and an instruction booklet are included in each kit, which will retail for $26.

The Mixer is slated for distribution in specialty stores and spas, as well as in high-end department stores, at the end of October.

“They have people on the floor who can explain the product. This can’t be a pick-up item,” said Ashworth.

This story first appeared in the July 28, 2006 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

No retail commitments had been received at press time, but the two said they are targeting stores such as Nordstrom and Sephora. Stern and Ashworth are confident The Mixer will interest buyers: “Stores are looking for items, not necessarily brands,” said Stern.

Based on U.S. and international distribution estimates, industry sources said The Mixer could generate as much as $20 million in sales by the end of 2007.

In order to best position The Mixer as a beauty item — not merely a hair color product — displays are being designed to hold extra-large swatches of hair so consumers can touch, feel and play with different hair color choices. Perhaps its best selling point is its portability: A pouch can be thrown into a handbag and taken on a long vacation or a business trip.

The Mixer, which is packaged in a combination of turquoise and deep brown boxes, will use its Web site and soon-to-be-created blog to generate word of mouth among consumers, as well as to exchange ideas on how best to use the product, such as how to get more than one application out of a syringe. The founders have also hired a “creative director of influences,” a person they describe as someone with business experience as well as contacts in social and fund-raising circles. Roxanne LaBrie has been charged with the task in Toronto, and she has been instructed to hand out as much product as she wants to “people with influence.”

Stern and Ashworth are looking for a similar person in the U.S.

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