10/13/2016 - Anna Zornosa on Lunch Break with Tanya Rivero
CEO & Founder of Ruby Ribbon, Anna Zornosa, joined Tanya Rivero for Lunch Break on Wall Street Journal Live to talk about the Ruby Ribbon opportunity!
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11/20/2015 - Ruby Ribbon Announces $7.5 Million Series C Funding
New Board Members and Advisors Add Strategic Heft to Company’s Quest to Re-invent Traditional Retail
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Direct Selling News - October, 2015
By Lin Grensing-Pophal - In 2012, Anna Zornosa had the feeling that existing shapewear options just didn’t cut it. Her first experience with shapewear, she says, was an experience that many women have: It was “very unsatisfactory.”
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If you've found yourself putting off shopping for a new bra because, say, it's not as exciting as buying a new dress or pair of shoes, would you be any more likely to get it done if the store came to you? At your office? The New York Post has me thinking it's a new trend that's part amazing convenient and part kinda crazy, but either way, worth investigating (and now that you know this smart fit-trick for avoiding back fat, you're one step closer to finding the perfect bra).
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Inc Magazine - April 29, 2015
By John Brandon - The apparel industry is dominated by huge chains and major labels, but startups are making a name of their own by offering unique products and filling a void. Want a pair of shoes with a pump in the sole that keeps your feet cool? Or a dress that is custom made to your exact measurements and shipped for free to anywhere in the world? Only these small businesses are able to customize and differentiate so specifically to meet your needs.
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Health Magazine - December, 2014
By Maria Ricapito - Shape strategy: A hidden elastic (rollproof!) waistband hits just below your bra, while the retro stitching and mesh panels shape and de-bulge midriff, tummy and hips.
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Financial Times - September 23, 2014
By Sarah Mishkin - ...“We’re at the point in history when we have more experienced women who have exactly the background that VCs trust – and the observations as to how to tackle a space – that are the hallmarks of a good entrepreneur,” says Anna Zornosa, founder of ecommerce clothing company Ruby Ribbon...
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San Francisco Chronicle - September 5, 2014
By Maghan McDowell - When launching Ruby Ribbon in 2011, Anna Zornosa faced two challenges: shapewear’s unsavory reputation, and the direct-sales model she planned to use to get her products into the closets of her customers.
“They would say, 'Oh, I’ve been to those house parties before — I don’t think that’s going to be so much fun,’” Zornosa says.
But that problem proved to be no problem at all. Despite lingering Tupperware-party connotations, direct selling — also known as “social commerce,” in which sales are made directly to a customer without a retail store — has gotten a face-lift from the next generation.
The new direct sales companies are offering fashion and beauty products through legions of sellers who are combining the tradition of personal recommendations with tech tools that are a far cry from peddlers past, and a handful of Bay Area women, including Ruby Ribbon’s Zornosa, are leading the charge. Among them is Jessica Herrin of Stella & Dot (with jewelry and accessories), Lori Bush of Rodan + Fields (dermatological skin care) andElenor Mak of Keaton Row (personal styling).
Last year was the best in the past four or five years for direct selling, says Direct Sales Association President Joseph Mariano, who has been representing the organization for more than 30 years.
In 2013, the direct-selling sales force in the United States reached a record high of almost 17 million. That’s thanks, in part, to the recession. But the increase in direct sales businesses — “the original social network,” Mariano says — goes beyond sellers with excess spare time and a need for extra money. It reflects a trend among the younger generation of embracing entrepreneurship; of blending business with the personal; and of flexibility in when, where and how one works, he says. “You can be social, commercial and technological at the same time, so it’s the perfect mix.”
The flexible nature also seems tailor-made for the lives, and social habits, of many women. Consider it the original method in which housewives were able to “have it all.” Mariano estimates that more than 80 percent of the direct sales force is women.
Stella & Dot’s Jessica Herrin unflinchingly cites her primary motivation for starting the San Bruno jewelry and accessories company as “the opportunity to reinvent flexible entrepreneurship for modern women using a combination of high touch and high tech.”
“High tech” has become a key characteristic of the Bay Area’s next generation of direct sales companies. Although Mariano recalls a fear during the dot-com boom that the Internet would threaten the appeal of purchasing from a human being, “it turns out, direct selling is a perfect complement to Internet sales,” he says.
A comfort with sharing online certainly hasn’t hurt, but whether the people at the startups are called stylists (as at Stella & Dot) or consultants (Rodan + Fields), they’re using technology to expand their customer base in ways that go way beyond simple social media.
In other words, the new “door-to-door” is often “screen-to-screen,” and although much of the initial sales still happen in person, the sales possibilities are extended through technology.
Many of these companies, like Stella & Dot, are describing themselves as technology companies, Mariano says. “But they still have that human element that is still critical.”
Stylists use Stella & Dot’s Dotty application at trunk shows to personalize a customer’s experience, while Keaton Row has totally forgone house parties or in-person consultations in favor of online-only interaction in providing personal styling (and shopping) services.
In Burlingame, Ruby Ribbon recently launched a training tool, Connect, that allows its stylists to train “in sips — while she’s doing the rest of her life,” Zornosa says, who grew up watching her mother sell Avon. “I thought, 'What would my mother’s business have looked like today?’” For many, that might mean bringing smartphones to the sidelines of a soccer field.
“It’s turning her passion into a way to make money,” says Keaton Row’s Elenor Mak, who developed an affinity for the direct sales business model while working at Avon. She launched her own service in 2012 with Cheryl Han. “It empowers everyday people by combining innate creative skills with a business platform and training.”
Helping women — both by making money on their own terms and by developing business skills — is a major motivation.
Burlingame hairstylist Sheri Bass joined Ruby Ribbon as a stylist in August 2012. “It was more of an emotional decision than a financial one,” Bass says. But since then, the single mom has become successful enough to put her son through college, and has developed a team of 47 women. Still, the initial inspiration remains. “I feel like I’ve gained a lot of confidence in helping and mentoring other women and helping them achieve their goals.”
Rodan + Fields CEO Lori Bush says many of the company’s consultants are drawn to a sense of community among other consultants. She’s found that the personal development skills provided through the company’s training programs have helped many women develop a sense of self.
Rodan & Fields consultants rely on their person-to-person network while using tech to extend the options. The skin-care company provides mobile tools that allow consultants to essentially have their office on their iPad, Bush says. It also provides personal websites for each consultant that act as a portal to the company’s e-commerce platform. “Technology, in our opinion, has modernized direct selling and made it even more relevant than it’s ever been,” Bush says.
In the land of startups, where social networks have made many people a lot of money, and women are known for breaking the mold, a reimagined approach to direct sales makes perfect sense.
“We are a people company, a fashion business and a tech company,” Stella & Dot’s Herrin says. “And we are giving her everything she needs to be successful.”
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Burlingame, CA (PRWEB) - June 18, 2014
Ruby Ribbon announced today the promotion of Independent Stylist Regina Viscount of Linwood, NJ, to Senior Director. Viscount is the first Independent Stylist to reach this level of the company’s career plan since the company launched in August 2012.
Ruby Ribbon sells a unique line of women’s apparel via independent saleswomen, called Stylists, who sell the product at pop-up retail events in living rooms across the country.
In just 16 months, Viscount has become a trailblazing leader at the company. She has built her personal sales team from 0 to 128 Independent Stylists and has mentored 11 of these Stylists into Leaders. In this time, she was promoted five times as she increased her personal sales as well as signed up new saleswomen to the company. Now as a Senior Director, she has five Leaders on her team, each of whom must sponsor and manage at least three Stylists themselves, along with generating $4500 per month in team sales. At this new status, Regina will earn 40 percent commissions on her personal sales as well as up to 10 percent on her entire team’s monthly sales.
Anna Zornosa, the Founder and CEO of Ruby Ribbon, believes this is a pivotal moment for the company. “We did not expect this achievement to happen so quickly, but we are over the moon it has. Regina’s promotion shows that our career plan and product offerings are creating big opportunities for women,” said Zornosa.
Viscount’s personal success at Ruby Ribbon has been fueled by the company’s own explosive growth due to high demand for its unique product line. Ruby Ribbon’s mission: ensuring that women of all ages, shapes and sizes look and feel their best, has given Viscount the confidence and motivation she needed to become one of the company’s most successful Stylists.
“An average week for me includes selling our one-of-a-kind product, providing style advice to women, sharing this amazing opportunity, and virtually training and managing my team,” said Viscount. “I realized early in my Ruby Ribbon career that technology would be essential in helping me streamline and better manage my business.”
Viscount credits her early embrace of technology as one of the reasons her business has grown so quickly. She uses more than 10 apps, which allow her to instantly manage and communicate with her team.
“A direct sales company such as Ruby Ribbon has a road to success that is paved with the achievements of its Stylists. Regina is a perfect example of the incredible opportunity available at Ruby Ribbon to grow quickly and have the potential to earn big,” said Betty Palm, the company’s Advisor and former President of Dove Chocolate Discoveries.
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PureWow coverage - April 2014
Ah, shapewear. Sure, it’s the equivalent of being strapped into a corset for 12 hours straight (that’s also
riding up). But it’s the price we pay to look two sizes smaller, right?
Wrong, if you’re slipping into a
Ruby Ribbon piece
This brand-new company holds claim to what they call
--everyday clothing items with lightweight shapewear
built right in
. It’s your basic T-shirt, skirt, dress or pants, but with a secret slimming layer.
You may have seen this in
dress form before
, but what sets Ruby Ribbon apart is that the technology expands to your entire wardrobe. For example, the pencil
($79) has a smoothing slip with a
thin silicone grip
that helps it stay in place. The
($59) uses subtle ruching and a built-in shelf bra (sizes 32A to 44H) to lift and enhance. And all the
($59) feature a five-inch-wide tummy-control band for those days--er, weeks--you decide to skip Pilates.
But what really sold us was how the clothes look. We were shocked to discover that the
little black shift dress
($119) is as chic as anything we’d grab at Bloomie’s. And when we threw a
($69) over one of the
($49), well, hello summer uniform.
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Silicon Valley Business Journal - September 17, 2013
By Lauren Hepler and Preeti Upadhyaya - It's 6:30 on a Thursday evening in the ritzy Silicon Valley suburb of Los Gatos, and about a dozen women have already gathered to talk over champagne at the upscale clothing boutique Bella Rosa.
The main event is about to begin: A trunk show for Burlingame-based fashion startup Ruby Ribbon, which melds the old school model of Tupperware parties with the growing e-commerce field.
Ruby Ribbon has raised $11.5 million in venture funding after a $3 million seed round led by Trinity Ventures in May 2012 and an $8.5 million Series B round led by Mohr Davidow Ventures in early 2013.
Founder and CEO Anna Zornosa's mother really was "an Avon Lady," selling makeup to friends and family at small gatherings.
Now, Zornosa and her team of 200 independent sales associates, or stylists, sell patented shapewear at in-person trunk shows. The sales operation is augmented by e-commerce stores run by each stylist.
"If my mom had Facebook or a smartphone, what would her business have looked like?" asks Zornosa, a veteran of tech and media companies like Yahoo and Knight Ridder Digital who has also served as an adviser to several startups.
In addition to the booming e-commerce and retail startup field, Ruby Ribbon is seeking a piece of the $10 billion shapewear industry brought to the masses by the company Spanx. Zornosa and her Chief Merchandising Officer Patti Cazzato hope to meld shapewear garments like camisoles and slips with more fashionable active wear in the sphere of yoga titan Lululemon.
"Active wear is very functional, and so is shapewear," said Cazzato, a former yoga apparel company founder and veteran of Levi Strauss & Co. and Gap Inc. "It seemed very natural to bring them together."
The company has 200 stylists in 35 states and is approaching $1 million in revenue for its first full year in business. Sales at each trunk show average about $750. Garments range in price from $39 to $89.
Stylists, who invest $200 or more in the company to start their sales operations, earn a 20 percent commission for sales of $750 or less, with the possibility of earning up to 40 percent for sales of $1,500 or more. Retailers who host trunk shows also earn a small fee.
The hybrid direct sales and online sales model has already gained traction with jewelry company Stella & Dot and cookware business the Pampered Chef.
Katherine Barr, general partner at the Menlo Park office of Mohr Davidow ventures, said she was immediately drawn to Zornosa's entrepreneurial vision and market opportunity.
"This is one of our select few (investments) in consumer commerce," Barr said. "The market is both massive and includes strong tail winds."
She said the combination of personalized trunk shows where women can try on the apparel over drinks — there are now three or four such events across the country per night — is a powerful initial sales strategy that is broadly applicable to many different markets.
Add to that the convenience of Ruby Ribbon's e-commerce websites for each stylist, which allow customers to place follow-up orders. The sites are also outfitted with analytics to better understand those customers through information like order history and sizes.
"E-commerce as a follow up is really scalable," Barr said.
Zornosa has grown her core team to 16 people, including a small operation in New York, and anticipates that number to double in the next year. The company manufactures in several locations around the world, including major operations in India and more complex fabrication processes in the U.S.
"It's already growing very quickly," she said. "That's the fun part of this — it can be exponential."
Crain's New York Business - July 14, 2013
By Adrianne Pasquarelli - White wine was flowing as a group of 20 women gathered at the Park Avenue home of Cathie Black on a recent June evening. But they weren't gabbing about politics or education with the former Hearst Magazines chairman and briefly tenured New York City schools chancellor. Instead, they were slipping into shapewear—the slimming undergarments that magically make bulges disappear. Ms. Black was hosting her first party for Ruby Ribbon, a two-year-old direct-sales company in the mode of Avon or Tupperware.
"It was hysterical; they were running upstairs in our apartment trying things on and looking in different mirrors," said Ms. Black, who met Ruby Ribbon's founder while at Hearst and has recently taken an advisory role in the company. "This is a way to empower women to have their own businesses."
Ruby Ribbon is one of the latest direct sellers to enter the marketplace. But the women it recruits aren't your grandmother's Avon Ladies. Armed with Twitter, Facebook and a host of other digital tools, these sellers leverage their growing online networks to market items from clothing to beauty products with a swipe of a screen. They earn commissions of as much as 40%. Some of the modern-day peddlers—inspired to join the fray in part by the jobless recession—host parties at their homes. Others simply post products on their Facebook feed or tweet about hot new merchandise to make a sale.
Venture capital is coming in
The category is increasingly lucrative. Last year, U.S. sales in the direct-selling market were $31.63 billion, a 6% rise over 2011, according to the Direct Selling Association. Now that the model has evolved into the digital sphere, venture capitalists are also getting on board—Ruby Ribbon, for example, has received $12 million in funding since its founding.
"These companies all started as the modernization of the direct-sales model, but as cooler, hipper companies with a bit of an online presence," said Alison Jatlow Levy, a retail strategist at consulting firm Kurt Salmon. "The VC firms are saying, 'Of course there's a market.' "
In the 126 years since Avon Inc. was founded, companies from Amway to Arbonne have helped women earn a living, offering flexible hours and the power of entrepreneurship. But online social networks are making it far easier to market merchandise. That convenience can turn into big revenue for the parent companies. Since relaunching in 2007, Stella & Dot, a San Bruno, Calif.-based jeweler, has amassed $200 million in revenue through its direct-sales force..
Not every category is a winner. Women traditionally hate shopping big retail stores for shapewear, for example, and might prefer to do it at home or online. But players offering skirts and tops might have trouble differentiating themselves from brick-and-mortar brands.
Costume jewelry has a strong track record in the industry. Park Lane, which touts itself as the "leader in direct-sales jewelry," has been in business since 1955.
Now two-year-old Chloe + Isabel, which counts Ashton Kutcher as an investor, is making a splash. Launched two years ago, the company offers its pendant necklaces and floral-drop earrings for $20 to $200.
Not just anyone can sell them. Salespeople are often vetted and expected to undergo training—only 15% of applicants are recruited, said Chantel Waterbury, founder of the Manhattan-based company. Its merchandisers spend about three hours learning the ropes through videos, phone sessions and webinars, and must pay about $175 for a startup kit. Commissions can run as high as 30%, and sellers are encouraged to move beyond home parties to partner with local boutiques and salons.
"We're teaching social-media campaigns—it's a rigorous curriculum," said Ms. Waterbury, who hopes to reach revenue of $100 million by 2016 and soon expand into handbags. "I'm focused on helping [the seller] make money but also on making her more competitive."
Some of the new firms are practically reincarnations of the old model. Anna Zornosa, a former Yahoo executive who is the founder and chief executive of Ruby Ribbon, is the daughter of a former Avon Lady.
In addition to attracting Ms. Black, who is working as an adviser to a handful of digital startups, Ruby Ribbon has so far recruited 140 sellers. Each ponies up $200 as an initial investment for training and sample merchandise. Ruby Ribbon launches a new product every three months and plans to build its 34-state network nationwide. The company recently generated more than $100,000 in monthly revenue.
"The Avon Lady of 10 years ago didn't have the benefit of technology to get her orders," said Ms. Zornosa.
"It's a very intriguing model," Ms. Black added. "There's nothing like Ruby Ribbon in the direct-selling space."
Making stylish connections
Similarly, Elenor Mak used to work for Avon before founding style advice site Keaton Row, which launched in January. Through social networks, the site connects personal stylists with women too busy to plan their own wardrobes, and enlists them for everything from online outfit selection to in-person closet cleanout. Stylists then collect commissions of about 10% of everything women buy from the retailers Keaton Row partners with, such as Gap Inc.'s Piperlime.
It's an unusual twist on the direct-selling model, since stylists are basically offering their own opinions, but users pay nothing for the service.
Though a financial investment is not required from potential stylists, they are heavily scrutinized for their personal style accounts, such as Pinterest and Polyvore. Since April, the company has gone to 1,000 stylists from 200.
"We're really an outsourced sales force for these retailers," said Ms. Mak. "Where they'd pay their sales force, they're paying us instead."
Women's Wear Daily - June 17, 2013
By Rachel Brown - After only about a year in business, budding direct-sales shapewear brand Ruby Ribbon is bringing its product expertise to the next level with the hire of Patti Cazzato as its chief merchandising officer.
An apparel industry veteran, Cazzato held senior vice president positions at Levi’s and Gap before launching her own yoga apparel line, called Clary Sage Organics, in 2008.
“I have always found myself in bigger businesses, but the growth part is what I love, and I love the fact that Ruby Ribbon has an opportunity for explosive growth,” said Cazzato, who recently sold Clary Sage Organics. “They have a traction that I haven’t seen for a long time. It is really exciting for me to be a part of it.”
Ruby Ribbon, which has offices in Burlingame, Calif., and New York, has been a hot commodity in Silicon Valley and raised $11.5 million in Series A and Series B funding from Trinity Ventures and Mohr Davidow Ventures. Its vision is to amplify the effect of traditional direct selling with the connectivity of the Web. More than 50 percent of its direct-sales representatives, dubbed stylists, have at least 250 Facebook friends, and each of them is set up with their own Ruby Ribbon Web sites. So far, there are 140 stylists in 33 states, a number that’s expected to grow to as much as 1,000 by the end of the year as Ruby Ribbon focuses on building its national presence.
An annual sales estimate was not available, but the company could generate sales in excess of $5 million by 2014, according to industry sources.
Anna Zornosa, chief executive officer and cofounder of Ruby Ribbon, believed the time was right to augment the brand’s executive ranks.
“The company is at a point where we have proven the product concept, revenues are growing, the sales network is expanding and we are really well funded,” she said. “I wanted to get the company to the place where we could hire absolutely the best in class. I waited to get maturity under our belt to draw a person who’d be attracted to a winning formula.”
At the moment, the brand has 35 pieces separated into three segments: fashion, shapewear and shaping basics, a group that contains its best-selling leggings. In its pieces, Ruby Ribbon puts a smoothing slip it has named Intomi, made out of an exclusive nylon-spandex blend. The brand’s retail prices range from $39 to $69.
“It’s slimming, but it is not your grandma’s tight, tight girdle,” said Cazzato. “I felt there was room to take what they have, but really grow with this innovation. I see a lot of new categories, new fabrications, updated styling and unique Ruby Ribbon distinction points where people would recognize Ruby Ribbon on the street.”
The priority for Cazzato will be to solidify Ruby Ribbon in the fashion category. Proprietary prints made their Ruby Ribbon debut in the spring with a zebra-print camisole, and going forward the brand plans to introduce additional prints and different necklines.
“We meet so many women who are purchasing their first piece of shapewear. We teach her that she should have multiple pieces….When you start showing her that it’s made with a zebra print that can pop out of an open-neck blouse, her appetite goes up and up,” said Zornosa. “When you think about products that are designed and worn to be seen, there is huge potential.”
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Wall Street Journal - April 30, 2013
Offering pop-up parties selling shapewear that blends Lululemon style with Spanx support, Ruby Ribbon Inc . has won fresh investor backing to expand nationwide, VentureWire has learned.
The company, which has grown to 100 stylists in 30 states since first crafting the product 8 months ago, closed an $8. 5 million Series B round led by Mohr Davidow Ventures with participation from existing investor Trinity Ventures. Valuation was north of $25 million.
The idea behind Ruby Ribbon is similar to that of jewelry company Stella & Dot, kitchenware company Pampered Chef and other virtual retailers building a national brand with an army of independent sales people who tap their smartphones and social networks to host events. But the Burlingame, Calif. -based startup has a more intimate focus, selling camisoles, slips, pencil skirts and other shaping basics made with a material which sucks in and smooths select body areas.
"There's a reason why there are two women on the board," said MDV's General Partner Katherine Barr, who led the round on behalf of her firm and joins Trinity Ventures General Partner Patricia Nackache as a director. Asked whether it was awkward bringing the deal to her mostly male partnership at MDV to evaluate, Ms. Barr replied it wasn't.
"I work with a bunch of adults, so there was no snickering," said Ms. Barr. "Anna (Zornosa) did a good job of focusing on the business opportunity, but yes the guys had to go to their wives" to completely understand how the product works.
Along with enthusiasm for the $100 billion apparel category, Ms. Barr said Ruby Ribbon founder and Chief Executive Anna Zornosa impressed her team with her business acumen and entrepreneurial skills. She also liked the sales model of independent stylists which cost Ruby Ribbon virtually nothing to enlist.
"It's shockingly capital efficient. In order to scale it doesn't need much," added Ms. Barr.
Ruby Ribbon provides Web sites to individual stylists who, after watching a training video and investing about $200 to buy samples of the product for women to try on at parties, set up their own mini-shops. On their Web sites, stylists can order product, track earnings and inventory, plan and manage pop-up parties in living rooms, exercise studios, beauty salons and other sites.
Most parties draw between 6 to 8 women and result in $750 in sales, according to Ms. Zornosa. Stylists, who are paired with a mentor so they can share sample inventory and grow their business in tandem, are paid a higher percentage of each sale as they increase their volume.
For example, stylists earn 20% commission on sales up to $750 and 40% on sales of $1,500 and above.
The recent round will be used to improve back-office functions, adding a gamification layer to stylist Web sites and purchasing more samples in anticipation of bringing on new stylists.
Ms. Nackache said although she had known Ms. Zornosa since she served as an adviser to Trinity-backed Affinity Labs Inc . nearly a decade ago, and had heard good things about her from several startups since, she wasn't certain she wanted to back her until she saw her in action.
"What sold me was watching her learning curve over those three months" she spent doing due diligence on whether the idea worth her time, said Ms. Nackache. "I watched her network her way into all these industries, develop a core set of advisers and common team. I thought, 'wow, if this is indicative of her longer-term trajectory then I'm getting on this bus."
Trinity Ventures, which invested $3 million in Ruby Ribbon last year, also backed retail startups Starbucks Inc ., Jamb Copyright 2013 Dow Jones and Company, Inc. Copying and redistribution prohibited without permission of the publisher. a Juice Inc . and Blue Nile Inc . and more recently Zulily Inc . and Beachmint Inc.
Ms. Zornosa said her top priority will be ensuring each stylist can build a successful business.
"We'll be measuring our success based on (each stylist's) success. When companies stop doing that, that's when they get into trouble."