Sherway Cosmetics: A Surprise Discovery

Running a fledging business and introducing a new product is never an easy task. Nobody knows who you are, and more than likely may wait to see what you can do before being accepted into the business community.

Robert Sherman gets young firm off the ground.

Running a fledging business and introducing a new product is never an easy task. Nobody knows who you are, and more than likely may wait to see what you can do before being accepted into the business community.

It’s a struggle, but an effort that is also immensely exciting and gratifying, and if pursued with zeal and attention to detail, can easily become a way of life.

Such is the case with Bob Sherman, president and owner of the infant cosmetic company, Sherway Cosmetics. His apparent intensity and dedication makes Sherway a surprise discovery among young companies attempting to enter the evolving beauty market.

“I know it is going to be tough,” he commented during an interview in his cramped, Chatsworth, California, office. “But I have a proven track record in business, and I believe in the quality of my products I know where I want to take this company and product line and I’m confident that I can do it and make sure it’s right.”

Currently the firm offers 24 shades of polish and top and base coat. In addition, Sherway recent­ly offered their new Body Works, a hand and body lotion, that heralds their move into a broader cosmetic offering. But it was the nail care products that prompted Bob to enter the business. Actually, it was his wife.

"The whole thing started in May 1983," explained Bob. "My wife Debbie was a nail biter and then made up her mind to try and grow long nails. As she succeeded, she became very enthusiastic. And as her nails grew longer and longer, she became more and more inter­ested in nail care and nail care products.

"It was through her insistence that we took a look at the products on the market, because she felt that the top coat that she was using was the weakest link of the whole system."

Debbie Sherman's interest grew into a business interest, a natural step considering the couple's entre­preneurial background and spirit.

"We decided that if we were going to pursue this market, we would tackle the weakest product and make a better one," said Bob. "The result, a collaboration between Bob and Debbie with a close friend who is a manicurist by trade, produced a top coat that is "a little quicker drying and a lot longer lasting!"

"When we worked on the formula­tion of the top coat," added Robert, we had no intention of adding colors. But it became evident almost immediately that we needed the colors for the line."

At this point, barely three months after discussing the possibility of a nail care/cosmetic business, Bob and Debbie found themselves on a plane to New York looking for polish, colors and sources of supply. The intention was the same as that for the top coat: To find a quality, long lasting product.

"We succeeded," Bob says, quite matter of factly. "Our polish is made with natural pearl, is quick drying and will give you maximum protec­tion that resists chipping and crack­ing along with a high gloss finish that is second to none." In addition, he hastened to add, Sherway polish is a non-formaldehyde formulation.

So with sources and polish veri­fied, top and base coat formulated and stocked, Sherway Cosmetics officially opened their doors Sep­tember 15, 1983: Five very short months later.

When asked about the quickness, the speed at which he organized the venture and product line, Bob looks surprised, with an expression that seems to say "What's the big deal?"

"You have to understand," ex­plained Bob, leaning forward over his cluttered desk, seizing the opportunity to make a point about his company and approach, "that this is my style and the style that I take to things. I am basically an aggressive personality and know how to get things done. I have always made my work my fun, and I enjoy being challenged. And I have been successful with my approach several time before."

The point Bob repeatedly offered during the interview and emphasized here, is that this is hardly his first venture into the business world. And although he may be new and young in this industry, he is a seasoned businessman with several credits to his name. For example, his back­ground illustrates his love of busi­ness, his entrepreneurial spirit: He has owned and managed a suc­cessful construction company, pub­lishing company, public golf course, movie theater, real estate firm and land options, all of which he still retains some ownership and control in. And now he plans to turn this same energy and business acumen to the management of Sherway Cosmetics.

"In the last few years, a lot of small companies have sprung up to ser­vice this industry," said Bob. "But there hasn't been many attempting to follow what I would call a full service approach, which is the direction that I will be taking with Sherway.

"By full service I mean that you can get what you want from Sher­way…a full service meaning that not only will you be treated in a pro­fessional fashion and get depend­able, prompt service at competitive prices: If you want polish we'll have it; if you want shampoo, we'll have it. I foresee a full and complete line: Everything that is available in the industry I foresee Sherway carrying in a short period of time. In other words, if you want to deal exclu­sively with me, I can take care of all your needs."

BOB recognizes that this is a rather ambitious direction for his young firm, yet it is one that does little to hinder his actions or decisions.

“Yes, this is clearly an ambitious project, but thinking big has never scared me before," he confidently says, with just a hint of a smile. "I'm not a gambler, but I'm a not afraid of risks either."

Bouyed by this confidence and business acumen, Sherway is cur­rently developing a variety of sales aids and product presentations geared toward the professional and establishing a certain look and style that he hopes will convey the firm's quality concerns and commitment

"We are moving fast in that direc­tion," pointed out Bob, twirling in his chair to pick up a sample copy. "As you can see, our sales aids and product brochures are professional­ly established and keyed basically to the technician rather than the dealer. We are not quite done yet, but as you can see we are clearly moving in that direction. It is the same approach we use with our product, and display packaging,"

The major emphasis, according to Bob, is that the materials must convey to the professional and the client his imager and concerns.

"I have to stress here." said Bob, pausing to carefully phrase his comments, "that attractive pack­aging is extremely important to the professional in their business. To have private label stock sitting upside down, in cheap bottles, in cheap displays, sitting on a dirty or messy table makes you look like a cheap manicurist. That is not their intention, nor is it ours,

"Consequently, our approach includes quality products attrac­tively packaged, designed to be something that they can be proud to have sitting on their table. Ours is not cheap polish, and it doesn't look that way,"

Bob repeatedly emphasized what he described as quality concerns for his product and its appearance. He knows that his company is new and needs to make as strong as state­ment as possible about product in order to be heard. Apparently confi­dent that his message regarding his expertise has been duly noted and understood, he returned again to product discussions.


"Rather than using what I consider less expensive synthetic bases, we are using the old fashioned more expensive pearl base.

"Our shades, a majority creams, are not what I would refer to as disco colors. They offer more of the softer shades of pastel, in addition, we use the finest brush on the market, the cap is easy to handle and use, and the bottle is the standard shape that we decided on for a very important reason: If the bottle shape, is space efficient. If this product is going to be merchandised in the retail space of their shop, which if must be to increase the earning for the manicurist, space is a very key item. By having the standard shape, we are thinking of the professional and what they currently may have to display product."

Although new to the beauty business, Bob is stranger to the demands of a service business Often he compares the salon profession with others he has been involved with, and offers insights and suggestions for the nail pro­fessional to increase earnings, Since his background Includes ownership of service-oriented busi­nesses, he understands the impor­tance of the "add-on" sale and its impact on the bottom line.

"What I would like to offer the nail professional is suggestions for a very organized presentation," out­lined Bob.

"When that client comes in. you must be confident in your product, and your ability to do the job. You must look, sincere and confident and have clean, professional looking equipment and supplies surround­ing you. Your table must be well lit your displays positioned so that you will be able to retail items more easily and confidently. And that is what a service business is all about…the ability to do a good job and the possibility of picking up addi­tional income through selling add­-on products.

"For example, if one out of 10 customers through the door takes home a bottle of polish with them, that's extra cash in your hand. And if you make just an extra $5 a day, that's $35 a week, 52 weeks a year. By selling enough product to profit just $5 a day, five days a week, all year long, you can make an extra $1800 a year.

"And that extra $1800 could mean the difference in qualifying for a home loan, can put you in the driver's seat of a new automobile, or take you to the beaches of the Caribbean. And $5 is a minimum especially if they solicit every per­son they see to buy polish, files or other retail items."

The important aspect to understand and to accept is, according to Bob, noth­ing less than fully servic­ing that client.

"That woman in the chair is putting her trust in you, the manicurist. Your customer is there because she trusts you and trusts that the product and service will be handled profes­sionally.

"It is not a matter of trying to sell them something . . . you are fulfilling your service role.

"The stylist can win a devoted clientele by exercising this trust relationship which enables in­creased sales, equally bigger profits."

Image, therefore plays a very crucial role... hence the desire by Sherway for support materials that may enhance that rapport.

"But our material alone will not accomplish this image," added Bob. "It is often the little things that can mean so much.

"For example, consider the follow­ing seven points: Always pay atten­tion to your physical appearance, the style of your dress even your posture at the table. Maintain a positive, presentation attitude. Al­ways make sure that your work area is clean and presentable. Look at your table ... do you have an or­ganized professional display of products and tools? Never leave a dirty ashtray at the table. Adopt a sales attitude . . . ask and then support your suggestion. You are after all providing professional ad­vice and performance. And very important, be complimentary, flatter your clients. You may know that their nails look great, but make sure that they know it as well!

"By understanding and furthering this client support relationship, you can not only do a better job, you can profit from it as well," he explained.

ACCORDING to Bob, image, professionalism and per­formance were the over­riding concerns as he went about finding sales representatives for his firm. "The result is a network that I am extremely excited about. Their response to our line has been very favorable and definitely tells us that we are moving in the right direction. When a group of profes­sionals such as this is willing to go the extra effort for a young firm such as mine, it can only be the quality of the product and the professionalism of the effort. We are very pleased to have them all with us," said Bob.

"With this group, we know that our venture into the world of cosmetics will be a smoother one . . . and their function is one that we really appre­ciate. Knowing that your distributors and reps are behind you, and that they represent a strong, effective network, allows time to more fully pursue product development and company growth," said Bob. "In short, I'm really saying Thank you Sherway reps."

This freedom has already had its impact, said Bob, as he outlined, briefly, his firm's future product plans. "We are expanding now into the cosmetic field," revealed Bob, "and hope to debut a make up foundation line along with a combination collec­tion of lipsticks and blushers within a short period of time. The success of Body Works, our amazing new lotion made with 100 percent natural ingredients, gave us further indica­tion that the need for top quality products is still of foremost concern..."

In addition, Bob mentioned, there are several other products on the "drawing board," none of which he wished to reveal at this time. Though he claims not to be a gambler, it is obvious that he knows how to hold his cards.

"Well, there is no sense in letting my competition know too much about me, is there?" he asks, with a cocky grin. "They will all know soon enough."

In closing the interview, Bob had just one last point he wanted to make ... "I want the professionals out there to look at what we are doing, to give us a chance, to dis­cover the advantages of dealing with Sherway Cosmetics. We have a quality product, and a professional commitment to this business and industry. We may be a young com­pany, but we are a seasoned one. We know what we are doing, and greatly look forward to proving ourselves within this industry."

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