Interview with Daniel Kaner – Oribe Hair Care

Daniel Kaner, President and Co-Founder of Oribe Hair Care, talks to Estetica Magazine about the Oribe brand, its positioning and identity within the hair and beauty industry and its journey so far since become part of Kao Salon Division in 2018.

Q:  It’s now five years since your partnership with Kao Salon Division was created. Tell us about that journey so far?

A: It’s been a great journey so far! We already loved the Kao philosophy, its people and what the brand represented, so as far as Oribe was concerned we wanted them to carry on with what they had already been doing so well for such a long time. The Kao Corporation is a 130 year old company with strong core values and a global culture. The professional division has a long history in the salon industry and is also one of the most ethical corporations in the world. In fact, the Ethisphere Institute, a leading US think-tank, has recently named the Kao Corporation one of the World’s Most Ethical Companies for a record 16th consecutive year – and the only Asian company to have made the list every year since Ethisphere began its ranking in 2007.

Kao also has quite an aggressive environmental social corporate governance standard, which is something that’s very important to the Oribe brand identity. During Covid we had two 3rd party coaches who came to work with our senior team – one specialising in diversity, equity and inclusion; the other in sustainability. These are considerations which are very important to us as we have a broad audience within our community.

Strategic Partnerships

Daniel Kaner

Q: Being part of Kao inevitably means Oribe has a strategic partnership with Goldwell, especially in term of professional colour. How do the two brands work in synergy and what are the advantages and benefits for Oribe?

A: This is such an important partnership for us as we don’t have a colour line. We identified Goldwell as a strategic partner for us. Their colour is the gold standard in our industry and a perfect companion for our brand. A professional colour service offers such support to the salon communit. Before we partnered with Kao we had already been working in synergy with a number of colourists and educators in North America. It was amazing, because we slowly began to see Oribe products filtering in when they worked on-stage and then of course the synergy with Goldwell which evolved, to the point where educators were using this expansive colour palette to deliver education on-stage ‘the Oribe way’.

Core Values

Q: What are the core-values of Oribe that make it such an outstanding professional brand both in terms of reputation and quality?

A: We set out with the objective of being ‘extraordinary’. The big question we asked ourselves was how we could stand out from the crowd. We therefore worked on all the component parts: the fragrance had to be special, rather than a stock fragrance, so we had it custom-blended; the packaging and design came as a result of a long careful study and finding the right designer…. everything mattered. Choosing the right salon partners and the relationships we build with them was also vital. We began to learn not only what it takes to be better than average, but what’s required is to grow and get even better as the journey continues. As a result, all Oribe creatives are not considered as ‘employees’ but are all trained leaders and mentors.  

I’m so proud of our team and the many stakeholders involved in our brand. Many of our partners have been with us from the very beginning. I think back to when we started the brand with limited resources; many of our partners believed in our goal… which allowed us to turn our vision into a reality. Our goal is greater than selling products; it’s become more about strengthening our larger network and making sure that we evolve together and leave the community stronger than we found it, providing an interesting future for younger artists and owners.

Daniel Kaner

Signature Fragrance

Q: Tell us a bit more about that beautiful fragrance.

A: We’ve worked together with the team for so many years to make products that we’re all proud of and that consumers can enjoy using. One of the products I am most proud of is not a hair care product but is, in fact, the Oribe signature fragrance. It’s a beautiful mix of bergamot, cedarwood and Cuba’s national flower, la mariposa blanca (white butterfly jasmine), and we were able to capture the fragrance in the form of incense, which adds to our signature fragrance; it’s beautiful. We worked with legendary incense makers on the Awaji islands off the coast of Japan. It’s a simple meditation, I love burning it throughout the day… it incites a subtle pause or change of focus.

Into the Future

Q: As an industry, we can now feel fairly safe in considering ourselves ‘post-pandemic’. What has the Covid learning-curve meant to you in terms of both business and social attitudes?

A: We had numerous calls with Oribe stakeholders and key leaders throughout the pandemic. What was most important to them was the safety of their staff and, of course, consumers as well. We really worked hard to create an environment which was safe for all. It was amazing to experience the great leadership that was delivered by everyone concerned. The second important thing was how our leaders shared their experiences. Hairdressing creates a very collegial quality within people. Therefore, they were able to support one other with essential advice and information. It’s an altruism I’ve always seen during my career within our industry; it has been absolutely extraordinary to watch it during such challenge times as these.

Another thing I want to mention is how the pandemic highlighted how fundamental the salon experience is to people. Everything has become more digitalised in recent decades. People miss the human touch; the salon experience is one of the few remaining ‘hands on’ life events which cannot go online. The closure of salons during the pandemic really had a strong impact on people; they endured the temporary loss of what is, for many clients, a social experience, as well as a hair & beauty service. 

Oribe Experience & Signature Session Event

Q:  The Oribe Experience & Signature Session Event (above) during which we met you this Spring in London was been a fantastic opportunity to meet, discuss and exchange ideas and aspirations. What makes you most proud about the event which we all experienced together?

A: London was just one destination on the tour. We had already been in Sweden, Rome and Milan in Italy, Munich in Germany. After London, we headed back to Chicago in the USA.  The most wonderful part of the Oribe Experience & Signature Sessions was the fact that they took place at all! Being all together to share hair creativity and education in person after so long of not being able to. We’ve learned the importance of seeing each other and all being together.  That’s what really counts.

Daniel Kaner
Daniel Kaner, President and Co-Founder of Oribe Hair Care

Q: Are there any future exciting plans you’re able to share with us involving both Oribe and your activities within the brand?

A: There is so much to share. An exciting project in the international arena as that for 2023 we have just signed a collaboration with our first non-English-speaking artist in Japan. Another wonderful development has been the launch of Oribe Hair Alchemy. This has sold out globally and is proving to be incredibly successful. We’ve also been working with an Italian manufacturer to develop some customised hair tools. Of course, we’re also looking at both our existing product lines, as well as researching and development new ones, so there’s a lot coming up in the Oribe pipeline!

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