Concoction Trend Defining Couture Haircare Customised for YOU launches tomorrow. Shampyou not Shampoo!

I met Alex Epstein about six years ago in Manchester, when I was giving  a talk on Entrepreneurialism.  He came up and introduced himself to me, as he was looking to work in the toiletries & beauty care industry.  Although we didn’t hire him at (then) KMI, we kept in touch, and in 2010 he starred in The Apprentice – I followed his progress, and although he didn’t win through to the final, I think Lord Sugar had a soft spot for him.

Along with ‘Baggs the Brand’, I invited him to the launch of our Azor 5 in early 2011, and kept in touch.  A few months later he explained to me he’d been working on an idea for customising hair-care products (shampoos) – part of the inspiration for this came from how you could blend paint-colours at the Dulux paint blending stations in DIY stores.  The premise for his idea was that everyone’s hair is different, yet women were only able to buy a ‘one size fits all’ shampoo at grocery stores, or if they were able to afford it, salon-professional products when getting their hair done at the hairdressers.

concoctbarHe’d called his brand Concoction and used the slogan ‘Mixology Technology’.  What Alex didn’t know is that I’d registered the Mixology trademark in 2001 at KMI (mixology is the art of mixing cocktails) and he’d essentially created what I had only had an idea about.

So, I was impressed!

I looked at his early packaging designs and brand, and acted as a mentor for him over the coming months.  In March 2012, we met again, where he showed me where he’d got to, and explained that he’d shown the idea to Millie Kendall MBE (co-creator of the iconic Ruby & Millie cosmetics brand in 1997) and more recently the co-founder of another cult beauty brand, BeautyMART – which ‘edits’ cult beauty brands from around the world.  Millie had agreed to join Alex’s advisory board, and act as consultant creative director.

I was even more impressed.

Those of you who read my occasional blogs will know that in early 2011 I’d met Stu Jolley, who had been on TV (a programme called Britain’s Next Big Thing presented by Theo Paphitis) with his Wingman ‘Jetwipe – male wetwipe’ brand, which was about to launch at Boots.  Having been impressed with the thinking and rationale behind Wingman (“In Wingman We Trust”) the holding company behind King of Shaves took a 25% stake in Stu’s business.

I agreed with Alex if he could find himself another Angel/Seed Capital investor, we would invest, and I’d introduce him to another person who’d expressed an interest in investing alongside anyone I/we backed.  He also met with my wife, Tiger Savage who advised him on the brand aesthetic, distilling it into a simplicity and removing the complexity from it.

In August 2012, Alex met the buying team at Selfridges, and over the coming months, was able to secure an exclusive launch with them in Summer 2013 (Concoctions launches tomorrow, 25th July in the main beauty hall at Selfridges, opposite the MAC counter for 2 weeks) before rolling out to more retailers.

A HUGE amount of work was undertaken by pretty much Alex alone, to bring this launch to fruition.  For sure, Millie and I helped guide him as to what “we’d do” but the end result is Alex’s.  In early Spring, along with his PR, Nadine Attar of Scoop Publicity, he hosted a press/beauty blogger event at the W Hotel in Leicester Square to introduce his brand, and the fact that Mixologists would personally blend one of up to 256 individual shampoo (or Shampyou) products for the customers.

His idea was picked up on by the UK & European beauty trade press, and picked out as identifiying a potential global trend for customising beauty products to the individual’s requirements.  Alex is giving a talk on Concoctions in September alongside another beauty legend, Jo Malone, in London.

His idea is simple, 1) take a salon professional base shampoo blend – you can choose from 1 of four fragrances.  2 select 2 super serums (shots) which are poured into the 200ml bottle.  3)  Shake it up and pair with the Concoction Conditioner.

The total cost (at launch) is £14 for the individualised shampoo & £16 for the conditioner, so £30 overall – amazing value given that this shampoo is bespoke to YOUR hair.  For more details on what you can ‘mix to match’ visit the Concoctions website here.

Alex has already had a lot of beauty blogger & press coverage from around the world about the concept, including centre page in the Mail on Sunday YOU magazine.  But, he’s not letting this go to his head, as he knows his brand will only be successful if it sells – so he’s focussing on making a great success of his 2 weeks in Selfridges, the world’s coolest Department store with his talented (young & hot team) of Mixologists – see what I mean here!

Back in 1993, I launched King of Shaves at Harrods (then the world’s best known department store) and achieved first year sales of our original shaving oil of about £300.  Alex has already beaten that by thousands of percent.

Mille, Peter, Harvey (seed angel investors) and I stand ready to help Alex grow the Concoction ‘Mixology Technology’ brand into a unique business, which I’m sure will define what happens in this sector in years to come.

As Alex said to me when chatting, “All I’m doing is what Nespresso have done for coffee at home, or Starbucks have done for coffee on the go.  It’s all about individualisation, personalisation & customisation to taste or experience.  And if a customer wants a triple shot skinny latte with caramel & a twist then that’s what we’ll give them”.  Or, something like that anyway!”

Coffee was once a jar of Nescafe.  Now it’s a multi-hundred million dollar a year brand defined by Nespresso.

Here’s to Concoction.  The future of Couture Hair-care.  Mix it up Alex!

Good luck & best wishes,

Will