Earlier this month, Strength of Nature acquired Motions, Just for Me, Consort and Groom & Clean brands from Unilever—a move that was unexpected, but welcomed. A U.S. based company with manufacturing facilities in Savannah, Georgia, Strength of Nature has always stood for consumer understanding and product innovation. Now, loaded with research and Global Marketing Director, Charlene Dance at the helm, the brand is primed more than ever to bring the $700-million ethnic hair care industry exactly what it wants. Here, Dance reveals what we can expect from Strength of Nature in the new year and why brands shouldn’t think of Black hair as monolithic.
ESSENCE.com: Congratulations on the new acquisition. What is the overall vision with the recent changes, and what's the plan for the immediate future?
Charlene Dance: We celebrate the fact that women today have all types of styles. You can walk into a room and see so many different beautiful women with so many different styles. Because of that, we know it's really important to understand that these women that are choosing different styles and options. We believe that it's important to have a house of brands that can speak cross-sectionally to women and their needs. Motions is a wonderful fit for us because we believe that most women want value, most women want things they can trust, and these brands that we continue to purchase and evolve are brands that we feel have been a staple for women of color for many years.
ESSENCE.com: Now that you have an array of products, how are women effectively able to choose which brands to purchase?
Dance: I think that speaks to what she wants. For example, Motions was born out of salons. It was created for stylists and later evolved knowing that it had a retail opportunity. So we looked across our brands, you don't see a lot of style products in our homes. But Motions has a lot of items that work well for woman's styling. This is a definitely point of difference and it's a perfect fit for our family.
ESSENCE.com: Will there be any immediate changes under the Motions umbrella? Are you adding any new products? Are you changing the formulations? What can we expect from Motions?
Dance: We’re in a think tank now. But, we’re working to evolve them in a way that we think meets today's needs. That's what we're strategizing on today: how can we bring this brand to a place that allows women to celebrate it again? For the girl who fell off, we want her to love us again. And, we want to grow and evolve with the girl who already loves us.
ESSENCE.com: Lets talk a bit about large brands taking over the multicultural beauty space. I know that a lot of mainstream brands have toyed with African-American products. But how can minority-owned companies, own the beauty space?
Dance: I can honestly say that social media has leveled the playing field. I think that smaller brands can have the same ability to get on-shelf and be in distribution at bigger companies now because all you have to do is show the demand. If you can show the demand for your product, if you can show that you have X number of followers, that you have X number of sales, that you have all the top people that matter that can influence the influencer who influences, you're well on your way.
ESSENCE.com: You mentioned the importance of social media kind of leveling the playing field. How is that happening? Is that just through big influencers on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter cosigning the brands?
Dance: Buyers today are very well-versed on social media. They understand that, how it all begins from a grassroots, and you have to have your grassroots campaign 100% on, and then you'll get the ear of the buyers. That definitely is something that smaller companies have to do. It looks easy for bigger companies like myself because we have the established relationship, but I'm still playing with the same person that can create that buzz factor. There are a lot of great retail chains, events that happen all year long that the companies should be looking at. You have to really get business savvy, in order to get in the door. It takes more than just an idea, you have to have a plan!
ESSENCE.com: I'm sure those smaller brands add more competition for you. How do you plan to win the game?
Dance: There is enough money to go around for a lot of people; I don't really look at the competition. I'm more charged at the supply chain, I'm more charged, myself, to really listen to what the consumer wants and make sure that what the consumer wants is available. For us, we stick to a place that we know that there is something about legacy, there is something about heritage, there is something about a trusted brand.
Finally, I also think that beauty should not be segmented. We should make sure that every woman has the option to be just as beautiful, and so that's why our products are affordable—we do not want to segment. We want to make sure that every woman has the opportunity to purchase products that will work for her. No matter where she shops, she can find one of our brands that she can recognize, that has integrity, that she is aware of and is not some spin-off brand that she's never heard.
For more information about Strength of Nature's newest brands visit strengthofnature.com.