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South Africa, Consumer
Founder and CEO of Beleza Natural, a chain of beauty Institutes and a cosmetics factory, specialised in curly hair treatments in Brazil. Beleza Natural currently has 4000 employees, 35 locations in 5 different states, a factory, 5 training centers and annual revenues of more than $100 million US Dollars. More than products and services, Beleza Natural provides a full self-esteem experience for more than 130 thousand clients each month.
Leila started the company from scratch, at the age of 19. Recently selected by the World Economic Forum as a “Young Global Leader” (Davos – Switerzland). Chosen as an Endeavor Entrepreneur by Endeavor Global (New York – USA) and a “Rising Talent” by the Women Global Forum (Deauville – France). Awarded Female Entrepreneur of the year by Endeavor (San Francisco – EUA), “Business Women Award” by Veuve-Clicquot (Reims – France) and “Best Entrepreneur of the New Brazil” by Você SA Magazine (São Paulo – Brazil).
Strongly envolved in innitiatives to promote gender parity and entrepreneurship (CEO Champions, Mulheres do Brasil, Winning Women (E&Y) and mother of two wonderful teenagers (Pedro e Aliel)
Guest speaker on entrepreneurship, innovation and base of the piramyd consumers in several Brazilian states, the United States, France, England, Portugal, Spain, Argentina, Chile and Uruguay.
Board member of the Coca Cola Institute and ETHOS Institute
On the surface, Beleza Natural seems to be conventional beauty salon business. But it is different in two key ways: first, it specializes in tightly-curled and wavy hair. It created and patented treatments such as Super-Relaxante (Super-Relaxing) which makes this type of hair freer and softer, giving it well-defined, longer curls.
Second, it created an innovative process of application of the product – the process is similar to a factory production line: each client is treated in series by a number of different professionals in succession (each specialized in a particular activity). That creates a faster and more efficient process. And more importantly: the possibility to have lower costs and to charge lower prices, attracting base of the piramyd women as clients.
With almost 70% of Brazilian women having hair considered frizzy in texture, and conventional hairdressers lacking specialized treatments for this type of hair, Beleza Natural is filling an unmet need.
Beleza Natural is far from being a traditional “chain” of beauty salons. It is in fact positioned for an unexploited niche market – women with tightly curled hair that usually came from the base of the pyramid – and offers specialized and unique services, personal treatments and environment for costumers that are not used to it. The salons are big and spacious around 10,000² feet, are safe-zones where customers are granted freedom of personal indulgence and encouraged to be reborn into an alternative self-concept. Inside Beleza Natural, they are no longer slum-dwellers living on society’s margins. Clients find more than just beauty products and services, but a whole self-steem experience.
Nowadays, 130 thousand clients are served monthly in Beleza Natural and last years revenue was U$ 94 milliion dollars.
The company currently has 31 institutes in 5 different states in Brazil (Rio de Janeiro, São Paulo, Minas Gerais, Bahia and Espírito Santo). A complete line of products under Beleza Natural brand name; a series of specialized services; one factory and 5 training centers. Every month, the plant produces 400 tons of moisturizing, shampoos, conditioners and professional products. The factory has a Research and Development laboratory, and partnership with biotechnology universitites. Beleza Natural employs over 3370 people, 70% of former clients. 90% of Beleza Natural coworkers have their first job opportunities in the company, providing a positive impact in the community. Beleza Natural hires unexperienced young women, and professionalize them, offering salaries and benefits (meal tickets, transportation vouchers, health insurance, company products and services), even during the training period.
The company started from scratch in 1993, as the result of the entrepreneurship of it’s four partners: Zica, a former maid, who became a hairdresser along with Leila Velez and Rogério Assis, former McDonald’s atendees, and Jair Conde, Zica’s husband and a former taxi driver. Zica spent ten years in a trial and error process, mixing raw materials and stablished products to create a breakthrough formula to transform the curly or kinky hair. Leila and Rogério, created an innovative process to provide the services, similar to an assembly line, inspired on the McDonald’s production process, along with high quality standards and amazing service level. Jair sold his taxi to invest in the company, along with Leila’s and Rogerio’s savings. They have been Endeavor Entrepreneurs since 2005.
And today, future expansion is the works. As part of the strategic plan to expand the company, GP investments fund, became a partner in August of 2013 (33% of the shares). Beleza Natural has grown 142% since the investment and targets a growth to 120 institutes in Brazil, revenues of U$ 680 million dollars and 15 thousand employees, until 2020.
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