Chicago Emerges as Brand Hub
By: Leslie Benson
Posted: March 5, 2008, from the March 2008 issue of GCI Magazine.
page 6 of 7Marketing manager Justin Toups says China-Gel distributes most of its products to spas, salons and massage therapists. Products are also available to consumers online. The company’s Internet base gives employees access to international customers via phone and e-mail, and its Midwestern headquarters opened several distribution channels.
“We have access to plenty of suppliers and vendors that can suit our business needs,” says Toups. “Since we are ‘stuck in the middle,’ no city in the U.S. is too far, and it also helps to have a great airport that makes scheduling travel easier. One draw back—though this trouble can find you anywhere—is that most of the trade shows we attend or [that] pique our interest are not local.”
For the independent company, trade shows are the key to attracting new customers and raising product awareness, and for Toups, travel is necessary for his business.
According to Be! Products founder, Neli Vazquez-Rowland, “top tier brands and retailers are snapping up real estate in Chicago and opening flagship stores.” That was one reason why she launched her spa and salon-based nail care brand in the hub of the heartland. “Our timing couldn’t be better as we take a lead role on the stage of Chicago being discovered as a ‘coveted find’ in the fashion and beauty scene.”
Often sought after by event planners in the Midwest, Los Angeles and New York, Be! Products has even been selected this year as the exclusive nail care brand for gift bags at the Grammys, the Latin Grammys and the Oscars.
A mother of two teenage boys, the self-proclaimed fashionista balances several missions in life—to educate women about beauty through Be! Products and to support people in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction through A Safe Haven LLC, which she founded in 1995.