Back in 1998, when Seinfeld was signing off and Harry Potter was not yet a household name, Mikal Clay was planting the seeds of what would become a prosperous beauty-care brand. His VitaStrand hair vitamins, a concoction of all-natural ingredients designed to promote strong, healthy hair, were introduced to the salon market that year, and eventually became the first vitamins to successfully sell in OTC stores. A few years later they were accompanied by more products, and the Mikal Clay Treatment Line from Chicago-based Mikal Clay Products became a sought-after collection. “My products give people the opportunity to grow their hair without a gimmick,” says Clay. “Your scalp needs the right diet of vitamins and nutrients in order to grow healthy hair.”
Clay started the line because he noticed that people who wanted more hair were resorting to weaves that were improperly secured, which led to hair loss and traction alopecia, the gradual receding of the hairline. Consumers with these conditions have seen significant results while using the Treatment Line, which can also be used by those who simply want to keep their hair healthy and strong. The collection includes Moisture Healing Balm daily moisturizer to improve hair’s texture, Recharge purifying shampoo to remove product buildup, Thrust therapeutic scalp stimulant to combat thinning hair and hair loss, Encourage conditioner to refresh and rejuvenate the hair and scalp, and CIA leave-in conditioner to keep hair soft, tangle free and ready for styling.
Clay had quite a bit of beauty experience long before his first product came to market. The young entrepreneur earned his cosmetology license while still in high school, became a stylist and eventually an educator educating over 5000 beauty professionals after college. Then, while in college, worked in product development for various corporations. “The company I created the Treatment Line for rejected it,” remarks Clay. “They said it would cost too much to produce, so I took the line and distributed it myself.”
Although Clay had salable products that filled a market niche, there were a few bumps on the road to prosperity. “I could develop, but I couldn’t sell,” Clay admits. “When I finished college I continued as an educator, which helped me learn the ins and outs of the beauty business.” That knowledge put him in a better position to get his products to market, and the time and attention spent on learning the business paid off. The high-end line is doing very well and is available in about 200 stores. “We’re always looking into new markets,” remarks Clay. “And we just recently got national distribution.”
Not satisfied with simply helping people achieve and maintain full, healthy-looking hair, Clay seeks to help his customers on a variety of levels. “My products and my company help the customer physically, intellectually, emotionally and spiritually,” states Clay. “They help customers look better, and people feel better when they look better, and when they feel better they have a better spirit. The information included with the products also helps educate them.” But the benefits of Clay’s haircare expertise are not confined to the products on the shelves. He also shares his knowledge with a radio audience on Rejoice 102.3, a Chicago-based gospel station. The one-hour Hair Doctor radio show is on three days a week, and can also be listened to on the Internet at www.wyca1023.com. “People call in and e-mail questions about hair care from all over the world,” says Clay. “I’ve even had calls from as far away as Iraq.”
EDUCATION EDUCATION EDUCATION IS THE KEY
Even though he’s got his hands full managing a product line and hosting his own radio program, Clay’s major focus is on educating both the consumer and the store owner. “We need to change people’s mindsets,” says Clay. “The popular belief is that in order to make your hair grow, you just have to put some kind of ‘grease’ on it, but that’s not the case. The hair is composed of dead cells, so treating something that’s dead is not going to make it grow. You must start from the inside.” This information is valuable not only to customers, but to store owners who may need to answer questions about the product line. “The stores that do the best with our products are the ones that provide the best customer service,” says Clay.
Clay passes on his knowledge of all things related to healthy hair and his Treatment Line in a number of ways. In addition to his radio show, he educates his reps, who then pass that information on to store owners and customers. He also offers Hair Dr. TV, an informational DVD, and support via the web at http://www.mikalclay.com and via http://www.YouTube.com/mikalclay. And if consumers and store owners still aren’t able to get the information they seek, they can simply Text Hair to 31996 or call (866) 678-4855.
Every big beauty conglomerate began with no more than a great product, a marketing strategy and a desire to help consumers look their best, and Mikal Clay Products seems to be following along the same route. With a no-nonsense approach to education, beauty and customers’ well-being, this young business is working hard to be the next big thing.
He is Mikal Clay