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Beauty Firm’s Influencers Push Merger

Like many young beauty brands, three-year-old Bellami Hair has digital roots. The Simi Valley hair extension company recruits online “influencers” such as Kylie Jenner and Lily Ghalichi to model its products, racking up sales from the reality TV stars’ followers on Instagram and YouTube in the process. Now Bellami aims to leverage its online marketing tactics to become a bonafide cosmetics brand in brick-and-mortar stores. Founders Julius Salerno and Nikki Eslami have enlisted the guidance of industry veteran John Maly, who was appointed chief executive in September when Bellami acquired his Valencia luxury make-up firm Mirabella Beauty in addition to another local cosmetics company, LipLand. Maly, who grew his family’s hair product distributorship Maly’s Inc. to the third-largest in the country before selling it to L’Oreal S.A. in 2007, said the decision to make him chief executive was based on a shared vision of Bellami’s potential and a mutual need for each party’s skillsets. “Our challenge at Mirabella was that we didn’t have the influencer. Bellami has that in a big way: They really understand how to work with the influencer and which ones really are effective,” Maly said. “And Bellami didn’t have the brick-and-mortar knowledge when it came to working with SalonCentric and Cosmoprof (cosmetic distributors). That’s what I could bring to the table.” In addition to selling its products through professional salon distribution channels and retailers such as Ulta Salon, Cosmetics & Fragrance Inc., Bellami also plans to develop its own physical stores. The first outpost of Bellami Beauty Bar, which opened last year in West Hollywood, offers fans of the brand’s extensions a salon to have them clipped, taped or sewn in by a stylist. Bellami plans to open locations in New York, Miami, Houston and four other major cities in 2017. Mike Nave, a salon industry consultant and the publisher of trade newsletter “Beauty Industry Report,” believes Bellami’s social media savvy has positioned the company for rapid expansion. “Bellami is a hot company in the beauty business due to the huge following they have via their influencers. They dominate in hair extensions and have really done well in hot tools,” Nave said. “And because brick-and-mortar companies are seeking brands that can draw in shoppers, I expect them to grow very fast over the next five years.” For Maly, the most exciting aspect of the expansion is the opportunity to introduce Bellami’s products to a completely new market. “We feel like that a woman who’s not buying online is really waiting for us to be in brick-and-mortar, because that’s where she likes to shop,” Maly said. “That’s OK with us – we’re not picky.” – Helen Floersh

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