Oribe co-founders Daniel Kaner and Tev Finger interview each other about the iconic brand’s beginnings and philosophy.
Tev Finger: How did you get started in the hair industry?
Daniel Kaner: I became friends with Aveda founder Horst Rechelbacher through my now-wife, Sonia Kashuk, who was consulting with Aveda on its makeup line. At the time, I was in scrap metal recycling, but I moved to New York City and started developing Aveda here. I found my calling—and I’ve never looked back. You?
TF: Bumble and bumble founder Michael Gordon was a family friend, and he hired me as a photo assistant while I was in high school. After I graduated, I made my way through pretty much every nonstyling position at the Bumble and bumble salon in Midtown Manhattan—accounting, sweeping, front desk, inventory, etc.—before starting to work on the product line.
DK: Do you remember when we first met?
TF: You came in to interview for a marketing position at Bumble and bumble. Jonny Sharp [Oribe CFO] was also in the room, and we immediately knew you were a guy we would want to work with.
DK: What’s your business philosophy?
TF: Be honorable, be innovative, fight harder than you think you can and have fun.
DK: What do you think is the most important aspect of salon education?
TF: Tapping into stylists’ fears and showing them that they can conquer them. I believe that inspiration is more important than all the technical stuff.
DK: I think showing different perspectives is really important. There’s no right or wrong. One of our main educational initiatives in 2012 create a form of education that really highlights different points of view through small workshops with top stylists from all aspects of the industry. It’s been so successful—I’ve never seen people more excited about education than I have in these classes.
TF: What were we thinking creating another brand?
DK: Even though it seemed like it was a crowded landscape, there was still opportunity because, in our minds, no one had done it right yet.
TF: We weren’t thinking; we were feeling.
DK: How would you describe me?
TF: Smart, outgoing, fun to be around, and, quite frankly, sometimes a little nuts…
DK: Funny, I’d say the same about you.
TF: Daniel, you’re always on the road. How many salons have you visited in the past year?
DK: Close to 600! It sounds exhausting, but visiting salons is one of the best parts of my job.
TF: Daniel, you’re always thinking on such a creative level. What inspires you?
DK: Italian gardens, people with unique perspectives, all forms of art and design, good books (I get shipments from Amazon daily). What inspires you?
TF: I’m a very visual person, so movies really speak to me. Especially chick flicks…and especially Sliding Doors [NOTE: He is serious. He references chick flicks and Sliding Doors on a VERY regular basis!] What are you coveting?
DK: Coffee, wine, bourbon and trees. Tev, what 3 items can’t you live without?
TF: My iPad3, my iPhone and my iWife (I got married last month!) [NOTE: Tev is getting married in May]. What’s one of your favorite salon-related memories?
DK: Watching you show up in a white camouflage outfit and goggles for an ice-fishing trip in Minnesota with Doug Cole.
TF: Gotta dress for the occasion!
DK: Why do you think salons have been so receptive to the brand?
TF: They like that they’re dealing with real people who really care. Plus, it’s just plain cool! Why do you think session stylists love it? (even those who are sponsored by other brands)
DK: The products really perform. It’s a testament to Oribe himself that his peers are using the products he helped develop on set.
TF: What’s your favorite thing to do after work?
DK: Pour a glass of wine and have dinner with my family. I also love the loving greeting I get from my dog, Jezebel.
TF: I like to snuggle with my pugs.
DK: If someone was making a movie of your life, who would play you?
TF: George Clooney … er, more realistically, Vince Vaughn .
DK: A mix between Daniel Day Lewis, Kevin Spacey and John Malkovich.
TF: If you were to have a completely different type of career and money was no issue what would be your dream job?
DK: Groundskeeper on a beautiful garden on Lake Como .
TF: I’d 100% be a doctor – it must be so rewarding to dedicate your life to helping people and saving lives.
DK: Style faux-pas you regret most from your past?
TF: Boxy suits and square shoes … yuck!
DK: I don’t think I have any.
TF: Daniel, that’s not true. Don’t you remember the faded jeans you used to wear?
DK: Has your first impression of me changed over the past 15 years?
TF: Slightly. When we first met, I thought you were very nice and very quiet. I still think you’re nice … but you’re not so quiet! What was your first impression of me?
DK: I thought you were 40! Fifteen years later, you’ve almost grown into your looks…[side note: Tev is in his late 30s now].
TF: What do you think makes our partnership work so well?
DK: We’re completely different people, but we’re very similar in our philosophies and our ideas about doing business. You keep things moving, while I’m a little slower-acting and more micro in thought. We’re like someone with a split personality. You complete me.
TF: I agree. You’re the yin to my yang.
DK: How has the industry changed since we first started the brand?
TF: It’s getting more sophisticated every year and constantly raising the bar.
DK: Salon owners are getting more business-savvy. The world is also a lot more consolidated than it’s ever been. What makes our products so special?
TF: All the care we put into the line –and the people behind it. What’s your favorite part of being involved in the hair industry?
DK: The people. A lot of the salon owners and stylists I’ve worked with have become dear friends.
TF: I agree. I love all the people in this industry—even some of our competitors!
Related: Launchpad Remembers Industry Legend Vidal Sassoon | Top Stylists and Industry Members Share Vidal Sassoon Memories | Oribe and Wella Professionals Present Underground: Part 1 | Oribe and Wella Professionals Present Underground: Part 2 | Somebody That You Should Know: Skin Illustrator Emma Hack | Launchpad Exclusive: Backstage with Oribe