During our hour long conversation I asked Sherri about industry icon Irvine Rusk who I had the privilege of meeting back before he sold his eponymous professional hair care line to Conair in 2003.
During our phone interview Sherri told me she trained under Rusk who was "wonderful" when she became part of the Rusk team.
When I inquired about Rusk's post-retirement projects Sherri told me he and his wife Louise were in the process of creating a brand new line of professional hair care products inspired by plants from Irvine's native Scotland. The new Ilka line features sweet gale which is from an area of Scotland not far from where Rusk was raised.
In an interview with Modern Salon Magazine Irvine explained “I became intrigued by this special plant and began to investigate. He noted “Sweet gale is found only in Scotland and the surrounding area, and a little bit in Canada. The oil from this plant is so special and used in various skin care products, but is not in any hair care line. I became obsessed.”
The Creation of Ilka
Rusk recruited the assistance of a top chemist specializing in formulating with natural ingredients and incorporated wild, organic and sustainably harvested sweet gale along with other special plants such as pot ale, bere barley, sea kelp and sea pink.
Rusk and his wife Louise worked with a top chemist specializing in formulating with natural ingredients and came up with nine products divided into a line for color-treated, fine-limp, and coarse-thick hair. Ilka, the name of the line, according to Rusk, is a "variation of an old Scottish word meaning ‘for everyone.’" He noted “we are in our infancy.”
Rusk is also marketing the Ilka products differently than he did in the past with Rusk. Their unique marketing plan does not call for doing the standard hair show route or gathering an educational team. While Rusk told Modern Salon "other people do this" type of marketing "and do it well", the Ilka education will be offered online through the Ilka website. The products are priced "for the higher end", but not for "the nose-bleed market."
Sherri Jessee had great things to say about Rusk and his current project which is great praise indeed.
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