Her entire career was in the skin care and cosmetics industry…. for women. So how did Pamela Viglielmo get involved in men’s cosmetics and skin care? “I was living in Shanghai and I thought I would go into finance but when a friend introduced me to someone in beauty, that all changed.” Pamela spoke several languages including Mandarin, so she was a hot commodity to many firms in the 80s and 90s looking to sell in Asia.
Pamela began working for a cosmetics line in distribution for Asia and Europe. “I traveled all over the world representing several firms over the course of my career.” Then children came into the picture and Pamela wanted to be closer to home. “Consulting for companies was ideal because the travel was less frequent.” For several years she attended the largest beauty trade show in Bologna, Italy. “The show had every beauty product you could think of. I had a company called Gramercy House.” Each year she showcased three product lines at the show and had a couple of home runs.
But in 2008 when everyone had to retrench, it was her husband who suggested that she buy her own brand. “I was finishing up a consulting job for a food company at the time. They wanted to add a beauty company to their business and I had done an enormous amount of research and discovered that the largest areas for growth were for natural products and men’s products.”
Pamela says she was in the right place at the right time. “In my research I came across a small men’s skin care firm that was started in Nashville, Tennessee called Menaji. The owner wanted the word “Men” in the name and added “aji” which means power in Scandinavia.” She saw an opportunity to scale the company and so she took her husband’s advice and bought it.
Then the hard part began. Pamela worked with the owner the first couple of years to streamline the operations, add to the product line and enhance the branding. She also built a team to work with her to grow the company. “It was important to move the headquarters to my home state of Connecticut. I support Connecticut businesses 100% and we manufacture our products in the US.”
Pamela loves the line and believes in skin care for men, “Men’s skin is different, and they need products formulated just for them. Shaving is a huge part of men’s lives and we have a product to simplify that chore and eliminate ingrown hairs.” Menaji concealers and tined moisturizers are great for men who are on camera. “The ESPN crew loves our line and uses it all the time, on camera and off. We have a great shine reducer that’s perfect for on camera and in real life.”
When she told her children what she was doing, her son laughed and said no one will ever buy it. But now he stops by the house on the way to Vermont to get his supply of body scrubs and lotions. When asked what it’s like to own her own company Pamela says, “When I worked for others, my ideas might fall on deaf ears but now, when I have an idea, I can act on it. This is so much fun!” She works long hours often talking with Europe at 6am and Asia at 9pm but says, “The hours are longer, but the rewards are bigger.”
Buy a business in an area where you have expertise and make it your own.