In less than five years, ethnic hair and personal care brand Dr. Miracle’s has achieved an immense amount of success in the beauty industry and has become a household name in the African-American community. Co-founder and VP/Creative Director for Dr. Miracle’s, Ollie Johnson, sat down with BET.com to discuss how he and the other founders of the brand created this budding beauty empire. This fortunate entrepreneur outlines how hard work, education and determination, matched with a fresh idea can result in a lucrative business.
What inspired you to start the company?
Well first of all, I have to say we are not new to the ethnic hair care business. I was the Creative Director at Allways Natural and then later at African Pride hair products. In looking around at what was available on [the market], however, we felt there was no excitement. We were looking for something that would give [the industry] a new face, which led to Dr. Miracle’s.
So how did you do it? How did you turn this dream into a profitable business?
Well, we did a lot of research in the field and found that there seemed to be an awful lot of interest in medical positioning. We got in touch with some chemists and had them start working on what we call our "Feel It" formula [a “Thermalceutical Complex”, that the consumer can actually feel working on their scalp]. Our consumers are used to using hair cream, hair grease, oil and of course shampoo, so we found a way to put our Thermalceutical Complex in those forms and our consumers really love it.
Once you created it, how did you get Dr Miracle’s on the shelves of beauty salons and ultimately in the hands of consumers?
One of the things that was very key for us was [how the products] look on shelf. We wanted to bring about a more medical look so our packaging looks a bit upscale. Couple that with our knowledge, contacts and success in the industry with African Pride, we didn’t have a huge challenge to get our distributors excited about something new. So our past relationships certainly played a key role in getting our distributors to listen to us and to give it a shot, give it a chance, and to get it on the shelf. Furthermore, we have a national team of 21 merchandisers who actually go into beauty supply stores to build relationships with and educate storeowners and customers, as well as offer free product samples.
In the fickle ethnic beauty industry in which sales rise and fall as quickly as Black hair trends change, how has your company stayed consistent?
It’s definitely a challenge as I'm sure you're a lot during these economic times. We're trying to stay consistent by keeping with our program and not [panicking]. We know that our products are toward the higher end pricewise so we need to make sure our consumers know they are getting a good product for a good price and hopefully they will continue to buy.
Can you speak on the Celebrity-Look-Alike Contest?
Sure. The Celebrity Look-Alike Contest is our way of engaging our consumers. We're about having fun as you've seen in our commercials and our print advertising. The BET Celebrity Look-Alike Contest was an outgrowth of that. It was a very successful contest, by the way; we had over 4,000 contest entries and we'll be announcing the winner live prior to the BET Awards.
Great. Do you know any celebrities that currently use your products?
There are a couple we’ve been told: Mya, Ashanti, Erykah Badu, and Michelle Williams are fans of the product. Also, Angela and Vanessa Simmons recently requested our My Goodbye Acne System.
Finally, what advice would you give to our readers who are trying to start their own businesses?
It’s going to be a very tough road in starting a new business at this particular time. It’s going to be a struggle, but not [impossible]. I think the consumers are always looking for something interesting, something new, so I would say concentrate on something that you think would really resonate with the consumer, do your due diligence, and make it happen!