Throughout the year, I often feature women in business and those who are building empires within the beauty industry. Sabrina Maren of NuMe Professional Styling Tools is one of those women.
Born in Schwetzingen, a small town in Germany known for its castle and rich history, Sabrina moved to Angelbachtal with her family and went on to study in Heidelberg before making a move to pursue the rest of her education overseas. Fascinated by what the U.S. had to offer, she applied for a student visa and landed in San Antonio Texas. Having a strong interest in photography, she took a job working for a photographer who taught her the ropes. Sabrina eventually moved to Florida and changed her major to Business and Economics. She launched Nisenbaum & Schueppl Inc. in 2004 and distributed, marketed and branded Corioliss hairstyling tools. This was the beginning of a great love affair with the beauty industry.
In 2008 she became CEO of Corioliss USA, followed by Maren products which she founded and co-owned until she created NuMe Professional Styling Tools. She went on to create Jenny Rivera by NuMe, in 2011, iKonic Precision Styling Tools in 2012, Nutika in 2013 and assumed the direction of ABV Group as CEO in 2016.
On February 19th, NuMe will receive the 2017 Hollywood Beauty Award for Brand of the Year. I recently sat down with Sabrina to talk about her journey in building a beauty empire.
When did you create NuMe?
I started the company in 2009, but we formally launched our first product in 2010. We’ve been selling online a lot.
Where did the name NuMe come from?
It was a new venture for me that I completely created by myself. I was starting something new for myself. Therefore, NuMe as in "New Me" seemed to be the right fit.
What is your background?
I did not come from the hair industry at all. People usually ask me, “Well, are you a hair stylist?” No. “Are you an engineer, because you work with products?” No. I came from a completely different background. I came from corporate. I lived in Florida working in the film industry. I was a script supervisor. I did that before living in California. Usually people come to California to work in the industry. I came to California because I was dealing with Westfield shopping centers. I had a lot of dealings with them, so this is one of the reasons I opened the office in LA at the time.
How did you settle on creating hair tools?
I really loved working on films, however, I saw so many people in the industry that ended up doing projects for money, leaving their passion on the side. It was crucial for me to keep passion and creativity attached to my work. This is why I decided to open my own business. When it came time to settle on the kind of business I immediately thought about something related to hair. Each day it took me about two hours to do my own hair. I would blow dry it and iron it and yet It wouldn’t be as smooth. As soon as I went outside it would be frizzy. It was two hours spent on my hair for nothing. My hair just always looked awful. I never had great hair in Florida.
You have great hair so what motivated you to get into the tool business?
I have great hair when it’s just has been styled. Living in Florida it was a permanent challenge. I had a lot of friends that were stylists, and they made me look fantastic. I would walk out into the humidity and you could see your hair expanding out letting frizz take over.
I got introduced to European brand called Corioliss, a company that had a flat iron. I started working with them, and eventually ended up marketing the product in the U.S. Before I knew it, I had the exclusivity for the US market. We grew tremendously.
So when did you decide to go your own way?
Around 2009, I created my own because Corioliss had grown so fast, they were in England, and I didn’t really have 100 percent control. When I started, they only had a flat iron. So we created items from blow dryers to curling irons – full lines. When we started, it was flat hair – flat, flat. Then throughout time, the styles changed, so we had to change with the times. We grew tremendously and they could not really keep up with our demand. Which is a great problem to have, but still a terrible problem. People always think, “Wow, that’s great.” Not really. So eventually in 2009, I created Nume with two business partners. One of them at the time was my husband. We’re still working together, but we’re no longer married.
What is the first tool you created?
I focused on flat irons because I had been working with Corioliss and knew a thing or two about it. This was about over 10 years ago; the really flat hair was in at the time. So in 2010, I launched a pure ceramic flat iron. We then created blow dryers, I realized that even the current blow dryers needed to be improved because they were too hot. So with my hair, I would just have so much breakage. And by the time I let it grow out and went back for another cut, they would blow dry it and my hair would break again. Ionic heat actually doesn't break my top hair at all.
Did you have any idea this would become what it has?
I didn’t realize that when you open a business, it’s going to be your new baby. Fifteen years later, of course, I’m no longer in the film industry. It took over all of my time and became my new passion.
Who was the competition at the time?
When we started in 200, you didn’t really have flat iron products. There were a few companies such as the CHI, but there was really no competition. CHI was the strong brand name at the time. When we came, we were actually pure ceramic; compare that to the CHI.
The CHI was a great product, but it was still ceramic with metal plates. We really, really ended up becoming successful because people were not used to having a flat iron that worked on your hair after one pass. With one pass, you could make your hair look beautiful, healthy and shiny, and not damage your hair like you would with traditional irons. So it became quite popular.
So you have tools only?
No, we have accessories. We started with flat irons, curling irons, blow dryers, accessories.
Which is the favorite NuMe tool?
The Megastar, flat iron. That’s our crème de la crème. It’s a very different kind of tool. Once you find the technology for something that works, you still always have to continuously change it, upgrade it. There are some great companies that have formulas that they created, like, 30 years ago, and they’re amazing. But stylists don’t like brands that never change anything in their formula – even if it’s great.
How do you answer their requests?
We always try to stay with different trends if it’s from the actual molds, the design to different colors and actual designs on the flat iron. We were, back then, a long time ago, the first company that actually created flat irons with colors and with prints and patterns. Because when I started, there was a black strain and that was it. There was nothing else out there. So seeing the change over time with hair tools has been exciting.
What makes the Megastar so special?
This Megastar has our technologies – like all of our ions internally it also has it externally. So you have a little mount sitting on the flat iron, and it emits negative ions. And you also have an infared boostlight coming out of the plate physically. When you turn it on, you will see the red light. When you pass it through your hair, it makes it so soft. It makes it feel like you’re passing it through silk.
My favorite is your blow dryer which is quite powerful.
A lot of times, blow dryers are so hot. They don’t just burn your hair off, they also burn your scalp. With our dryers, they’re still very powerful, it’s just the heat is a different type of heat. It’s still very hot, it just doesn’t burn like conventional heat. It’s pure infrared heat.
You also created iKONIC?
Yes, I created and founded it. I still own the trademark.
How different is it from others?
It’s more of an ionic dryer. You know how in packaging, products would usually say if they were ceramic or ionic? It really has to do with the components and how strong they are and how pure they are. So we really try to focus on using very good components. This way you use either real ceramic, or you use real ionic. With most dryers, the percentage is very low. That’s why you see the difference right away. That’s when I realized the type of heat blow dryers use needed to change.
What’s the next phase for you?
I want to focus, again, a little bit more on liquids. I have shampoos. I have a few things, but I want to create some new formulations. I’m working on that right now, and I’m working with some scientists, actually, on some formulations. I’m still in the testing phases. And I test everything on my hair. When I do things, I make the original for my hair, because my hair needs attention and it needs good products. My hair gets very dry, so once I create something that works on my hair — I already have the thick, the ethnic hair already taken care of — from there I create for lighter, thinner hair. I know when it works on my hair, it works on everybody’s hair.
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