HairBoutique.com recently caught up with Antonio Soddu by phone for a long and enjoyable chat about his newest hair care line. Antonio was wonderfully charming and fun as he shared great wisdom and insights about his travels in the world of curly hair.
The Creation of Curl Friends
A large number of people with naturally curly hair have historically pumped large sums of money into "miracle" hair care products that promised freedom from both the real and the perceived agonies of curly hair. Unfortunately, magical fix-it products that actually worked at alleviating naturally curly hair issues were few and far between. Enter famous hair pioneer Antonio Soddu and his revolutionary Curl Friends hair care line. Specifically developed for naturally curly hair it embraces the unique challenges of curly heads. Not only does Antonio sport his own head of naturally curly hair, he is no slouch in the hair care development game. Antonio really knows the hair care game. In a prior life, before Curl Friends, Antonio co-founded Bumble & Bumble (B&B), that fabulous NY City salon that continues to capture the fancy of many celebrities, stylists and consumers. When Antonio helped to co-found B&B in 1979 it was a small little company. Like the mythical Jack and his magical beanstalk, Bumble & Bumble sprouted into a huge company that was eventually wooed and won by cosmetics giant Estee Lauder for a pretty penny. As Antonio remembered "We started with a dog and it turned into a giraffe". Antonio went on to say that "all of his companies start small and just seem to go crazy with growth until they are very big".
This is good news/bad news for Antonio. While he loves providing great hair care solutions for the world, he also prefers smaller intimate companies where he an unleash his creative hair genius and see direct benefits for the consumers he loves to help. As he pointed out, "a smaller company allows for the development of focused products that have the highest quality".
The huge success of B&B is ultimately why Antonio decided to leave and start over again with a much smaller line, which he christened Curl Friends. After two years of intense research and product tweaking, Antonio released the fabulous Curl Friends product line that offers fabulous solutions for curly hair. Curl Friends was lovingly created as a result of Antonio's compassion for the masses of frantic curly headed consumers that fight their hair with an ongoing determination to control it into submission. Who could understand curly hair better than Antonio who was endowed with his own head of ringlets at birth? His ongoing wrangling with his own curls created a very special love and understanding for all people with curly hair. Antonio absolutely loves working with curly hair. Not only does he understand it, he always listens very carefully to his curly haired clients and has empathy for their various hair care challenges. He believes that there is nothing more beautiful than gorgeous natural curl.
Antonio's obvious love for creating gorgeous curly haired styles automatically netted him a huge following of curl-endowed stars, models and other celebrities. He noted that anyone with difficult or unmanageable hair was sent to him to be transformed. Although he still works with a few old time clients, Antonio has stepped out from behind the chair into the lab and is consumed with the ongoing development of the Curl Friends products.
Antonio's Driving Force
What drives Antonio's passion for developing top-notch products? Antonio oozes honesty, and love for all hair care consumers. This caring, coupled with his intense passion for providing the highest quality of products available, is what drives Antonio to constantly push for better products. Antonio is also driven is to help everyone with naturally curly hair to love the hair that they were born with and have a "quality life experience with their hair". As he pointed out, "if you can learn to love and enjoy the hair that you came into the world with, you will be so much happier". Antonio believes that "people with naturally curly hair actually have more choices with their hair than those with stick straight hair". He explained that "curly-haired folks naturally have the gorgeous curls that people with straight hair struggle so hard to achieve, only to watch the curls disappear after just a few hours. At least when people with curly hair temporarily straighten their hair, it lasts a lot longer than the curls a straight-haired person achieves". Many younger people don't understand how to make their hair behave and maximize the beauty of natural curls. He laughed and said that young people feel "especially helpless that they inherited curly hair from their families and are clueless how to work with it". Which brings us back to the main reason that Antonio created Curl Friends.
What Is Curl Friends
OK, so what exactly is the revolutionary product and how does it help curly hair? Curl Friends is a comprehensive system of high quality hair care products that provide special conditioning needs for any degree of curly, dry or unmanageable hair for men, women or children.
Recognizing that environmental factors play a significant role in the condition of your hair, Antonio designed seasonal and climate-specific products, which make curly, dry or unruly hair a thing of the past. Curl Friends conditions and repairs hair that has been overexposed to chemicals or the natural elements. If you don't happen to have curly hair you are still in luck. Although Curl Friends is a comprehensive system of hair care products specifically designed for the special conditioning needs of curly hair, it is also wonderful for dry, damaged or generally unmanageable hair. Antonio made a point of explaining that the Curl Friends product line is very gentle and you don't have to use a lot to get fabulous results. The product line is designed for all the products to work in unison with each other. It also gives consumers control over their hair. This revolutionary line currently includes Curl Friends Shampoo, Curl Friends Low Humidity Cream, Curl Friends High Humidity Gel, Curl Friends Curl Power and Curl Friends All Weather Shine.
Constant Tweaking & Improvements
He has so much passion and fun with his line that Antonio constantly works towards enhancing and improving the quality of the products. Nothing is left to chance with Curl Friends. Antonio explained that he personally "makes sure that he understands every single ingredient and how it will act". Antonio laughed and told me that he suspects that "he gives his chemist a constant headache with all his picking and questioning". Every single ingredient in the product line is hand picked and tested. Antonio refuses "to settle" and he believes "that consumers should not settle for anything that is not top of the line". He personally worries about everything from shelf-life to how the products will interact. He always enjoys hearing from his customers and getting feedback about how the products can be improved. Antonio listens to those who use the products because he loves their interest in helping him create the best products. He told me that when his clients have a problem with something about the line he really likes to know. Why? Antonio said "that behind every objection is a new discovery". Antonio believes in "letting it happen". He pointed out that you should "block nothing" that customers or consumers want to share.
Success At Home As Well At The Salon
Historically the beauty and hair care industry developed salon quality products that worked for curly hair in the salon environment. However, those very same products did not provide the identical results at home. This frustrated a lot of consumers. Antonio specifically designed Curl Friends to provide satisfying results at home as well as in the salon. He commented that "many times clients go to their hairstylist and when they leave they love the results. However, by next day they find that they cannot control their hair or get close to duplicating the results that they experienced in the salon. Curl Friends helps them learn to style and control their hair at home". The product works just as well in the salon as it does at home. All of the products interact and work well together. They were designed specifically to do so.
Curl Friends Secrets
The Curl Friends products work great for your hair but they have an added benefit. You can use them for dual purposes. For example, the Low Humidity Cream is fabulous for curly or dry, damaged hair but it can also double as a wonderful skin moisturizer or cream for razor burn. Antonio reported that men can use a little of the soothing cream on their faces after shaving. The Curl Friends shampoo can also be used as an eye make-up remover. The Curl Friends products act as a fabulous barrier to humidity, which is the bane of natural curls. The product is never sticky and you don't have to rinse off your hands after using the product like you do with so many products. You can use the product to moisturize your curls or skin but you don't have to worry about mess or goo. Curl Friends is designed to let users adjust their product usage needs depending on the current humidity. When there is a lot of humidity you use more product, when a less humidity, less products. This not only saves product use, it saves time and money.
What's next for Curl Friends? Although he would not disclose future plans, Antonio said that he is working on a hot new discovery for the line. He did agree to share the fact that there are additional Curl Friends products in the works. Antonio said that he "is close to releasing some great new products including a wonderful seaweed based conditioning pack that will leave your hair silky smooth". He confided that "a fabulous new styling product will not be far behind". Antonio also said that a very light scent was being added to the Curl Friends High Humidity Gel. Curl Friends is also working hard on developing consumer instructional information that will help users maximize the benefits of the Curl Friends product line. These new instructional materials should be ready soon. Antonio believes that if he can give his customers tips on using the products that they will really learn to enjoy their curly hair.
The entire marketing strategy for Curl Friends is designed around communicating with consumers to help them successfully use the Curl Friends products. As Antonio pointed out, "if you don't teach your customers to use the products you develop for them, they will have diminished results".
Antonio Soddu has been working with hair for most of his life. He spent five years traveling the world as an ambassador for L'Oreal as well as directing hair styling schools in his native Italy. He co-founded the wildly successful Bumble & Bumble line and is now passionately working to bring his fabulous Curl Friends line to the world. Antonio believes that once a curly-haired or problem hair person tries Curl Friends, they will never go back to any other product. Ever. Why? As Antonio explained, "every new day is a new experience" and "people who try Curl Friends will be glad they did".