Interview: Haysam Eid - Tools of the Trade

Born into a Lebanese family of hair salon owners, it seemed that Haysam Eid was destined to spend his days behind the chair. However, the course of his career changed when he went to London to study business management.

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Eideal founder Haysam Eid.
LLA

Haysam Eid founded Eideal, a hair tool manufacturing company, in 2008.

According to Eid, the business was born out of necessity. There was a distinct lack of high quality tools for professional use in the regional industry with no homegrown brands to speak of. In the 10 years since its inception, Eideal has gained a loyal industry following in the GCC and abroad and added a distribution arm to its operations.

What prompted you to start Eideal?
When I went back to the salon after my studies, I was managing it and doing the hairstyling part of the business as well. I felt that the industry lacked high quality tools that hairdressers need and understand. So, having studied business management I decided to move to the business side of the industry. I thought I could do more and I wanted to give more to the hairdressing industry. That’s when I started developing our first curling iron.

What was the initial process?
The idea was to use it in the salon and then sell it to other hairdressers, friends and acquaintances who would be interested in having it. It actually became very popular and there was a lot of demand. Then we developed the whole line of products. We work with different partners around the world. We have partnerships with them, we have exclusivity with the range of tools that we work with. It’s a long research and development process so we went from prototypes to working samples that we tested for a long time in the salons. These items were tested by several hairdressers from different hairdressing backgrounds who gave us feedback about the tool and how we could make it better. The first one took about 18 months to develop. That was the lengthiest process.

The Curlie curling iron was the first hair tool produced by Eideal.

What brought you to Dubai?
I came to Dubai in 2010 because I thought Dubai was a great hub for the Middle East to do business regionally as well as internationally. When I arrived, I had to figure out how to start and where to start. I had to learn about the industry in Dubai.

How does the GCC market differ from Lebanon?
In Dubai and the GCC it’s different because salon owners are not always hairdressers so they don’t necessarily understand or value the quality of the tools that we’re providing. They probably would be looking at if it’s more expensive saying ‘Why would I invest that much in a hair tool?’ or ‘What is this brand? I’ve never heard of it’. At the start it was really hard to meet the right people and to tell them that yes, this is a local brand, it’s not international coming from the UK but we’re still providing very good quality. All of this was a challenge. To really make sure that you earn their trust so that at least they’ll give you a try.

What was the initial response from the industry?
Every time they tried it, we were sure that they were going to keep it and like it. Because we never compromise on quality. That’s our strength. At the end of the day, we’re a smaller brand than other companies and international brands so we can’t afford to compromise on quality and affect our brand name.

You don’t compete on price with your tools. How has that worked as a strategy?
We were never on a low price. I started on a high price and we are still one of the most expensive brands in the region. We managed to maintain the brand positioning. We were so patient to take our time and grow one step at a time and prove to people that this is the right brand for their salon. We’re mainly dedicated to professionals so you won’t find us in beauty shops and hypermarkets.

You’ve had a lot of support from Hollywood hairstylist Jen Atkin.
Jen is a friend of ours. We have no business relationship with Jen, she just likes the brand and she shows us some love every now and then by using the brand and we thank Jen a lot for doing this. She has no commitment and we couldn’t be happier. She could be using the tools without sharing it but Jen is an incredible person. So nice and modest and she always endorses any brand she uses so she’s a great example for the industry.

Hollywood hairstylist Jen Atkin is partial to the Eideal curling iron, using it to style the tresses of modles Kendall Jenner and Bella Hadid.

How do you choose your distribution partners?
We’re the exclusive distributor. We don’t distribute many brands. We only distribute Eideal, Davines, and Amazon Keratin which is a straightening system that’s all we do. We have a different strategy when it comes to brand distribution. Maybe you’ll find other companies distributing multiple brands 20, 30 or 100 brands under their portfolios. However, we’re being more specific and are dedicated to salon-focussed products.

How did the distribution partnership with Davines come about?
Davines is an Italian haircare brand founded by the Bollati family in 1983. We share a lot of similarities with Davines. It’s a very big company however it’s still a family business. It’s owned by Davide Bollati, he’s still on top of his business, watching over it on a daily basis. It’s a very eco-friendly brand with a sustainable beauty vision so it’s very environmentally driven, gives back to nature and uses natural resources. We like to work with clean products that are safe for the environment. That’s the kind of path that we’re trying to follow. That’s really what we like about the brand and we feel that we share a lot of similarities in terms of vision and ethos.

You’re also keen to share your leadership skills. How did you develop the Eideal-Santi Leadership Programme?
The programme was developed by Susie Santiago but we customised it according to our clients’ needs. They were mainly made up of salon owners and managers in the region. When we started, we realised that most salon owners are investors so they don’t really understand the industry or the business. They face a lot of difficulties once they get into it and are trying to manage it. They don’t know what makes a good hairdresser or how to hire the right manager etc.

Who is your target audience?
We’re targeting salon owners who have a great brand and are doing well although they can do better and can take their business to the next level of profitable success. That’s why we started the programme. It’s a one-year programme with monthly online sessions with Susie. You can have a chain of 10 salons or a standalone salon. It’s not about the business side, it’s about where you stand today, what you need and where you want to be in the next year. It’s very benefi cial because it’s dedicated to our industry. There’s a full curriculum where we cover HR, P&L, everything. We’ll be launching a new edition at the beginning of next year so we’re preparing for it now.

What do you think has made Eideal so successful?
I think there’s no specific thing that makes the brand successful. It’s a combination of a lot of factors. It’s about the whole brand concept maybe the identity, certainly the quality of the products and the technology behind it in terms of keeping up with smart technology. We deliver high quality products, however, it’s the approach we have with our clients. It’s the team we have working behind the scenes to deliver high quality service. It’s not necessarily about me or my vision for the brand, it’s hard work from every single individual.

Do you have any new launches coming up?
We will be launching Extended, our new hair extension line. It’s something we’ve been working on for so long to make sure we really can guarantee the quality of the hair. Offering hairdressers premium quality and at the same time the flexibility of colouring the hair. It’s derived from 100% virgin Remy hair and we’ll be providing diff erent lengths. It’s a tape-in method so it’s not as damaging. It’s easy to remove but it’s strong hold when it’s on the hair and is virtually undetectable. It’s launching in November and I hope it will meet our clients’ expectations.

Eideal hair tools are available in plans to expand internationally?
We’ve got a plan. Watch this space!

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