The multi-million dollar bad hair day
By KEREN DUDESCU-BESNER
Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez are just some of the A-listers known to use Carmen Tal’s Moroccanoil hair treatment, which started its life in Israel.
It all started in
Israel. When Carmen Tal’s hair was left damaged after a color-process gone bad
it was actually a blessing in disguise. A stylist at a salon in Tel Aviv came to
Tal’s rescue by applying an argan oil-infused treatment to her hair. Tal was
amazed that her hair was saved immediately, “I saw the results instantly. It was
Tal’s instincts told her that she had stumbled upon something
exceptional. She returned home, which back then was Montreal with a few bottles
of the treatment in tow. Of course it didn’t hurt that at the time Tal was the
owner of a hair salon who knew a thing or two about hair, “Because of my
background, I was able to learn a lot about different hair products, about
different brands and about the hair industry in general. I learned about the
importance of using top quality hair products,” explains Tal who is a firm
believer that taking care of your hair is just as important as taking care of
Today Moroccanoil Treatment, a by-product of the oil used on Tal’s
head, is the signature product and launching pad of her brand. It is a hot
commodity on Hollywood hair. Angelina Jolie, Jennifer Lopez and Katy Perry are
just some of the A-listers known to use it. It also styles the coifs of
supermodels who strut the runway at high-end fashion shows for designers such as
Carolina Herrera, Roberto Cavalli and Badgley Mischka. Found in hair salons in 40
countries and with a gamut of over twenty hair products, that include different
shampoos and conditioners, hair and scalp treatments, hairsprays, styling
mousses, creams and oils, Moroccanoil has conquered the world of
Toying with the business potential of a unique product is one
thing. But actually deciding to buy the Israeli company that owns it,
re-launching it as Moroccanoil and building a global brand from there is
Tal’s first challenge was her then husband, Ofer. She had to convince
him to bring the product back to Montreal. She explains that it took some
insistence on her part for him to realize that they could be onto an incredible
A trip to Israel later, they decided to expand distribution to
North America and as Tal tells, “teamed up with a group of visionaries to
perfect the formula which soon became Moroccanoil Treatment.” A crucial decision
in their success was to choose where to place the product. They didn’t make the
decision without extensive research and without a doubt they made the right one
by selling exclusively to salons.
But those early days did come with other
challenges. The biggest one being that they were dissuaded from pursuing the
business because the market was over-saturated with products. “Even if you are
confident that you have something amazing naysayers can contribute to insecurity
about whether or not to continue. I’m very stubborn though, and believed that we
had to continue,” says Tal.
Of course Tal was right to persevere. As the pioneer
of an all-new-oil-treatment-hair-care category Moroccanoil has changed the face
of the industry. As she claims, “we have helped so many people transform their
hair in ways they never thought possible. You don’t need to read a manual to
understand what the product does for you. The simplicity of the products has
made the brand revolutionary.”
For Tal the rewards have been many. She is very
proud that Moroccanoil can offer job opportunities to people all over the globe.
Today as they continue to open offices around the world, they employ over 250
people. “We have been able to offer careers that many never dreamed possible.
That is one of the most amazing rewards!” says Tal.
But it is not only
Moroccanoil employees and its consumers that are its benefactors. Argan oil is
extracted from a nut that grows in trees, which have flourished in rural Morocco
for centuries. According to a 2012 BBC report most of the argan oil that is
produced today comes from the many women’s co-operatives that have sprung in the
Moroccan countryside. The production of argan oil has given these women an
income. It helps them pay for their children’s education. At one time these
women’s children could only attend primary school. Today, the high-demand of
argan oil pays for their secondary schooling and even university education.
Argan oil is one ingredient in the secret formula that is Moroccanoil Treatment.
CNN’s Erin Burnett has reported that Eitan Arbel is one of only four people who
know the formula. Arbel is the director of the manufacturing facility located
just two hours north of Jerusalem where eighty percent of Moroccanoil products
are manufactured. These products are composed of 25 top-notch, secret
ingredients that are blended and mixed in two-ton vats named after the
celebrities that use them.
The high-end ingredients used in Moroccanoil hair
products are also found in the body care line. Following much consumer demand
its creation was inevitable, “the products have this incredible fragrance and
are so easy to apply, so there was a lot of demand for a body line,” explains
Whether it’s the Body Soufflé or the Body Buff, “every product
offers a luxurious and unique ‘Moroccanoil’ experience that offers women the
results they are looking for,” Tal declares.
Tal has had quite the ride.
She learned English almost 30 years ago, after moving to Canada from her native
Chile. In Montreal she worked in retail, first at Ogilvy’s, one of the city’s
most prestigious department stores, and then managing the Liz Clairborne
flagship store. Now at the helm of the exponentially growing Moroccanoil Empire
she has made the move to New York City. When asked why, the answer is simple:
“New York is a Mecca for fashion and beauty. New York is where so many things
are always happening, the city never stops and I love the energy! It’s also a
city filled with so many incredible and talented people. Also we had to consider
the best location to provide an academy for our clients, and the most central
location was New York.”
As for how she sees her business evolving five,
ten years into the future? She talks about introducing additional innovative
hair products into the industry. She envisions expanding the body care line.
Indeed, the creation of sun range products is already in the works, as is the
introduction of fragrances. But as Tal likes to stay mysterious and keep things
under wraps she says, “I don’t want to reveal too much because I want it to be a