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Beauty of Change

Newport Coast resident and Planet Beauty co-founder Bahman Fakhimi shares his secrets of success.

Bahman Fakhimi of Planet Beauty
Ed Olen

A World of Beauty  
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Next time you step into one of Planet Beauty’s 15 Orange County locations, which beauty junkies can’t seem to live without, ponder the fact that when co-founder/President and Newport Coast resident Bahman Fakhimi first decided to open a beauty supply store, he couldn’t tell concealer pen from lip plumper, so to speak. But somehow – with the help of his sister, wife and parents – he managed to turn an idea for a side business into a force to be reckoned with in the OC beauty landscape. Since opening their first location at 3601 Jamboree Road in Newport Beach in April 1992, the company has expanded to 29 stores throughout California, countless brands and an educated staff of beauty experts.

Fakhimi recently took some time to tell us how he did it and how beauty has changed over the years:

How was Planet Beauty born?
I was a recent graduate of the University of Washington with a structural engineering master’s degree. At that time I was involved in my own development company in LA when the recession of 1991 came along. I had to move to OC with my family to save on cost of living. Meanwhile, I was in the process of building a huge house for a friend that owned two beauty supply stores in LA. I decided to open a similar store in OC for my wife and my sister so we could have a side income, since the construction business was slowing down.

And it remains a family business?
During the initial years of PB inception, each family member took responsibility for different aspects of the company to make sure expenses [were at a] minimum and the company [could] survive. My father was in charge of all finance and accounting, my sister and my wife and myself used to work at stores and also act as buyers. Today, each one is still involved in different capacities, mostly focused in public relations, community outreach activities, charity events, and they all still go to stores and show their faces to employees and are very close to many of them.
How does Planet Beauty stand apart from other competitors?    
Today’s Planet Beauty is far different than what it was 20 years ago. Five years ago we decided to brand PB differently than other beauty supply stores. We started to focus more on higher brands that are seldom available in beauty supply stores. Our willingness to change and stay ahead of the trends helped us tremendously during this current economic downturn.

Is education a big part of your company philosophy?
Consumers are so much savvier today than 20 years ago. They want to know about active ingredients and how a product will truly benefit them. We have an education center as part of our corporate office in Costa Mesa where employees are mandated to attend not only Planet Beauty trainings but also specific brand trainings given by the education departments of our vendors.

How do beauty trends back in the early ’90s compare to trends now?
OC was not much of a trendsetter then, but it very much is now. We sell many different items in the Newport Beach store that we can’t sell anywhere else because the customers there are the savviest and follow all the latest trends. Many things have changed in the beauty industry in the last decade or so. The ’90s were all about going to the doctor for the newest technologies to make you look younger. Now, it is all about maintaining your youth with at-home treatments, and avoiding surgeries. Right now natural lines are in. Everyone is concerned with going green – good for the environment and good for your body.

In time for the holidays, what are some Planet Beauty gift item suggestions?
Most popular products during the holidays are the cosmetic sets from lines such as Smashbox, Bare Escentuals, Too Faced, and Stila. Candles are always the perfect gift for anyone.

What beauty trends should we expect in 2011?
For spring 2011, we are going to see a throwback to the ’60s and ’70s era. There are a few different looks that will be going on in the beauty world. There will be bold eye shadow, bold lips and the all-around natural look. For hair we will see severe side parts and barrettes are going to make a comeback. Spring will offer plenty of bold colors too.

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