Marco Pelusi arrived in Los Angeles in 1997 with decades of experience in the salon industry. His last name is known all over the East Coast because his uncle Philip owns 15 eponymous salons. But Pelusi was an unknown here, and needed additional certification exams before he could even start working.


He worked in product development for well-known brands Framesi SPA and Joico Laboratories Inc., and eventually put out his own shingle on Robertson Boulevard in West Hollywood in 2005. Few came. But things changed when Pelusi launched his own line of hair products in 2006. He soon attracted celebrity clients like Vivica A. Fox and Carol Alt.


"It's provided me so much PR," Pelusi said of his product launch. "I've been able to tap into the buzz makers and I've gained a lot of celebrity clients."


Pelusi's products were recently picked up for sale at Palmetto natural beauty stores in Santa Monica and West Hollywood. They're also sold at Le Meridien at Beverly Hills, and at Pelusi's salon and Web site.


The personal product line is a proven formula for success in the salon business. Art Luna and Nick Chavez have both gained prominence with their lines, and Frederic Fekkai's products have made him an international superstar.


Pelusi is working to expand his line. He plans to come out with a styling foam this fall and dry scalp and "bodifying" shampoos next year. Pelusi's products are unique because they contain collagen to protect color-treated hair from fading. The products' ingredients are pharmaceutical grade, so they don't come cheaply at $35 a bottle.


Healthy Alternative?

Reed's Inc., a manufacturer of all-natural ginger sodas, likes to think of itself as an alternative to the big soda pop makers. But when the firm took an alternative approach to going public, eschewing a traditional IPO, it fell flat.


Reed's went direct to consumers with a stock offering in November 2005, advertising a $4 per share, $8 million public stock offering on soda bottle tags. But it turned out Reed's didn't have written proof of Securities and Exchange Commission approval for the offering and was forced to rescind it and offer buyers their money back.


Last January the Securities and Exchange Commission asked Reed's to resubmit its financial registration and by April, the resubmission hadn't yet been approved. Chief Executive Chris Reed decided to pull the plug on the IPO and offer buyers their money back.


"It was a lot more onerous than we thought it was going to be," he said. "Otherwise we might have fought the SEC harder."


Reed's got the final go-ahead from the SEC in December, at which point the company went public through a reverse merger. It's now trading over the counter at $3.70. The company still isn't profitable and has yet to issue guidance on when it might see black.


Reed hired an investor relations firm last month, with an eye toward a second offering, complete with more tags on ginger beer announcing the IPO. Reed expects 3,000 to 4,000 responses, since the last time they rolled out the shares, the company had nearly 6,000 stock buyers.


Not everyone is bubbling over the concept.

"If it takes this long and is that hard to get it done, it's going to be that much harder to sell the shares, in part because when it's a public offering and it's not going to be listed on any exchange when it goes public, it's not liquid from day one," said Ken Nofziger of Duff & Phelps Investment Management Co. The company still has no analyst coverage.


Second Chance

Tom Cruise recently took over at United Artists, the storied, but recently struggling film studio. Former Miramax mogul Harvey Weinstein may be attempting a similar resuscitation.


His Weinstein Co. purchased the Halston fashion brand last week with private equity firm Hilco Consumer Capital. The partners are attempting to revive the legendary brand that once counted Elizabeth Taylor and Andy Warhol among its clients. Halston is also credited with introducing ultra suede.


Weinstein's interest in the fragrance and fashion world isn't so surprising. The "Chicago" and "Shakespeare in Love" producer has for several years given funding and financial advice to Marchesa, a young, but high-profile fashion house. Weinstein was also executive producer of "Project Runway."


Tamara Mellon, co-founder and president of shoe company Jimmy Choo, presented Weinstein with the deal and will now provide creative direction and help structure management at the new Halston.


Mellon was a big fan of Halston founder Roy Halston Frowick, who died of AIDS in 1990.


"I have long believed that the glamour, elegance and timeless modernity of the clothes he created are as relevant today as they were when he stood at the epicenter of the fashion world 30 years ago," Mellon said.


The partners purchased Halston and other assets from New Jersey-based Neema Clothing Ltd. for an undisclosed sum. Hilco also recently acquired CJ Apparel Group and Caribbean Joe brand.


Staff reporter Emily Bryson York can be reached at (323) 549-5225, ext. 235, or at eyork@labusinessjournal.com .

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