Remembering Gene Martignetti
It all began for Gene Martignetti when his fifth-grade teacher signed his yearbook “To the boy who introduced men’s hair spray to the fifth-grade class. May you try and be more positive, ha ha.”
Literally born into the professional beauty industry, his mother, father, two sisters and brother were all hairdressers. Spending his grade school and high school years learning the salon industry, he graduated high school recognized as an Outstanding Teenager Of America. At the time wanting nothing to do with the salon business, he played football and studied at Elon College in North Carolina and then at Fairleigh Dickinson University in New Jersey. He soon opened Gene’s T & W Ice Cream, the first franchised ice cream shop in New Jersey to offer frozen yogurt. Gene was into frozen yogurt before anyone knew what it was. After the passing of his father, he stepped into the professional beauty industry to run the family’s distribution business.
In 1977 he accepted a position with Allen Arthur, Inc., a Minneapolis-based hair goods firm with which his family had done business. While with Allen Arthur, Inc. he was responsible for signing Terry Bradshaw to a 4-year endorsement contract for men’s hairpieces. Again, Gene was ahead of the trend by developing men’s hair loss treatments before anyone had heard of hair replacement. It was with Allen Arthur that Gene began his climb to become one of the beauty industry’s top executives. He quickly moved from District Manager to General Manager. After 15 years with Allen Arthur, Inc., Gene’s youngest son, Corey, was diagnosed with Leukemia. At the time he had no choice but to resign from his position to spend more time with his son and family.
The story then turns storybook. After six years of treatment, his son was declared cancer-free. Gene is hired by KMS, a competitive manufacturer in the beauty industry. As the Vice President of Sales and Marketing, Gene put the small California-based company on the “beauty industry map” in three short years during which company sales ballooned. KMS eventually sold to KAO Corporation for over $100 million.
Gene’s reputation for team building, people skills and marketing savvy soon caught the attention of Robert Taylor, founder of Graham Webb International and the marketing genius behind the blockbuster brands Softsoap, Calvin Klein’s Obsession and Eternity fragrances. Taylor brought Gene on board to run Graham Webb International. As President and COO, Gene puts Graham Webb International in competition with some of the biggest names in the industry, far surpassing all growth expectations. He develops and introduces the Back To Basics line. Graham Webb International was eventually purchased by Wella Corp. (now P&G Salon Professional) for over $130 million.
Now at the top of his game, Gene and his family were struck with tragedy and hardship once more. His son re-lapsed and received a bone marrow transplant from his older brother, Gino, to save his life. Gene’s 21-year marriage collapsed and ended in divorce. Graham Webb International then announced a move to California. It all happened within one month. Unable to move due to his son’s health, Gene took a position as President and COO of Minneapolis-based beauty manufacturer, Beautopia, Inc. There he quickly developed and introduced a handful of successful concepts before moving on to developing his own brand, Simply Organic.
Inspired by his family’s medical history and fueled by his research of the endless list of dangerous chemicals found in traditional beauty products he launched a health-conscious company, Simply Organic, Inc. in 2001 with the help of top medical and industry professionals from all over the world. Ahead of his time once again, he is the first to offer professional salons and spas and their guests a choice when it comes to the health of their hair and skin. Simply Organic provides luxurious services through its exclusive collection of natural and health conscious products. Gene’s mission is to share new ways to incorporate healthier choices into salon clients’ everyday lives. He consistently strived to research and develop the safest, highest quality products available; while introducing unparalleled wellness information to the professional salon community.
Gene was a featured guest on Good Morning America, Regis & Kathy Lee and The Today Show, speaking on various subjects. From beauty to motivation, he was one of our industry’s most sought after and respected teachers.
Yet Gene’s greatest pleasure came from spending time with his three children as well as his long standing ties with cancer research and children's causes including: Cancer Kids, The Children's Cancer Research Fund, The Leukemia Research Foundation, and his own Stand With Me Foundation, a charity to help kids both sick and healthy across the country.