Brains Behind the Brand: Robert Powls
Robert Powls, founder of professional hair tools brand Cloud Nine, reveals the story behind his company.
“During my 50-year hairdressing career, I have held just about every job going. I started as an apprentice, then a stylist, before becoming a salon manager and then a salon owner with three salons and more than 100 staff – you could say I’ve grown up in the industry.”
“Following my salon-based career, I become the European distributor for several brands, and, after realising a gap in the hair iron market, founded ghd.”
“After I sold my shares in the company, I started working with a colleague in Korea on an advanced iron with one-touch temperature control, and Cloud Nine was born.”
“I followed trends in the industry and saw a change from poker straight hair to looks with more movement and volume. This led me to work with engineers in the UK developing an induction heated roller system called The O, which heats up in just four seconds.”
“It took more than three years and many prototypes to get there, as we had to develop completely new electronics, source materials we had never worked with before and make sure it was completely safe. After many false starts and lots of testing, we eventually got there and are very pleased with the feedback from hairdressers, as well as winning HJ‘s 2011 British Hairdressing Business Awards Innovation of the Year.
“Tenacity and belief are necessary when launching a brand. Problems crop up at every point during the process and it is sometimes difficult to see the way forward but there is always a way. Our industry is actually one of the best and easiest to launch into because it’s always changing, and hairdressers are willing to try something different. Just look at the many new products and concepts which have arrived over the last few years, all innovative and fulfilling a need – it’s inspiring.”