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Sunday, Sep 25, 2022
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Harvesting Profits

In a San Fernando Valley cosmetics industry dense with high-priced international brands, Pravana International LLC is making its mark. The Woodland Hills company has seen success with stylists by distributing a product line of less expensive but still professional-quality shampoos, conditioners and other products, including 107 shades of hair color. The company’s future, though, may lie 4,500 miles away. Pravana is led by industry veteran Steve Goddard, who knows all about what brings cachet to salon products: a combination of exclusivity and the exotic. And he figures his newest line has just about got that nailed. The Nevo line features an array of pricier products that includes oils from the Mulatiero tree and Babassu palm, which are exclusive to the Amazon rainforest – and harvested on a 35-acre ranch owned by Goddard’s Brazilian partner. “This line is the cornerstone of our growth. It offers the ultimate level of purity and gives us endless opportunity,” boasts Goddard. Whether or not the new line is all it’s cracked up to be remains to be seen. But this much is true: the company’s business has been growing fast enough that Goddard is moving from two separate offices on Ventura Boulevard near Valley Circle Boulevard totaling about 4,000 square feet to twice as much space at 20750 Ventura Blvd., just a few miles away. The company has 16 in-house employees and 12 outside sales people. Pravana products can be found in all 50 U.S. states, in addition to 16 foreign countries, including Australia, China and Thailand. Goddard expects sales to exceed $23 million this year, which would represent an 18 percent increase from the near $20 million the company made last year. Brad Masterson, a spokesman for the Professional Beauty Association, an industry trade group in Scottsdale, Ariz., said exotic ingredients are all the rage in the beauty and cosmetics industry. Currently, extracts from the Argan tree, which grows only in the Sous Valley in southwest Morocco, is the hottest product. Masterson said he hadn’t even heard of the Brazilian oils Pravana is harvesting, but expects that people will seek it out. “Exotic ingredients are always big,” he said. “People in this industry love new and unique.” Veteran executive Goddard, 62, started Pravana in 2004 out of his home in Bell Canyon with one idea in mind: all-natural hair care. At the time, the wave of companies offering products free of sulfates and parabens, a chemical preservative, was just starting to take shape. He financed the business out of his savings accumulated from 30 years in the industry, but didn’t take a salary for the first four years and took a second mortgage out on his home. Goddard, who has a cosmetology certificate from the West Valley Occupational Center in Woodland Hills, got his first job in the late 1970s with Redken, a major hair product brand. He eventually rose to be senior vice president of marketing and advertising, before the company was later sold to cosmetics juggernaut L’Oreal Paris. He then worked for Revlon Inc. of New York and several other well-known brands, eventually becoming chief executive at Sebastian International, a professional brand owned by Procter & Gamble Co. of Cincinnati. But he said creativity was limited in the high-level executive positions, and he itched to be involved in product creation. “My job became about PowerPoint presentations,” he said. “This is what I want to be doing.” Pravana offers a full array or hair care products, ranging from volumizing foam that provides better texture for hair, to the exotic Nevo line. The lines are not available for purchase in mass market retail stores. “Salons just don’t want to carry products that CVS has,” he said. Pravana’s products are manufactured in Guadalajara, Mexico and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, at contract factories. They are then shipped to a facility in Laredo, Texas for worldwide distribution. Pravana hair color comes in three-ounce tubes and sells to stylists for $3.99 – about half of what Redken sells its colors for. Daniel Robb, a stylist at Cloutier Le Salon in Sherman Oaks, swears by the line. After using Redken hair color for more than 15 years, he switched to Pravana last year. “It’s like Christmas,” he said. “The product is really unique and impressive. And the colors are beautiful.” Jungle business The seven-item Nevo line was released in October and is made possible by Goddard’s minority partner, Federico Padilla, a private businessman from Brazil. The two were introduced by Felix Cabrera, Pravana’s vice president of international sales, who worked with Padilla in distributing cosmetics to Mexico more than 20 years ago. Padilla has a home and small manufacturing facility in Amazon rainforest, giving Pravana access to a supply of exotic oils. Goddard said his partner purchased the 35 or so acres about two years ago. “You can’t reach him. I can’t reach him,” he said. “There’s good and bad of having a partner who lives in the jungle.” The Mulatiero tree is native to the Amazon and has a distinctive canopy with white aromatic flowers. It can grow up to 100 feet tall. The oil is extracted from the tree bark. Babassu oil is a light yellow vegetable oil extracted from the seeds of the Babassu Palm, which is also native to the Amazon. Babassi oil is used in several of the Nevo line’s products, including its Hydra Pearls, a capsule of oil that Goddard said provides excellent moisture and shine to hair. All products in the Nevo line sell for about $19, and vary in size from 10-ounce bottles of shampoo to a tiny bottle of 45 oil capsules. Goddard said 73 percent of his income stems from the far cheaper 107 shades of hair color the company makes, which includes expected varietals of brown, blonde and red, in addition to a line of Vivids and Pastels. Goddard is working on registering with the European Union, which would open up distribution into a massive market. Masterson from the Professional Beauty Association said hair color is still the biggest business in hair. In a 2011 market survey the association conducted, hair color was a $775 million business, far exceeding shipments in hair care or styling. “It’s high margin and a huge part of the whole industry,” he said.

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