The 51st Door

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“Successful people do the things that unsuccessful people don’t want to do,” said John Paul DeJoria, Paul Mitchell co-founder, during a sometimes funny, sometimes nerve-racking Cosmoprof Beauty Pitch event in Las Vegas (full event coverage to come in the October issue).

The session, which also featured entrepreneur Mark Cuban, was modeled on ABC Television’s “Shark Tank” competitive entrepreneur show. As a series of hopeful beauty innovators presented their products and technologies on stage, Cuban and DeJoria dispensed wisdom and tough questions, while highlighting what it takes to make a startup succeed.

Time and again, DeJoria returned to the theme of resiliency, noting that true passion requires you to make your pitch just as energetic and enthusiastic when knocking on the 51st door as it was when you knocked on the first.

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This level of belief and persistence, he noted, is what often separates success and failure. (This attitude is definitely not a put-on. During a private interview after the session, DeJoria, 71, mentioned that he’d just returned from a trip with his son to Mount Kilimanjaro [elevation: 19,300 feet]).

During Beauty Pitch, the presenters were repeatedly pressed on the differentiating qualities of their brands. Both Cuban and DeJoria said that the clarity of a brand’s story is key to success. This insight resonated with an interview I recently conducted with trèStiQue co-founder Jennifer Kapahi .

In conversation, she explained that her brand is all about multifunctionality, ease and portability.
“In a saturated marketplace you need to have a clear and decisive brand message and point of difference in order to cut through the clutter,” Kapahi said. “I learned that consumers need, and also want, the human experience with any brand.”

Kaphi’s comments called to mind those of April Long, executive beauty editor at Elle Magazine, who, during a recent Fashion Group International event, declared: “new is not innovative." This is particularly true in a beauty product market that sees about 10,000 launches each year.

So, whether an innovation is a repositioning of an existing technology, a refinement/elevation of an existing product or a brand-new, category-creating introduction, no one will care if it isn’t backed up by passion, tenacity and clarity of message.

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