For more than 30 years, Frédéric Fekkai has maintained a visual presence in the beauty arena. In 1989, the Provence-born hair guru opened the first luxury salon and spa atop Bergdorf Goodman where his talent and eye for detail quickly drew an impressive celebrity clientele. Additional salons followed; seven to be exact. Award-winning products, including his hair care collection, Fekkai, followed. Yet things haven’t always been shiny. Frédéric sold his business several times and even tried to buy it back when he saw it being mismanaged. Shifting gears, Frédéric persevered and found success again in 2015, when he and his wife bought an existing heritage brand, Bastide. The company makes artisanal body and home products using 100% non-toxic ingredients inspired by the lifestyle of Frédéric’s hometown, Aix-en-Provence. In November,Frédéric re-acquired his namesake brand in partnership with Cornell Capital LLC from a group of investors, and is now set to embark on a journey to reignite its luxury heritage in a modern way. Thankfully, Frederic found time to talk to with CEW’s Beauty Insider for our 5 Minutes With… feature.

BI: A lot has happened over the years for you, can you give a very brief history on your brand?

FF: I introduced my product range in 1995 as part of a joint venture with Chanel that lasted almost a decade. Then it was acquired by Catterton Partners, followed by Procter & Gamble in 2008. In 2015 P&G sold Fekkai Brands in a joint venture controlled by Designer Parfums and Luxe Brands. Now, in 2018 I’ve partnered with Cornell Capital to re-acquire Fekkai Brands to guide it into its next chapter.

BI: What is the very first thing you want to do to your brand?

FF: I think our salons are the biggest marketing tool we have right now; that in-salon experience is one you can’t buy online. We’re in talks about launching global salons and pop-ups in key markets; that’s one of our main focuses right now.

BI: What can you tell us about the brand now?

FF: Fekkai Brands and Bastide will be based in New York. (Bastide production is based in Provence). I am the chief executive officer of Blue Mistral, our holding company which owns both Fekkai and Bastide. I’m eager to reconnect with the salons, teams and consumers to reignite growth and guide Fekkai through its next chapter in a modern and exciting way.

BI: What channels are you targeting?

FF: I want to build a bigger digital presence for the brand, but that’s not the only channel we’re targeting. We have a great partnership with Ulta Beauty with The One by Frederic Fekkai and that touch, feel, smell experience in-store has been great for acquiring new customers. In addition to our multi-channel approach, we’ll further accelerate brand growth by placing emphasis on education, innovation and the customer’s overall experience.

BI: What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned over the years?

FF: Surround yourself with the best people you can find. My team has been one of the most important factors in the success of both my brands, and they continuously motivate me.

BI: Greatest accomplishment thus far?

FF: Aside from building my wonderful family, my greatest accomplishment is the creation of my brands and building a network of fantastic friends and employees that have supported me along the way.

BI: Biggest mistake you’ve made?

FF: To second guess myself when I receive various pieces of advice from the people around me. Now I seek advice for inspiration or influence, but not for direction.

BI: What product (not your own) is your favorite and why?

FF: The Parsley Seed serum from Aesop is a beautiful and efficacious product.

BI: Best advice for newbies entering the business today?

FF: Have a sound and passionate story – that’s something that will always be invaluable to your business. Surround yourself with people who believe in your concept and want to see you succeed.

BI: What’s something no one tells you when starting a business?

FF: How important execution is. Having a great idea is one thing, but the hard work comes while realizing an idea. Also, no one tells you how easy it is to spend money!

BI: What’s a mantra you live by?

FF: Be transparent. Be true to yourself. Show who you are through your actions and not just your words.

BI: If you were to write the note found in a fortune cookie, what would it say?

FF: To live gently is to live well.