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20 To Know

By: Karen A. Newman, Jeff Falk, Leslie Benson
Posted: January 7, 2009, from the January 2009 issue of GCI Magazine.

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With 40 years of experience across two continents, Robert (Bob) Dowdell has been witness to a sea of change in the industry. After a stint as quality manager for the U.K. operation of Charles of the Ritz Cosmetics in the 1970s, Dowdell managed the technical group of The Body Shop International Plc, reporting directly to Gordon and Anita Roddick. Dowdell cites those 16 years as both rewarding and life-changing. The exposure to meteoric year-on-year growth (the company achieved global sales of $500 million by the time Dowdell left) and experience in managing product development, manufacturing and quality at overseas manufacturing sites provided a reference point for future initiatives with which he would be involved.

In 2004, Dowdell met Deborah Duffey, the president of Dermazone Solutions, and joined the company when it moved to a pharmaceutical standard manufacturing facility. His work there has included the development of dermaCM, the company’s contract manufacturing and private label division, and he has become a wave in the industry’s sea of change with his role in the company’s development of a proprietary nanosphere delivery system—a sustained-release and delivery mechanism that has immediate ramifications for the beauty, pharmaceutical and beverage industries and ongoing ramifications as those fields continue to merge as cosmeceuticals and nutraceuticals.

“I have been fortunate to be involved in some very interesting companies in my career,” Dowdell says. “But two are very close to my heart—one being The Body Shop International in the U.K. and the other Dermazone Solutions. And for very similar reasons: excitement, professionalism and ethics.”

Kumar Ramani, President; Ujala Ghauri, Product Developer, Harvey Prince & Co.

For many beauty breakthroughs, innovation occurs from not just one individual’s creative laboring but from a team effort. That’s how the new women’s fragrance, Ageless, came into existence. Science, research and a drive to revive the prestige specialty market inspired Kumar Ramani, founder of Ageless Fantasy Inc., to lead a group at Harvey Prince & Co., including product developer Ujala Ghauri, who was “with it since the beginning,” to create the first women’s perfume to claim antiaging benefits. Launched in 2008 in the U.S., Europe and Asia, the brand’s stock sold out in less than six minutes during its November 2008 QVC debut, offering a proprietary citrus blend of pink grapefruit, mango, pomegranate, apple, jasmine, cherry blossom, musk and other youthful aromas in a tall, rectangular glass bottle.

“Our goal was to find a fragrance that women and men would associate with youth,” says Ramani, whose final formula, created in association with Stephanie Messing, consultant at Ungerer & Company, claims to make women smell three to eight years younger. The trick is not to mask a woman’s scent, he says, but to neutralize body odors caused by diet, illness and age. By neutralizing the noneal chemical produced by the body as it ages, which causes the perceived smell of a chronologically older woman, a clinical study discovered the tropical and citrus notes that cut the perceived age significantly. Now sold in high-end U.S. boutiques, U.K. Harvey Nichols stores and Asian department stores, Ageless is the first of what Ramani says could be a line of groundbreaking formulas, including a similar fragrance for men and a fragrance targeted for women in their 30s, determined globally by consumers’ needs. “We’re getting real results on a massive scale, not with focus groups,” says Ramani. “When we say this fragrance was designed by millions of people, we mean it!”

Montgomery Taylor, Founder, Montgomery Taylor Fragrances

An apt example of why this industry is exciting and maintains its vitality, Montgomery Taylor leveraged years of developing retail images as a store planner/designer, combined his experience with a ranging background of interests and relied on a bit of inspiration to bring Ambra di Venezia to the niche fragrance market.

Trained in architecture at Princeton University, Taylor worked for Young & Rubicam Brands, where he learned about marketing and sending brands into the world. He was then hired by Lancôme to create designs for Macy’s counters, among other retailers. There, he was introduced to products as a tangent. “Marketing would survey employees,” he says. “Then, I started going to product training, and was really intrigued by products.” Taylor’s interests brought him to Venice, Italy, where he studied glassblowing. The amber skies that greeted him after a day working with molten glass was the canopy that he felt linked him to the artisans who had focused on their art and techniques for centuries. Back in New York, he shared this experience with perfumer Rayda Vega, and set about creating a fragrance that captured his daily Italian experience.

“I knocked on doors to pitch bottles and fragrances. I went into it with a lot of naiveté,” he says. “What’s changed (since the initial launch in 1998) are that there are many more little guys. That’s a positive. Together, we have made a mark, and are recognized by the industry and consumers—and they do like what we do. They like finding something unique.”

Nikos Koutsianas, Founder, Apivita