The multi-million dollar bad hair day

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.

The multi-million dollar bad hair day (photo credit: Mohamed Khalil)
The multi-million dollar bad hair day
(photo credit: Mohamed Khalil)
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 just incredible!”
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 your skin.
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 hair.
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 another.
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 opportunity.
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 Tal.
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 surprise!”