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Pricey toiletries for 4-legged friends
Renee Ryan loves her white boxer, Austin. "For a single girl in New York, sometimes your dog is the only consistent thing in your life," says the cosmetics industry veteran, who started business development firm Ryan Basics in 2003.
But Austin balks at going to the groomer. In her search for products to use at home, Ms. Ryan discovered an overlooked niche. Though brands like Hermes and Gucci had introduced pet accessories, nobody sold shampoo or scent for pooches.
In May 2006, Ms. Ryan launched Sexy Beast, hiring a former Kiehl’s chemist to work with a Swiss perfumer to develop a 100% vegan line of dog-grooming products. Ryan Basics, now focused on the Sexy Beast business, has six full-time staffers; revenues are forecast to hit $750,000 this year.
Salons’ extra treat
Fancy department stores spurned Sexy Beast, but luxury salons lapped it up. The line is now sold locally at Henri Bendel’s salon. Last month, Harrods introduced it to London shoppers. The web site (sexybeaststyle.com) accounts for 30% of sales, and Ms. Ryan is eyeing expansion to upscale pet boutiques and luxury hotel chains.
Initial marketing, which took the approach of using Sexy Beast between visits to the groomer, “was just too complicated,” Ms. Ryan says. She also “wasted” more than $100,000 on three different “very large, very well-known” public relations firms, she says. “I thought we needed the big PR companies because they had the contacts, but they didn’t understand the brand.”
SEXY BEAST line of dog-grooming products.