Interest in the blow-out bar sector of the hair market continues to grow from both a consumer and industry standpoint. Case in point: the recent purchase of Blowpro by Basim Shami, CEO of Farouk Systems, Inc. “It was love at first sight,” said Basel Badran, Blowpro’s new general manager. “The blow-out industry hasn’t matured yet and we’re proud to be at the forefront.”
The acquisition seems a natural fit, considering Farouk’s success in the hair tools arena, most notably with the Chi line. (Indeed, a Blowpro hairdryer—the company’s first foray into tools—is in the works.) Blowpro is the first brand to become part of Beauty Elite Group, a new company Basim has founded. “Our goal is to build an entire portfolio of unique brands that we can grow,” Basel explained. “We think this is going to be the first of many acquires.”
Although Blowpro has become known for its hair care products—like a heat protective primer to use pre-blow-out and a dry texturizing spray—the company, founded in the mid-2000s, was initially focused on blow-out bars, something now very much at the forefront. Blow, the first ever salon with that dedicated focus, opened in a former antique store in New York City’s Meatpacking District in 2005. “I discovered a white space in the marketplace: eight out of 10 women in the U.S. blew dry their hair but there were no services catering to them,” explained Stuart Sklar, Blowpro’s founder, who built his professional career at L’Oreal, Avon and Coty. “Traditional salons really didn’t look at blow-outs as anything important, other than a finishing, so I had an ‘aha’ moment. From the first couple of months we knew were onto something significant.”
Although blow quickly resonated with customers, Stuart admitted that starting a company isn’t easy. “When you’re used to working with tons of resources and infrastructure, there are people, there’s money, there are tons of ways of executing an idea,” he says. “When you have limited funds and limited resources, both human and financial, you can just do so much, so you have to pace yourself and you have to learn to say no, which is tougher than saying yes. There’s so much opportunity to develop and build and market a business that you have to be very disciplined with your plan; you have to be very focused and you have to keep your eye on the ball.”
A few years after opening blow, a product line, Blowpro, was launched; it is still successful and sold at Ulta, HSN, Nordstrom and Macy’s Herald Square. In 2011, Stuart sold part of the company to entrepreneur David Maleh; the balance of the company was sold to Farouk’s Beauty Elite Group in May.
Stuart feels Beauty Elite Group is the ideal company to own blow. “It was just a very natural fit,” he said. “They’re hair care experts and they’re compatible in their distribution and salons. It was nice synergy and they know the space.” Stuart intended to take the summer off, but instead—having been approached by several companies—is consulting at the moment. “I love the industry and I don’t want to retire,” he said. “I love keeping busy. I’m keeping my options open for the future.”
As essentially the inventor of the blow-out bar, Stuart said he is happy for the success of thriving blow-out chains such as Alli Webb’s Drybar. “It’s a different strategy and it’s very good branding,” he said. “Our services were more flagship orientated—they took it and commercialized the blow-out. I don’t mean that in a derogatory way at all. As they grew, now blow dry bars are popping up everywhere, so this movement was sort of validated.”