OTC: What is the mission of the én Love brand?
Matthew Ryan: To offer the best beauty products to support their natural beauty.
OTC: If you had to pick a phrase or word to represent your brand, what would it be?
Matthew: én love, forever for always.
OTC: What is your role at the company?
Matthew: We take a team approach to the foundation and growth of Born Brands as each person has a key role in the success:
The Head of R&D creates breakthrough formulas that are best in class. The CMO Marketer creates eye-catching packaging, engaging consumer activations, and true innovation. The CEO provides vision, financial support, and logistics.
OTC: How did the company get its start?
Matthew: This company has been a vision for the last several years. A simple desire to create with everything you have learned and touched. This along with being surrounded by strong creative minds from diverse backgrounds to help build én love.
OTC: How did you get your start in the beauty industry?
Matthew: I got my first role in the ethnic category from Carson products that specialized in Dark & Lovely. I immediately fell in love with the beauty industry having the blessing of working for Loreal, Colomer Products and Revlon over the next 20 years. I was blessed to touch or directly run many brands during these tenures including Crème of Nature, Creative Nail Design, Roux Products, American Crew, Revlon Professional, Dark and Lovely, Garnier, and Mizani.
OTC: What is the best business advice you’ve ever heard?
Matthew: “The riches are in the niches.” Business, beauty, and life is in the details with the main ingredient of passion and “Nothing is as important as passion. No matter what you want to do with your life, be passionate” by Jon Bon Jovi.
OTC: What are some of your most popular products?
Matthew: Our two most popular products are the forever, for always edges control and Leave-in conditioner. They are both formulated with 100% Aloe as the first ingredient leaving the hair pillow soft while leaving a luminous shine.
OTC: What sets your brand apart from the rest of the industry?
Matthew: There are three things that set us apart from others:
Our first ingredient is 100% Aloe versus other haircare products in the multi-cultural space that start with water as the first ingredient.
Our team: an award-winning chemist to create best in class formulas, a leader that has a proven track record of double-digit growth on legacy brands, a marketer that has created breakthrough campaigns and new product launches.
Our story: There is nothing greater than the passion we have for our natural beautiful hair. The everyday journey starts with én love by providing deep hydration from root to tip leaving hair pillow soft.
OTC: How have customers responded to your brand so far?
Matthew: The response to enLove has been extremely positive based on reviews on Amazon and at hair shows with the fragrance as the #1 product attribute they love. They love the product name and the design of the packaging as they care clear – “I have not seen this before”. Our key products that are gaining rave reviews are the “edge gel, the conditioner, and the styling gel. We just need to keep building awareness and driving trial with our social media and grass roots tactics.
OTC: What are some of the key ingredients in your products?
Matthew: Every sku within enLove franchise always starts with 100% Aloe as the first ingredient versus traditional haircare products that start with “water”. We know that aloe key benefit is “hydration” and our first collection Moisture Crush is about delivering a “moisture reservoir” deep inside the hair shaft to provide 3x the moisture with a 24 hours hydration.
In addition to 100% Aloe, the Moisture Crush collection includes well known and proven ingredients that provide hydration – Coconut oil, Honey, and Argan Oil. We also added in Marula Oil known for its hydrating and moisturizing properties that won’t make hair greasy or weigh it down to round out our “moisture complex” for dry, textured hair. Consumers are well educated in knowing that “one natural ingredient is not enough – I need more”.
OTC: What trends do you feel are most prevalent in the multicultural beauty industry right now?
Matthew: Natural Ingredients that provide proven benefits. Customers are familiar with “traditional” natural ingredients like shea butter, coconut oil but they are also searching for new natural ingredients that can provide a deeper level of beauty benefits. Expect to see new natural ingredients enter into the marketplace.
In addition, you are seeing a lot of “skin care ingredients” migrating into hair care – hyaluronic acid that can help your hair follicle lock in moisture and moisture is the #1 desired benefit in multi-cultural hair. This trend is being coined “skinfication” as the scalp is skin that provides a healthy foundation for healthy hair.
OTC: How do you share product knowledge with your customers and retailers?
Matthew: We utilize social media, point of purchase messaging at shelf, QR codes, product brochures to share product information about enLove to ensure the consumers get the full effect of product benefits and ingredients.
OTC: What have you found is the best way to connect with your customer?
Matthew: We live in a “social” society where consumers live on their devices and use it to connect with one another and to learn about new trends, new products, and lifestyle. As a beauty brand, we utilize social media to engage with the multi-cultural consumer via Instagram and TikTok as a primary form of social media engagement. We also know that influencers are very influential when it comes to beauty and lifestyle content. For enLove its important to use the right influencers who can reach our target in a very authentic way with content that resonates. Grassroots events are another way we engage with consumers especially hair shows and beauty store activations. Sampling and introductory deals to “try” enLove at an affordable price is our strategy and it is working. We know that when she smells the product, she immediately falls in love with it and wants to try it so we make it affordable for her to purchase the entire collection at hair shows such as The World Natural Hair Show in Atlanta which has more than 10k consumers in attendance.
OTC: How can OTC stores benefit from having your product lines in their stores?
Matthew: We know that OTC / beauty supply stores are the foundation of multicultural hair and where consumers will shop to find all things multicultural hair. If you are a new brand to this industry, OTC / beauty store is where you can start as retailers are also shopping in OTC to see what is new and then they will look to bring those items into the retail channel. The OTC / beauty stores also allows enLove the ability to have a one on one relationship with store owners by engaging with them and sharing the brand with a tool kit that includes a introductory displays, samples, pop materials to help merchandise and bring attention to the brand.
OTC: What suggestions do you have about store placement of your items and also talking points for OTC store employees?
Matthew: For new products, front and center on endcaps where consumers can see “new” products. We took a page out of what we call 101 OTC – create and ship an OTC launch kit that includes a product display that provides product information, POP materials that can be placed on the shelf in front of your display and in the window, samples for the store to hand out to consumers to introduce them to the new products, branded items like t-shirts, face mask. The OTC personnel, love to hear about new products but provide them with the top 3 – 5 benefits of your collection that is easy for them to repeat to customers. One thing we did was provided T-shirts and samples to keep the brand top of mind when they are engaging with customers.
OTC: Do you have any upcoming shows or events?
Matthew: We are looking at all the major events like the World Natural Hair Show in Atlanta, Ubiquitous in DC, Todays Black Woman Expo in Chicago but at the same time, looking at smaller venues in markets like Charlotte, Detroit, Philadelphia that will allow us to have a more intimate engagement with consumers. As a new brand, we want to be able to send samples to events that we can’t attend to ensure that énLove has a presence and we are spreading the “love”.
OTC: Are there any new projects or products you’re working on?
Matthew: We are always working on new products to meet the needs of the multi-cultural consumers but its important that for enLove, we are bringing “best in class” innovation that is truly new / different and better. There is so much more to come from énLove….stay tuned.
OTC: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
Matthew: Try én love and fall én love.