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The Interview: Daniel Kaner, president and co-founder of Oribe

Gaelle Walker
17 February 2021

The Oribe brand was born back in 2008, when Daniel Kaner, along with two partners including legendary hairstylist Oribe Canales, decided to go after an opportunity that they saw in the professional hair care category - to create a brand with a unique, boutique perspective.

From then on, Oribe has been thrilling salon professionnels and consumers with its interesting range of high-performance, luxury products.

As a passionate brand builder, Daniel is actively involved in every aspect of the business, from product development to education, design, sales and marketing.

Please tell us a little about your career path...

The start of my career in the world of hair care began with my wife, Sonia Kashuk, who is a makeup entrepreneur.

She had been working with Aveda Corporation based in Saint Paul, Minnesota and often visited my home state of Minnesota for meetings and it was during one of those visits that we met.

Sonia introduced me to Aveda’s unconventional and innovative founder Horst Rechelbacher and we hit it off. He started to invite me to some of Aveda’s management meetings and we developed both a strong friendship and business relationship.

Sonia and I eventually married and I joined her in New York where I started my career at Aveda in an official capacity - a life-changing and business-defining experience.

DANIEL KANER AND SONIA

Daniel Kaner and Sonia Kashuk

It was truly the beginning of who Daniel Kaner is today. In so many ways, the Aveda brand and leadership created a reimagination in the hair care category.

From that amazing experience, I went on to another defining career moment when I joined Bumble and bumble as a partner, to lead the marketing team in the early days of its brand development.

Again, Michael Gordon, founder of Bumble and bumble and his team had a different view on what they wanted to accomplish and how they wanted to be viewed in the salon community.

As a senior member of the team, I was tasked with helping identify and amplify all the good things that had been brewing and incubating for years.

Bumble and bumble was later purchased by The Estée Lauder Companies Inc and the senior leadership team was invited to stay on for an extended period of time to continue our work.

As that experience ended, a colleague and I envisioned a new opportunity, which would lead us to developing a specialty category within the professional channel.

Up until that point, almost all beauty categories had good, better and best but we felt there was a gap in hair care.

Most hair care sales came from licensed hair salons or the mass market. At that time however, there weren’t many options at the specialty/luxury level that could also live in the salon segment, so that was our entry point.

Before we knew what omnichannel distribution meant, we were there.

We focused on something that was artisanal, performance-driven, and attention to detail at the highest level and brought it to the salon community but we would also focus on luxury specialty stores, such as Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and Space NK, extending outside of the professional community.

What inspired you to create the Oribe brand?

We saw an opportunity to reexamine how we look at hair care and where we sold it and to re-think how we could engage with salons and at the same time, broaden their opportunities.

Our “why” is to bring value and direction to the communities we serve. There is a vast difference between good and exceptional and a lot of opportunity in between. We created unique formulations that were modern and forward-thinking - products that were clean and high-performing. Our goal was to create something extraordinary.

I first met the late, legendary hairdresser Oribe Canales in the 1980s through my wife Sonia who believed strongly that Oribe was a brand waiting to happen.

Oribe was the perfect partner for the product line we envisioned. He had his own perspective, his own ideas - an over-the-top, larger-than-life sensibility that we knew would resonate with our audience.

He took great pleasure in what he did and he was willing to take chances. That said, he was unwavering in his belief that the products had to perform.

In 2008, we launched Oribe Hair Care with 20 products and five collections that are the foundation of our brand today – Signature, Beautiful Color, Moisture & Control, Brilliance & Shine and Magnificent Volume.

What are the brand’s main USPs and why? 

Oribe defined the luxury hair care category, creating the standard. Our goal was to look at hair products in a different way, created for talented hairdressers, sophisticated salons and product junkies. From the start, performance was a non-negotiable and to this day we believe that our products need to outperform everything in the stylists’ kit. We envisioned products that were robust tools, providing the ultimate in performance that stylists could depend on and that consumers would crave.

We were interested in all aspects of the experience, starting with a beautiful perfume-grade fragrance that has become a signature of the brand. Côte d’Azur runs through the entire line, designed so that the products build beautifully upon each other.

We emphasize the importance of the overall experience, whether it’s the fragrance, the performance of our products, the visual statement of our packaging or our high-touch service model.

In addition, as we continue to evolve as a global brand, we join our parent company, Kao Corporation, to focus closely on our ESG strategy, with sustainability continuing to be one of our top priorities when developing new products.

Oribe Serene Scalp

What was the early response to the brand? 

The recession came at the point of our launch in 2008, which caused us to look at the project through a different lens - looking at what was behind the bottle and explaining the many steps that we take to make our brand special and distinctive.

From the fragrance to the formulation to how it looks in your hand, it all mattered equally to us.

I've spent a great deal of time in my career with very serious hairdressers and dedicated salon owners, and there is such a deep sense of professionalism and love for the artistic side of the business and client experience.

This was the group that tested our products in the early stages, these were the salon owners who supported us from the beginning and our products were designed to speak to them. In turn, these were products that consumers who relied on results would also be proud to use.

How has the brand evolved over time? 

Much has changed since we launched our brand in 2008. My own perspectives have changed. We used to think about wanting to be the best in class or the best in category, but today I would settle for being the most interesting.

We’ve always maintained strong relationships with our customers and we continue to build those relationships which in turn strengthens our business. We continue to create products that perform and that have become mainstays in hairdressers’ kits.

We’ve expanded the line into lifestyle products that showcase our signature fragrance, Côte d’Azur, such as body care, fragrance and incense. What we set out to do was important; we wanted to give the hairdresser everything they needed to be the best at their job. We wanted something extremely efficacious, creating another level of performance and quality.

In the past decade, the consumer marketplace has definitely changed, but Oribe’s focus on quality, consistency, performance, client relationships and the key principles that characterize Oribe as a company have stayed the same. That’s the credo we follow.

Can you describe your most rewarding moment to date? 

The team has been on this journey for a long time, and I used to coach them to be the absolute best at what we do, but as I mentioned earlier, we focus on the idea of what would it take to be the most interesting, and how we can focus more on environmental and social elements as guiding principles in how we operate.

The business climate is different from when I started my career, we are all so tightly connected – teams, customers and the brand. So to do the job well, the idea of partnerships, working together closely to define our objectives, allowing us all to continue to win; that's been the most rewarding.

I’ve loved being a part of this brand, being associated with this team and being in this industry. It’s always felt more like a passion project than a job.

What are the top sellers in the range and why? 

Since its launch in 2008, Dry Texturizing Spray has become a cult favorite for both professional stylists and consumers. The product remains one of our best-sellers in all markets.

Our Gold Lust Collection, specially formulated to repair strands and restore elasticity while preventing future damage, is another best seller in the UK. The collection includes the Gold Lust Shampoo and Conditioner, which cleanses, rejuvenates and nourishes each strand with weightless formulas. Nicknamed liquid gold, our Nourishing Hair Oil deeply conditions and smooths hair, making it the perfect prep or finishing product.

Oribe Texturising Spray

What do you anticipate the most important haircare trends of 2021 to be?

Consumers are becoming increasingly interested in overall health and wellness and are looking for products that focus on preventing damage and restoring hair and the scalp. Because scalp health is a growing concern among today's consumers, we developed a holistic approach to treating issues such as hair loss, hair thinning and dry scalp. Inspired by skincare technology, our Serene Scalp Collection provides a step-by-step hair regimen that includes a cleanser, moisturizer, exfoliator and targeted treatments for overall hair health.

How do you plan to respond?

Our philosophy has always focused on skincare-grade ingredients and innovative technology that improve the integrity of hair and scalp. Since most of us have been staying home for the past year, we’ll be focusing on products that help to extend the services you receive in a professional salon and that focus on the overall health of the hair and scalp. We’re also continuing to expand the line and offer new categories of best-in-class products with clean formulations and high performance. Every morning, we seek to create a unique experience for our consumer as they get ready for the day.

Oribe Serene Scalp family

Where is the brand currently available and are there any plans to expand? 

Oribe is currently available at our salon partners located throughout the UK and Ireland. The line is also available in luxury retailers including Space NK, Harrods and Selfridge’s retail stores, and online at Space NK, Harrods, Cult Beauty and Net-a-Porter.com.

We will continue to partner with the right customers and build relationships of trust, while staying true to our brand values, creating high-performance products, offering state of the art education and providing a luxury experience to both salon professionals and consumers.

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