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From the Counter to the Corner Office with Chris Salgardo, CEO, Chipican, Founder, Lightning Bolt Industry Consulting

It's a Matter Of...Curiosity.

November 8, 2021 BeautyMatter
November 8, 2021

Charisma, intelligence and storytelling are a heady mix. Add kindness and gratitude into the equation, and you have a leader with the ability to move markets and build inspired teams. Sometimes these leaders come with prestigious educations, and sometimes the most effective leaders work their way up from the ground floor. Chris Salgardo, CEO of Chipican & Founder of Lightning Bolt Industry Consulting, is one of those leaders. Chris sits down with Kelly Kovack to discuss his career path from the retail floor to President of Kiehls, why he walked away from it all in 2017, and why he decided to come back.

[beginning of recorded audio]

Chris Salgardo [00:00:12]:
Hi, I’m Chris Salgardo and I am CEO of Chipican and Founder of Lightning Bolt Industry, a consulting agency. And to me, it’s a matter of curiosity.

Kelly Kovack [00:00:31]:
Charisma, intelligence, and storytelling are a heavy mix. I’m Kelly Kovack, the Founder of BeautyMatter. When you add kindness and gratitude into the equation, you have a leader with the ability to move markets and build inspired teams. Sometimes these leaders come with prestigious educations, but sometimes the most effective leaders work their way up from the ground floor. The beauty industry is full of such people. They start behind the counter, and some of them are now in corner offices at the biggest beauty brands in the world. Chris Salgardo is one of those leaders. Ten years at Chanel, three-and-a-half years at Bobby Brown, 18 years at L’Oréal, 12 of them as President of Kiehl’s, his career and success is well-documented. In 2017, he walked away from it all and took a break. But now, he’s back. 

So Chris, thank you so much for joining us today. I feel like we’ve landed some type of exclusive, because you’ve taken a bit of a sabbatical from the beauty industry.

Chris Salgardo [00:01:34]:
This is true. Yes, yes, yes, it has.

Kelly Kovack [00:01:36]:
So for the sake of our listeners, perhaps you can give us a little bit of background on your life in the industry and how you got your start in beauty, and then the transition from whatever that beginning place was to CEO.

Chris Salgardo [00:01:50]:
Yeah, Kelly, first of all, thank you so much for having me on here. We had the pleasure to chat on the phone, and I thought, oh, I really like her and she’s interesting.

Kelly Kovack [00:01:58]:
I know, totally spontaneously, it was awesome.

Chris Salgardo [00:02:03]:
Right? Which is always the best, that’s always the best way to get started. And speaking of starts, so for me, I really just sort of fell into beauty. I had just gotten out of high school and started going to college at my local college, and this is in southern California. And I wanted to find a part-time job. I wanted to work in men’s clothing because I always loved fashion, unfortunately, from a very young age, which became very expensive later in life. But I went to our local department store, specialty store, and they didn’t have anything in men’s, and I actually landed in a men’s fragrance position, and then I ended up doing a few cosmetic jobs, and then I would say really kind of two years later, in that two years I sort of stopped going to school, I went to Europe, I traveled all over Europe, I came back to the states, and I landed a job at Chanel. It was a makeup artist position, and I knew really very little about cosmetics, but I loved Chanel. My mom loved Chanel, and I don’t think she thought she was going to be passing her Chanel gene to her son, but somehow that happened, and what an amazing experience. So I started as a makeup artist and working behind a counter, and this was in Woodland Hills, California, and just loved it. I loved everything about it. I loved the company. I loved how diverse it was and that it has accessories and fashion and this incredible history with this woman and then all of these beautiful products, and everything had a beautiful story to it. It was such an incredible way to start in beauty. And I ended up transferring to – it was [unclear 00:03:55] at the time, it became [unclear 00:03:57]. It also happens I was there on Sunday and took a little video, being very nostalgic, and I was in Beverly Hills for another two years. And then after much of my pursuing, I finally got a job on the Chanel side – not the store side, but the Chanel side. And I started as an account coordinator, loved it. I had a small little territory in southern California and just had a ball. I’ve always taken ownership. In any job I’ve ever had, I’ve always felt like it was the most important job, and I made the most of it. From that, I became an account executive – I got promoted to an account executive. I had a vast territory, the largest in southern California and the southwest. I opened a couple of Chanel boutiques, one in Beverly Hills and one in South Coast Plaza for fragrance and beauty and was just really on this trajectory with Chanel and loving it. And true story, a friend of mine said, “You know, would you ever leave Chanel?” and this is about nine years in, almost ten. And I said, “You know, I would leave Chanel for a job at Bobby Brown,” because Bobby Brown was exploding, it was this makeup artist category, people all of the sudden were like, “What’s MAC? It doesn’t matter,” and so all of the sudden MAC was demolishing everybody, and Bobby Brown had really arisen. I loved Bobby, I loved her story, and I really thought, I could be there and I’d love to be there. And literally, I’m at my parent’s house, back when we had answering machines. I was calling my answering machine, and there was a message, no joke, from HR at Bobby Brown saying, “This is so and so, would you be interested in being a regional for Bobby Brown?”

Kelly Kovack [00:05:37]:
See, you can manifest things.

Chris Salgardo [00:05:39]:
You can. I’m a big believer in, like, I don’t throw anything to the universe, it’s about writing it down and being thoughtful and moving your career in that direction. But I made the transition, I went to Bobby Brown, I did that for three-and-a-half years, and they ended up moving me to New York, where I went kicking and screaming. I was like, oh my god, I don’t want to leave my car and my friends and I don’t want to carry my own groceries, I don’t want to go to the grocery store – I didn’t want to do any of those things. I landed in New York and I was managing the northeast and then I was going to get promoted. And literally I’d been in New York for five months and I got a call, out of the blue, and it was Michelle Taylor, who I’d worked with at Chanel many years ago, and she just called and she said, “How would you like to come run Kiehl’s?” and I was like, “Am I being pumped?” It was the worst time in the whole wide world, but it would be a meeting that would change, really, the trajectory of my career. She really said, “Just come in, meet Phillip Sheer,” who is just a legend in beauty, and she’s like, “Just come talk to them, just come talk to them,” and I thought L’Oreal, I just didn’t see the fit, I’m from Chanel, I don’t know. What brands do they have? Anyway, I went in, and 24 hours later I took the job and became Vice President of Sales for Kiehl’s. That was in 2000. Then two years later, I became Senior Vice President of Sales for Kiehl’s and Shu Uemura.

Kelly Kovack [00:07:12]:
I love Shu Uemura!

Chris Salgardo [00:07:14]:
Oh, I mean, you can’t say that name without adding love to it. He’s such a genius. I was very lucky to be able to work with Mr. Uemura while he was alive, and what an experience – and what a genius he was. And what a vision, you know? So I became Senior Vice President, and two years after that, I became President of Shu Uemura. So I really kind of moved up rather quickly, and two years after being President of Shu Uemura, this was 2006, I became President of Shu Uemura and I got Kiehl’s and I got Giorgio Armani beauty. I’ll always remember this conversation I had with Jean-Paul Agon in his office – he had this little nook for lunches, and he said, “What do you want?” and I said, “You know, I would love to be President.” This was even before I became president of Shu. I was like, “I’d love to be President of Shu Uemura or Kiehl’s or Giorgio Armani Beauty.” So be careful what you wish for, because you might get all three. And if it sounds like triple the work, you would be right. So I did that for two years. There had been some management changes and I’d worked with Edgar Huber for five years with Jean-Paul and it was really one of the most amazing times of my life. He was such an incredible boss and mentor. And then we had some changes, and then Carol Hamilton came into the picture and she became the President of L’Oréal Lux, and we got to talking and I got to just focus on Kiehl’s and give up Shu, which was hard – it was very hard to give it up, but I was able to verticalize Kiehl’s and really focus on Kiehl’s, which I felt was super important. And then I also took on the luxury beauty stores, which is the outlet division, for L’Oréal Lux, which was just fascinating. Because I had Kiehl’s stores, so I thought, well, this makes sense strategically, and I love to learn, I’m always wanting to learn and to be curious. So I took that, and I really – gosh, I ran with that all the way up until November 2017, almost to the end of the year, almost until 2018, where I had given up my assignment as President of Kiehl’s and then spent a year as an ambassador for the company and then I left and went traveling.

Kelly Kovack [00:09:32]:
I want to jump into all of that, but I think before we get to that, first of all, I didn’t know your whole history, so thank you for sharing that. I think what is so amazing is that there are so many stories like yours, of people who start on the floor, behind a counter, and find their way into leadership positions. And I think very often, people don’t even realize that that is possible, because I started also in retail, but I was in fashion, and sometimes when you’re on the floor, you’re like, “I’m never going to get off the sales floor,” because especially if you’re really good at sales. And I think it’s so important to share stories like yours to reinforce that it is one of the best places to actually – I think people who start on the floor have a very unique understanding of what it takes, because at the end of the day, those people, they are what keep the industry going, they are the last six inches. If they wouldn’t keep the sales going, none of us would get paychecks, right? They’re so important. So I love sharing those kinds of stories. While you were at Kiehl’s, you were instrumental in kind of taking what was an indie brand that had gotten some scale behind it and really blowing it up into a global business. Oftentimes what happens when brands kind of get acquired and get scaled up, if you will, the brand DNA gets watered down and they turn into something very different. Having lived in New York for almost 30 years, in most ways, the Kiehl’s DNA stayed intact. Can you share some insight into – you must have an intuitive brand-building sense to have been able to kind of blow it up but keep what made it special intact at the same time.

Chris Salgardo [00:11:18]:
Sure. Kelly, thank you for mentioning all of that because I think in this chapter of my life, and really for the past – for a while, even when I was President, and even all of the philanthropic work that I’ve done, it’s always been about trying to inspire others, right? It’s about sharing stories and paying it forward, and I’ve had a lot of great success of which I am eternally grateful for. And I think where I get the most satisfaction today is seeing others move along in their careers and inspiring them and showing them that there’s always a way you can get there, you just have to work hard and get a lot of little successes and then be patient, but really chart your path and find out what really speaks to you, which I was fortunate to find out. To answer your question, I would almost say that’s why my Chanel years were so important because Chanel really, for a long time, especially as Coco Chanel entered into her 80s and the brand in the ‘70s and it really lost its cache, and Chanel No. 5 was absolutely everywhere. And then all of the sudden, you had this guy Karl Lagerfeld come into the picture, and he really reinvented it. I mean, he is the reason that brand is so successful. And Kitty D’Alessio, who was the brand president before Arie Kopelman, she’s the one who found him and brought him in, and it was remarkable. And I got to be part of that. I got to see women fighting over the last green terrycloth bag in Beverly Hills. What I love about Chanel is they’re so disciplined and they’re good at reinventing the brand, but they don’t step far away from the DNA. There’s so many things I loved about L’Oréal. I would not be here today and have the opportunities that I do without that experience. And I got to work with the greats. And they talk a lot about an entrepreneurial spirit, and at L’Oréal, you really have to embrace that. If you want to be that entrepreneur, you’ve got to really embrace it, and then you’ve got to show the goods. And even back when Lindsay Owen-Jones was there, when Jean-Paul Agon was the CEO in the U.S., it was always about take your time and do it the right way, we do not need to blow this thing out, Chris, you don’t need to pay for all the bills. And we had a chance, Kelly, to really take a look at – this brand had been around since 1851, and it’s like okay, what made it successful? Because I saw it when I was in southern California, at Barney’s, demolish everyone’s business including my own. It was like, oh my god, if you tell me one more time Kiehl’s is beating me, I’m going to, like, jump out the window. It was such a loved brand, and so for me, it was really – when I became President, it was about I learned so much about the brand and I knew so much. First of all, L’Oreal really gave me the freedom, and the team the freedom, to build that brand as we thought would make it a success, and we had to show that pathway to success. But it was about really looking at the catalogue and making sure, do we have all of the best formulas? Are we positioned the correct way? Are we taking care of the consumer? Are we bringing that customer service, that legendary customer service, and are we continuing to level it up? And I think it was just really being patient and looking for everything that was iconic about the brand and bringing that forward. And to me, it was very simple. Today, we don’t do anything without putting the customer at the center. Although you could actually argue that you and I have always done that, because when you’re coming from the sales floor, she’s always been the most important thing. We’ve always centered everything around here, and now marketers have really – that’s just how you market, right? You don’t put the product at the center of the chart, you put the customer at the center of the chart. And I think with Kiehl’s, it was just really making sure that we were doing that and just being very methodical about every decision, every product launch, every store opening, everything that we touched, to make sure, is this serving the brand, serving our consumer? And does it make sense to the core strategy? And do we have a long-term vision with it? And I’ve never been about the sprint. Not with my teams, not with the brand. It’s always been a marathon. And it’s taking your time and showing growth and learning every step of the way. And I think that that’s how I got there with Kiehl’s. It’s always been – I’m a very disciplined person. My house is a mess, but everything else in life, I’m very, very disciplined, and especially with brand building. I stick to strategic priorities. I stick to a vision. I modify it as life changes, like what we’ve just been through as we’re talking here. It’s being that disciplinarian about how you build the brand, and I think with Kiehl’s, we were very good about expanding on the playbook and building what was already there and very strong.

Kelly Kovack [00:16:12]:
You know what I find really interesting is that I think we went through a period of time when D-to-C brands kind of emerged as a disruptive force, and one would argue kind of thinking they were reinventing the wheel, now all of them are going to traditional retail. But there was this time where that traditional brand building, that discipline, that long-term view of things, kind of went out the window, and almost this Silicon Valley mentality. I’m sure it probably came with the venture capital money, they kind of go hand-in-hand on how fast can you scale these things? And I think at the end of the day, what I find interesting now is in the past year, we’ve seen kind of a shift where the brands that are selling are getting investment – Paula’s Choice, Dr. Dennis Gross, brands that have been around for 20+ years. So I think we’re kind of going back to that tried-and-true formula of it takes time.

Chris Salgardo [00:17:13]:
I think it’s really interesting and I certainly don’t throw any shade on any brands that needs to do what it needs to do to survive. What was fortunate for me is that every one of my brand experiences has been with really big companies, whether it was Chanel, which is privately owned with the Lauder company which had such a big portfolio, and the same thing with L’Oreal. I think L’Oreal is probably one of the most strategic because they play in consumer, they play in professional, they play in dermatology, and they play in luxury. Inevitably, something is going to suffer, something is going to be down, and you have other brands that can talk to that consumer at that time. And I will always remember going through that in 2008, and we thought that COVID was far worse, but that was pretty bad, too. And I think that today, where I think brands can go awry, though, is when they – it just depends on what your financials look like. Sometimes you just have to make it because you’ve got salaries to pay and rent to pay, and I get it. But I don’t see that anyone is really going to survive if you don’t have the discipline and a long-term outlook and plan and strategy on really how to get there. And there is a lot of pressure from VCs for sure, they’ve invested and they want to see an investment there. But I don’t know how that ultimately pans out. I mean, I think Paula’s Choice is a great example because everyone is like, “What is Paula’s Choice?” and if you’re in the know, of course we all know Paula’s Choice.

Kelly Kovack [00:18:40]:
They were the original D-to-C brand.

Chris Salgardo [00:18:43]:
For sure, and she’s been around since ’98.

Kelly Kovack [00:18:46]:
25 years.

Chris Salgardo [00:18:47]:
Yeah, so there you go. You think I’ve never heard of it, and you think she’s just done this yesterday, but that’s not the case. She’s been at it for a very long time, she’s very consistent. I love consistency with brands. You need to evolve, and I feel very much that that was part of our success with Kiehl’s for sure, we’ve evolved, especially as we became a global brand, but she was very maniacal about how she just stayed in her lane and grew that brand in such a smart way.

Kelly Kovack [00:19:21]:
Thinkers. Innovators. Experts. Generating ideas for the business of beauty. BeautyMatter has built its reputation as a must-read resource for beauty industry insiders, delivering future-focused insights and actionable solutions. With the speed of innovation and increased competition in the category, access to the right analysis and intelligence is more critical than ever. Make an investment in yourself and unlock a competitive edge with a subscription to BeautyMatter. Head over to to check out our content. And as a listener to our podcast, use the code UNLOCK25 for a 25% discount.

So now I think what everyone wants to know is, so you left Kiehl’s in 2017, you certainly could have done anything you wanted from a career standpoint, but you decided to take a break. Can you share a little bit about why? And what you’ve been doing?

Chris Salgardo [00:20:26]:
Yeah. I want to encourage companies. I think that life is long and it’s not, and happiness is everything, and unfortunately I don’t think most people get to do what really makes them happy. And, you know, it’s a job and you’ve got to pay bills and you’ve got to put food on the table and all of these things; we all have to do that. But if you have the opportunity to really explore other things in life, my advice is get busy doing that. And I think they say one of the biggest regrets in life when you canvas people at sort of the end of their lives is that they didn’t take that risk; they didn’t go for that job; they didn’t fall in love, whatever it is, but it usually has something to do in the career vicinity. I loved my run in L’Oréal. It was amazing. I was there for 18 years, and I have 10 years at Chanel and three-and-a-half at Lauder. They’ve all been incredible and have helped me on my journey to be where I am today. But I knew that I wanted to try something different, and it’s as simple as that. And I also needed a break. Running a brand like Kiehl’s, I always say I don’t have to say anything about my career, it’s so well-tracked electronically, and everyone knows the brand is a big success, and that just takes a lot out of you. And I was tired. I just needed a break. I needed to center myself and figure out who I was now and who I wanted to still be. I’ve always had the commitment to myself and until the day I die, I will be curious, I will learn, I will never think I know it all. And so I saw it as an opportunity for me to take a pause. I couldn’t be President of Kiehl’s forever. I didn’t want to be the last one on the float, the homecoming queen where everyone has left the stands and you’re like, “Where is everybody?” I didn’t want that to define me. So I took the decision, and really thought it out for a long time, and I thought about what are my other passions? I needed to stay with L’Oréal for a year after, so I didn’t officially leave until November of 2018. I did some brand ambassador work for them, there were some charitable opportunities that I had built over the years and they were very gracious with me. And then I just traveled. I traveled a lot. And then I started to work on some of my passions. I’ve been doing that ever since. So it’s been two-fold. So one is I really believe that men’s is really underserved, and that’s a conversation for another time. I wrote a in 2015 called “Manmade” on grooming and skincare and I’ve been my own kind of work-in-progress with my own skin. I had horrible skin in my teens and it affected everything: my confidence, I wound up at a job and I didn’t think I could get it because of the way I looked, I wanted to date, and all that stuff. So it’s been sort of a lifelong mission of mine. So I spent a lot of time learning about skincare, developing formulas, understanding how everything works, and it’s been fascinating and so much fun – I feel like a student all over again., just in terms of the technical piece of it. I also started developing a lot of content, I’m actually writing two books, one is a little bit more biographical because like sort of as you said earlier, you need to hear people with stories like mine. You just need to, because my message to anybody out there is that you can do it, too. If I can do it, you can do it. I did it in a very unconventional way and I want that to be inspirational to others because I want them to be successful. I could talk about fashion and skincare and grooming all day, but I also love to talk about business because it’s fascinating to brand-build, I love that. I worked on a bunch of projects in then, and then COVID came I was like [screeches], break time!”

Kelly Kovack [00:24:08]:
You’re taking a break from your break.

Chris Salgardo [00:24:10]:
I took a break from my break. Well, really, because I thought the world has changed. What does it look like now? And what does my life look like now? And what’s important? And I think we’re hopefully still thinking about all of that. I have no desire to rush into a roaring ‘20s and start spending. No. That’s not for me. I live on five acres upstate and I have beautiful gardens and I threw myself into it and I just built stone walls and garden my little heart out and finally saw the flowers in front of me – it’s so cliché, but I did stop and smell the roses and I was like, I’ve never been so in touch with nature. And I have been, very luckily, I have been offered a lot of different positions ever since I left Kiehl’s and I’m so grateful that people want me to be part of their organization, but I knew it had to be the right fit, and I got a call last January from a person who works with Sofia Vergara and they asked if I would be interested in developing a beauty project with her. And I love Sofia. And the celebrity field I feel like is so crowded, and I thought I would never do it.

Kelly Kovack [00:25:21]:
No kidding. We’ve started doing these launch roundups every week and just this week, there are three new celebrity brands. It’s insane!

Chris Salgardo [00:25:30]:
What were they? I’m just curious.

Kelly Kovack [00:25:32]:
Oh, you know what, honestly, two of them I – this is going to show my age. I actually had to Google to figure out who they were because I had no idea.

Chris Salgardo [00:25:42]:
That’s awesome. Yeah, so I immediately – like I’m a visionary, I love projects. I saw Sofia and I immediately had a whole idea in my head. I’d never met her, but I just had an idea of what she would be like, and I found out this past summer she was partnering with a company out of Spain that I’d never heard of before called Cantabria Labs and they create products really geared towards dermatologists and doctors’ offices. And I’m a product – I don’t want to say junky, but I love products. I’ve tested, tried everything. I feel like you have to to be in this business. And I was so blown away with their formulas – and that takes a lot, to blow me away, because I’ve worked with incredible stuff. And I got to meet them, I got to meet Sofia, we had many long talks, and really got to a really great place and I accepted a job to be their CEO in November. I’ve been working on this project ever since, and I’ve got to tell you, it’s like I pinch myself every day. I’m like, is this really my job? Am I really this happy? Because I was pretty happy before. It’s like, is this even possible? Yeah, so a lot of new news coming in 2022, but that’s what I’ve been at.

Kelly Kovack [00:26:56]:
You know, it’s really interesting because the beauty industry is evolving so fast, and I think if you contemplate what the beauty industry was in 2017, and now that you’re kind of back in the game – not that you were ever really out, but you know what I mean, fully running a brand.

Chris Salgardo [00:27:14]:

Kelly Kovack [00:27:16]:
Yeah, you were always in the background, you know, but seriously, are you approaching anything differently? Things have changed. I mean, things changed and then they’ve kind of gone back, you know? Like, science is important again where it was kind of thrown out the window for a while. So you kind of have a fresh perspective of the industry. 

Chris Salgardo [00:27:38]:
I have to tell you, I feel so fortunate that I have been able to actually sit it out over the past year or two. And it’s been fascinating to see not only the shift in so many brands and how they’re shopped, but also, too, the retailers and how that whole experience has changed, and the shift to online. Remember, I launched Kiehl’s website back in 2001. We got on that one really, really early. And when I see it all today, my concern – it’s a little different. I think in men’s, men’s is still a huge opportunity and I see a lot of holes in men’s, and I know that as a consumer, and I know that as somebody who has studied it my entire life and all of the men that I’ve spoken with, and it’s not being served well, on all levels, I think from a product perspective, from an experience perspective, even just from a leadership perspective, like having someone who can motivate and speak to men in a really direct way. In beauty, women’s beauty, I think it is so complicated. I think there are – I hate to say it, but I think there are just far too many brands. It’s a sea of sameness. It’s a lot of the same. I was even at CVS getting my COVID vaccine, which everyone should get, and I was panning the floor and looking at everything, and it was like, wow, this is all basically saying the same thing. And I was shocked by how the price point had changed. You can get products at CVS for $60. It’s different from retailer to retailer. So I think I’m concerned that there’s just – everyone’s like if you have a creative agency and a little bit of money, everyone’s like, all of the sudden, let me come up with a brand, and there’s no a lot of longevity, there’s nothing really interesting, we’ve seen it before, and I feel like that’s going to shift, because you can’t survive. Like Sephora and Ulta have become such big, important players, and there’s only so much space in those stores. You can’t fit them all. I think we’re going to see a big shaking out in the next few years. Someone – I forget if it was 2018, there was one year where I heard they launched 2,000 brands. And this could be like a lip kit to a full beauty, everything in between. It’s shocking, and I think it’s a bit – I think it’s where the retailers have to be a bit more disciplined about the brands. Let’s place some bets and grow some big beauty brands. There’s going to be a big thinning out, I just don’t think people can survive if you don’t have innovation, if you don’t have a strong story, if you don’t have strategy. And you can see a brand with a lack of vision. You can see when it’s just simply a cash scrub and nothing more. I’m so excited to be back in beauty, it’s like bring it on. I always say when I took my first job at Chanel, Chanel was like number 24 out of 25 brands and I mean, it never won. So I’m anxious to get back in there and really get at it. I think there’s so much room and it’s going to be exciting, but it’s going to change again and in a big way.

Kelly Kovack [00:30:39]:
I agree with you. I mean, having spent the first couple decades on the brand side, I too was happy to be kind of an observer over the past couple years, and listening to what brands were going through, it’s been a tough time. I mean, even for the most seasoned sort of leaders, there are those periods where I was like oh god, everything just looks the same. And I finally feel like, I don’t know, in the past six months, I’ve seen some really, really thoughtful, innovative brands. Maybe even sort of longer. But the interesting thing to me is that they’re brands that were built in a more traditional way with a longer-term objective. You know, I think what happens is we’ve also gone through a period of time where the amount of money flowing into beauty and the deals that have happened have gotten so big that people get into it for the exit rather than for the love of the business and building a brand, and it’s palpable when that happens. 

Chris Salgardo [00:31:43]:
Yeah, and I think you see that. I think that at least for me, you can see that, and I don’t see that those brands really are going to have a footing. Like I’ve always been attracted to brands that have, again, my legacy is Chanel, Bobby Brown, Shu Uemura, Kiehl’s, all of those, and even working with Sofia and her vision, but Cantabria Labs, because they’ve been around for a long time. I love brands that dig deep and they have an interesting positioning. Without a doubt, so much has shifted to online. But I think we’re all dying to be back out there again. So everyone is, “Ah, retail is over.” It is not over.

Kelly Kovack [00:32:28]:
It is not over. Boring retail is over.

Chris Salgardo [00:32:30]:
For sure, yeah, yeah, yeah. But then it’s like, what are you carrying and how disciplined are you being about that? And what does your assortment look like? And what is your storytelling? And how are you catering to a more diverse client and making sure – when I started in beauty, I’m ashamed to say, we had like eight shades of foundation. Trying to fit America into eight shades of foundation, it took a long time to kind of fix that. But it’s a very different America that we’re – we need to be there to meet her needs, and that’s where I get super excited, and I think even brands like Fenty have done a tremendous job. I have a lot of admiration for Rhianna and what they did over there; I think it’s terrific. I think we need to continue to see, instead of people just trying to copy her – I used to always say with Kiehl’s, stop copying me. Every brand has its own story. Find out what’s magical about your business, because it will be there for sure, and if it’s not, are you really going to make it anyway? And find your own voice. It’s so much more fun and interesting. I have never went over and seen what everyone is doing, like, I want to be like Clinique, or I want to be like whoever. And I think that brands today, we’re going to see a real reckoning. I think the shopping experience is going to change. I think brands are going to have to think way differently. And this promotionality too, has really got to stop. I think it’s just out of control.

Kelly Kovack [00:33:59]:
Yeah. Well, Chris, I almost feel like we need to have a part two in 2022 when you have more to talk about, but it’s so nice, and I’m so happy to be able to share your story because I also think that it’s important – I think it’s probably one of the ways, there’s many, that you can give back is just by inspiring people. So thank you for sharing that with us.

Chris Salgardo [00:34:23]:
Oh, my pleasure. Thank you for having me.

Kelly Kovack [00:34:30]:
For Chris, it’s a matter of curiosity. He’s proven to be one of the beauty industry’s most influential voices and leaders. His creativity, authenticity, and track record for success make him an inspiration, and sought after for his insight. He believes you can’t be great at everything, but you have to be good at a lot of things. He also believes you have to have a vision. You have to know where you’re going, and you have to set the strategy, because without that, your team won’t match to the right beat. It all sets with the leader setting the tone for everyone else. So in the end, it’s a matter of curiosity, and that’s what matters. I’m Kelly Kovack, see you next time.

Chris Salgardo [00:35:13]:
Hi, I’m Chris Salgardo, and for me, it’s a matter of curiosity. And the reason for that is curiosity has been the guiding light in everything that I’ve done both professionally and personally. So stay curious.

Kelly Kovack [00:00:06]:
It’s A Matter Of is a production of BeautyMatter LLC. You can find more content and insights on and follow us on social media @BeautyMatterOfficial.