Considering their similar backgrounds and interests, it’s surprising that Kevin Wachs and Steven Goddard didn’t truly form a bond until they’d spent decades in the beauty business. When Goddard was being honored in 2015 with City of Hope’s Spirit of Life Award, the two finally connected, joining forces as beauty business legends with a passion for helping others.
Wachs, president of Earthly Body in Chatsworth, California, had owned several beauty supply stores and salons, and eventually went on to helm a pioneering product empire. Goddard, then the owner of the wildly successful haircare brand Pravana, had spent 45 years in the industry, starting as a stylist and platform artist and later becoming a manufacturing marketing guru for big brands like Revlon, Wella and Sebastian before launching his own line.
When they did get together at long last, their partnership struck just the right note–not only for the two Southern California-born beauty bigwigs but for the scores of charities that benefit from their altruism. Both avid musicians since childhood, they’re now part of the Tribe, a supergroup that donates all of its proceeds to various causes, changing the world one concert at a time. Their next charity concert, Rock the Cure 2, will be held at the El Rey theatre in Los Angeles on June 22 and 23, with proceeds benefitting the City of Hope.
Wachs was born into the industry. His mother, now 83, still owns and operates a beauty supply store that’s just a stone’s throw from Earthly Body; Laura’s Beauty Supply has been a fixture in Chatsworth
for more than 35 years. Wachs himself joined a distributor team at only 16 years old, and opened his own store after marrying his wife, Mare, in 1985. A second and third location would follow in the 1990s, but that decade would also pique the couple’s interest in manufacturing. After losing a business in the San Fernando Valley earthquake of 1994, they used money from the Small Business Administration to start creating their own products–first in the back of one of their stores, then in their house’s garage as the operation grew.
“What are you doing to improve your business? If you don’t have at least 15 to 20 answers to that question, you’re not going to improve.”
—Kevin Wachs, founder, Earthly Body
—Kevin Wachs, founder, Earthly Body
The inspiration? Demand from customers who came in requesting hemp-based products. Wachs laughs now at the public’s initial confusion surrounding the ingredient, posing questions like “Is it legal?” and “Am I going to get high?” But after The Body Shop introduced a hemp skincare line, customers were clamoring for the healing ingredient in bodycare formulas.
“We had a ton of people coming in asking for hemp products after buying them at The Body Shop–and our answer was no, there wasn’t anything like that,” Wachs recalls. “We wanted to capture that business. And we still use hemp in almost everything we make.”
The brand began with one item: a hemp hand and body lotion available in four fragrances. In 1999, the couple attended their first trade show in Las Vegas, officially marking Earthly Body’s arrival–even if their excitement was, in retrospect, slightly premature. “We wrote three or four orders that day for maybe $100 each, and we thought we’d won the lottery,” Wachs says, laughing. “We went out and danced all night, we were so excited.”
The Wachses’ first international shipment, to Ecuador, was packed in their driveway–a far cry from their company’s presence in 40 countries today. But those decades of experience with beauty stores helped them to create products customers would crave. “Having beauty stores and understanding why people buy things has really helped us as a manufacturer,” Wachs explains. “To this day, when we come up with something new, we’re always thinking, ‘Would people buy it?’ It’s about knowing at the most basic level why people want to use your shampoo or detangler. If we have a good reason for why we might buy it, the odds are, someone else will probably like it as well.”
Like the Wachses, Goddard has an intimate knowledge of the beauty industry– but his was shaped first as a hairstylist behind the chair, then as a fast-rising star representing major manufacturers. Over an illustrious career, he moved from being a stylist to marketing and helping hatch new products in laboratories at top haircare companies. He has held a number of executive positions, including Redken senior vice president of marketing and advertising; senior vice president of global new product development for Revlon in Barcelona, Spain; general manager of Rusk Company; and president and CEO
of both Wella Corporation and Sebastian International. By 2004, he left his post at Wella and Sebastian to start Pravana, a company that thrived over 13 years under his direction, until he sold it to Henkel Corp. in 2017 so that he could focus on his two outside-the-industry passions: music and philanthropy.
INTRODUCING THE BAND
It was, in fact, those twin passions that brought Goddard and Wachs together. Wachs has been a drummer since high school–happy to “treat it like a hobby,” he says. At one time, his band, Pacific, was the No. 1 local musical group in the San Fernando Valley, winning KKDJ radio sta- tion's Battle of the Bands with DJ Charlie Tuna. He eventually assembled a musical crew for charity events as a fun side gig. In 2004, the Wachses formed the Get Together Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to providing basic needs for the homeless; the foundation also promotes its own con- certs and donates all of the proceeds.
Meanwhile, Goddard, an accomplished guitar player, was being recognized for his own dedication to giving back. In 2015, he earned the prestigious City of Hope Spirit of Life Award, which honors outstanding philanthropic, personal and professional achievements. “I met Steve just before he received the Spirit of Life Award and knew he was a musician, so we started working on a show, Rock the Cure, held at The Canyon Club in Los Angeles, to piggyback along with the award event in Las Vegas,” Wachs recounts. “That year, we decided to up the ante on the events and, rather than just use my band, planned a tribute to the Beach Boys.”
“Not everybody can go to Vegas, but they can come down to the El Rey and become part of raising money for a cure!”
—Steve Goddard, founder, Pravana
Wachs reached out to a host of top-notch musicians, some of whom had actually played with the Beach Boys, as well as Carnie Wilson, daughter of Beach Boy Brian Wilson. The event was a sellout, raising more than $20,000–and Goddard grabbed a well-deserved piece of the spotlight. “I knew he played guitar and was really talented, but I’d never heard him sing. We invited him to be a part of
the show; he picked ‘Sail on Sailor’ and I thought, ‘Shoot, I’ve never heard him sing– what if he sucks?’” Wachs says, laughing. “But he came in and knocked everybody out, just killed it. He’s been a staple in all of our shows since then. He’s an amazing singer and guitarist–and quite a man as well.”
Goddard has similarly high praise for his bandmate and friend. “I’m not your typical guy; I don’t know anything about sports, guns, hunting or fishing,” he says. “Instead, I love music and the beauty industry, so there’s not a lot of guys I can talk to. But Kevin, like me, grew up in Southern California. We like a lot of the same music, and hanging out with him is a treat for me. He’s a very innovative and creative guy; we play off each other very well.”
Through his first concert with the Tribe, Goddard got involved with the Get Together Foundation, for which he now serves as president of the board of directors. Since 2015, the Tribe has performed a couple of times each year to benefit worthy causes, focusing in recent years on charities that address the homelessness epidemic. But this year, as Creative Age Publications’ CEO Deborah Carver gears up to accept the Spirit of Life Award, they’ve decided to repeat their 2015 success, hosting Rock the Cure 2 in June at the El Rey Theater in Los Angeles to benefit City of Hope. Goddard says, “Now I’m spending six months of the year in Maine, and I do similar philanthropic things on the East Coast, like a concert for wounded veterans or working week- ends at the homeless shelter. Then, in California, I’ll join in on several concerts each year with the Tribe.”
In addition to the core band of about 20 members (all veteran musicians who have worked with top musical names) who rotate musical roles, stars make frequent appearances. Legends such as Micky Dolenz of the Monkees and Mary Wilson from the Supremes are avid supporters and guest members at iconic Southern California venues such as the Palace Theatre and the Valley Performing Arts Center at California State University, Northridge. “They’re so talented. For me, it’s just a privilege to play with them or even watch them; I have to pinch myself,” Wachs marvels. “It’s quite an all-star band with a lot of talent, and they all donate their time, working for free for the charities we’ve chosen. That’s our Tribe family.”
ROCK THE CURE 2
June 22 and 23, El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles
On June 22 and 23, at Los Angeles’s El Rey Theatre, the Tribe will be putting on special performances to raise money for cancer research at the City of Hope ahead of the annual Spirit of Life Award event honoring Deborah Carver in Las Vegas. This year’s theme will be “Decades,” and they’re already soliciting influencers in the beauty biz to help introduce songs and deconstruct of-the-moment looks from the 1950s until the present day.
“We’ll be showing video clips with presenters talking about how music influences beauty and fashion, and vice versa; from Elvis and the Beatles to grunge, they’re intrinsically linked,” Steve Goddard says. “Not everybody can go to Vegas, but they can come down to the El Rey and become part of raising money for a cure!” Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. for a silent auction, with the show to follow at 8 p.m. For more info and to purchase tickets, visit rockthecurela.com or call (818) 727-7884. For those who can’t attend, you can still help by making a donation. Visit gettogetherfoundation.com to learn more.
WORDS OF WISDOM
Earthly Body president Kevin Wachs and Pravana founder Steve Goddard offer some key advice for stores to score success in today’s competitive landscape.
• The Personal Touch: Identify and focus on the things you can provide that custom- ers can’t get elsewhere. A lot of that is service, a personal touch and products that need to be smelled, touched or tried on, like fashion accessories. If you have the same things they can buy online, in a big-box store or CVS, how do you compete? Service
is so important–knowing people’s names when they come in, creating loyalty. You can get educated online, but you can’t beat the personal touch between human beings and talking to someone live. And the smell of a product is so important. You can describe the scent all you want online, but there’s no substitute for unscrewing the cap and taking it in.
• If It Isn’t Broken, Don’t Fix It: This is my new theme in life: Not everything that’s new is better. I love email, but if it’s replacing face-to-face conversation or even phone calls, that’s not better. Some of our products have gotten great improvements, but our hand and body lotion is not much different than the first we made back in the day; it’s as good as it needs to be.
• Be Proactive: What are you doing to improve your business? If you don’t have at least 15 to 20 answers to that question, you’re not going to improve. We at Earthly Body ask that every day. You’re battling for the consumer’s dollar. If business is slow, what are you doing about that? People usually don’t have an answer to that question, but you need a lot of answers—a bunch of little things, good ideas—to treat a complicated problem. Action is what matters. If you think you can just sit back and let things happen, good luck!
• Get Social: Social media has become the primary means for beauty companies to communicate their marketing message and to solicit, excite and inform customers. The store environment is no different. Look for ways to use social media to connect with and excite your customers.
• Tap Into the DIY Trend: This is growing enormously. Social media platforms such as YouTube and Facebook make it easy for anyone to successfully experiment with virtu- ally any type of beauty product. Are you stocking products that match the current DIY beauty trends? If not, this is a great opportunity.
• Encourage Customers to Try Products: Every brick-and-mortar business is competing with online sales. Your point of difference is, store customers can see and touch the products in your store. Make the experience richer by having plenty of products, especially new products, available in easy-to-use testers.