Marketing grad a driver behind beauty enterprise
If you’re not evolving in the beauty industry, you’re falling behind. Trends change from season to season, and keeping up—or more importantly, staying ahead—can be a challenge.
Luckily for Edmonton-based company, EvelineCharles, it’s a challenge that fuels president Lina Heath (Marketing ’97).
Lina's second cousin Eveline Charles opened Bianco Nero 43 years ago. Since then, with the help of Lina, Charles has grown that business into a multi-million dollar company bearing her name. EvelineCharles now employs more than 200 employees across in 7 salons and spas in Edmonton and Calgary, 2 hair and aesthetic academies, and a product development arm that manufactures and distributes products around the world.
As a driver behind the evolution of the company, Lina continues to find new ways to grow the business. Most recently, she negotiated and penned a deal to open EvelineCharles’, the first of what she hopes will lead to a chain of franchised stores with one of the world’s oldest names in retail—the Hudson’s Bay Company.
Lina says this is just the beginning. “We’ve built a strong foundation, Eveline and I, over the past 20 years. The next 20 years is all about where we can leverage the business model that we’ve built.”
The vision to innovate
In addition to franchising EvelineCharles salons and spas, Lina is determined to take the growing EC Labs and the EvelineCharles Academy brands to the next level.
EC Labs employs scientific research and development to manufacture personal care products that use high performance, natural ingredients, which are often locally harvested from Alberta’s agricultural industry. The division has also hired graduates from NAIT’s Chemical Technology program to help its cosmetic chemists develop the formulas used in the products.
The EC Labs division has also been expanded to include business-to-business sales. They now manufacture and distribute products to be sold in drug stores and therapeutic practices throughout Canada and the United States.
To ensure their success, Lina has worked hard to perfect her marketing strategies. “We study trends for everything,” says Lina. “Product design for our retail products, for example, is much more than the colour of the season—there is real science behind beauty. When we design a product, we have to know the target market and understand their preferences.”
Lina also envisions continued growth in the way they train their students within the EvelineCharles Academy. To do this, Lina has established the EC Virtual Classroom, a suite of online courses that are offered to students remotely across Canada.
“Our company went through a lot of changes over the past few years,” Lina says. “We have to compete with consumers’ access to information, which is growing so quickly. So, as a business, we have to evolve even faster in terms of the quality, consistency and safety of our service.”
The insight to endure
For Lina, finding a successful career not only in marketing, but within an industry she’s passionate about, has been a dream since childhood. She fondly remembers growing up in the small, northern town of Falher, Alberta, where she’d use glossy magazines as her inspiration for the beauty experiments she performed on her sister.
In 1995, while in NAIT’s Marketing program, Eveline offered Lina a receptionist job at her salon. Lina was determined to prove herself and work her way up in the company. She learned the business, and gained valuable insight into the company’s operations in the process. Thanks to her passion for the job and her commitment to hard work, Lina was promoted to store manager at the age of 20.
More than 2 decades later, the fire for the industry hasn’t extinguished. Lina continues to exceed the expectations and gain the respect of her peers. In return, she has earned recognition from the Young Presidents’ and World Presidents’ organizations.
Her secret to thriving in such a fast-paced industry? Persistence pays. It’s a marathon, not a sprint, she says. “You have to be able to push through the difficult times to get to the glory.”