As part of our ongoing series to celebrate Canadian talent in the industry, we chatted with Giovanni Gallo who does sales, marketing and product development for the female-founded, Canada-based hair tool company, Framar. We discussed the family company’s history, how Framar filled a gap in the market and why because of stylists, their business is so successful.
Can you tell me a little bit about the history of the company?
It’s called Framar for “Frank” and “Maria,” my parents, and the company is 35 years old right now. It all started with my dad going over to England – that’s where he discovered using foil for highlights as opposed to cap and needles, so he brought that teaching back with him. He had a little salon where my mother was a receptionist. She bought rolls of foil at the grocery store but would get foil cuts on her fingers. Together they decided to go find a manufacturer where the foil would already be pre-cut. Finally, they found one in the States that did it. They decided to sell it and they would go from salon to salon in Ontario trying to sell this and teach this new technique to salons. After a while they decided it wasn’t worth it to do it that way, so they went to a distributor instead.
My mother grew this business by making calls from the basement of our house. They were the first ones to do roll foil and the first ones in North American to sell hair foil. When I got involved, we changed everything from products to packaging. No one in the foil category had ever made a brand out of foil. It was always commodity-based like saran wrap at the grocery store – it’s about who can give it to you for the cheapest. We didn’t want to be the cheapest but rather the best preforming – and make our products look the best.We became friends with stylists on Instagram. We hit that wave really early. From there, everything fell like dominoes and started falling into place. My mother still runs the company to this day.
What sets your products apart from anything else on the market?
In most industries, everyone just makes the same exact product but just puts it in a different box – we like to change everything. If there was a popup foil that comes out like a tissue – I need to make sure mine is different in terms of the aluminum content, texture and even the way it comes out of the box has to be different. I would change everything possible.
We have nothing against our competitors, but we never focus on making the same run of the mill product in a different box. We make something different. Better. Something that performs better, grabs the hair better, helps colourists save time. Same thing with colour brushes and clips – colour brushes hadn’t been changed in 80 years. We changed them around the world.
Do you think it’s important to support local businesses?
As a Canadian company, we definitely think so. We try to do as much in Canada as possible. Up until four months ago, we were still producing here in our own factory in Canada. Anything I can do in Canada, I do – if I’m printing materials – I make sure that’s done in Canada.
Are you working on anything new or noteworthy?
We make products that add excitement to people’s lives. We recently launched new foils with new patterns that give the colourist excitement. It looks like art in the hair and looks so beautiful in the hair and clients get excited about it. It becomes a conversation piece. Like our rose gold foils for example – clients feel like they’re being treated really special with something so elegant.
We’re definitely one of the companies in the world that’s really attached to stylists and we’re always coming up with different stuff – whether it be products, causes to support or places to donate to.
Big companies create products and tell stylists what to use. They’ll say, “here it is now go buy it.” We reserve engineer it. We go to stylists and they tell us what to create. That’s why our company has blown up so much. The direction doesn’t come from us it comes from stylists.