Find out how a hair colour blunder led to the discovery of an industry game-changer. Carmen Tal, co-founder of Moroccanoil, shares her story as the brand celebrates its 10th anniversary!
What led to the creation of Moroccanoil?
I was the owner of a very small salon in Montreal at the time and unfortunately, one of the people working in the salon severely damaged my hair. I went to Israel and my sister-in-law took me to a salon. I refused to cut my hair, so the hairdresser introduced me to [argan oil]. I was wowed by it and decided to take two bottles of it with me to Montreal. I started using the product and noticed a dramatic difference in my hair. My hairdresser began using it, too. That’s when I figured that I had something incredible in my hands.
After six months of trying to convince my husband, Ofer Tal, that it would be a good business opportunity, he went to Israel and met with the people that were manufacturing the product— which is known today as the Moroccanoil Treatment—and got distribution for North America. That’s how we started and the rest is history.
You owned a salon in Montreal? Tell us more about that.
Back then, I was a stay-at- home mom. My children started school, so I had a lot of free time. My hairdresser decided to open a salon in our neighbourhood and needed some financial help. I loved the idea. I’m not a hairdresser, but I loved going to the salon.
It was something new for me, but little did I know that it was preparing me for everything I know about the industry today. I think at the end of the day, there’s a reason for the things that happen to you—whether it was a good experience or a bad experience—to prepare you for something bigger. The business relationship didn’t work out, so after three years I sold the salon to a hairdresser that really understood the industry inside out.
So, in a way, Moroccanoil is actually Canadian?
It was born in Canada—we started the business in Montreal. The last year that I owned the salon was when I discovered the Moroccanoil brand. I had already made
up my mind that I was going to sell the salon, so the Moroccanoil Treatment came in at the right time. I had time to figure out how we were going to bring it to market.
The Moroccanoil Treatment really became a game- changer in the industry. And, as the old adage goes, “Imitation is the sincerest form of attery.” So, how does Moroccanoil manage to stay ahead of imitators? When you are a pioneer—the first one in the category—you will always be that brand, no matter how many people come after you [with a similar] packaging, name, ingredient, concept. You will always be the first and I don’t think anybody can take that away from you.
Also, I think it’s a combination of things. One of the things we’ve done is maintained the integrity of the brand. I think people see that every time we launch
a product, there’s a lot of integrity behind it.
Moroccanoil has a strong presence at Fashion Week. Why is that important to you?
It’s super important. Everything related to beauty relates to fashion—they go hand in hand. We have to continue collaborating with fashion brands. We’re not at all of the fashion weeks around the world, but we’re in the big cities. Hopefully we grow a wider audience.
My background was in fashion before I started the Moroccanoil company. When I moved to Canada from Chile, I couldn’t speak French or English very well, and the only way that I could work was in retail. So I was very lucky to find a fantastic job working at Ogilvy’s, which was and still is a very prestigious store. I made a career in fashion retail, and my last job was with Liz Claiborne, where I was the manager and buyer for their only flagship store in Canada. It was an incredible opportunity for me.
With Moroccanoil celebrating its 10th anniversary this year, what are you most proud of?
A lot of things, but one of them is that we’ve changed the lives of a lot of people: hairdressers, consumers and businesspeople. We came to the market at a time when there was saturation in the industry. I think it was very refreshing for us to come in with a very tight group of products. And even to this day, people thank us for helping them build their businesses in times when people were struggling in the industry.