It was, Vanessa Strunk says, a golden opportunity.
Strunk was in Los Angeles earlier this month passing out tubes of the shampoo, leave-in treatment and lip balm she created less than a year ago to revelers at the Golden Globes.
Her spot at the Golden Globes gifting suite marked an unofficial coming-out party for Body & Soul, a line of products Strunk introduced six months ago after 25 years running Chameleon Hair Designs, a salon in Rockville.
“Being able to market my product to a roomful of people like this, that was a great opportunity,” said the 53-year-old, adding that her previous marketing efforts had centered around Twitter and Facebook promotions.
About a year and half ago, she invested $25,000 of her own money and hired a chemist to create a vegan and gluten-free line of hair products. It took about a year, and many back-and-forths, before the formulas were right.
“Some people are very, very serious about what they put in and on their bodies, and we wanted to keep that in mind,” she said.
The products hit shelves last summer, and are currently sold online and at a handful of boutiques, including Roots Market in Clarksville.
Bottles of shampoo and conditioner sell for $14.99. Strunk has sold about 3,000 bottles to date, but has yet to turn a profit. She says she hopes to break even this year.
In August, she received an e-mail asking whether she’d like her products to be included in the line-up of freebies handed out to Golden Globe attendees.
At first she thought it was spam.
“I wrote back, ‘First of all, is this real?’ And then I asked how in the world they found me,” she recalled.
Rita Branch, the owner of Secret Room Events, the Los Angeles-based company that oversees the gifting suite, said she honed in on Body & Soul because it was animal-friendly.
“A lot of celebrities like all-natural products, so when I saw her ingredients, I thought, ‘Wow, this is going to be great,’” Branch said.
Branch targets about 30 companies — ranging from Starbucks and Tiffany & Co., to smaller enterprises like Strunk’s — to donate their products.
“We have many, many big names and a lot of smaller companies as well that we hope we can help with celebrity endorsements.”
The Friday before the Golden Globes, Strunk spent the day camped out at the gifting suite of the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills. She passed out nearly all of the 200 bottles she’d taken along.
“There were TV personalities, movie people, Tony Award winners,” Strunk said. “We were all in L.A. to do the same thing, and that was to get our name out there.”
Brielle Barbusca, an actress with a small role on “Scandal,” tried Strunk’s finishing spray and serum, and told her she would take them with her to use on the set of the show.
“This was a great way to market our products and put them in people’s hands,” Strunk said. “We hope that once they use it, they’ll buy it again.”
When the Golden Globes rolled around on the evening of Jan. 11, Strunk watched the festivities over fish tacos and margaritas at a restaurant in Los Angeles. She recognized a few faces, such as Jenji Kohen, a writer and producer for the Netflix show “Orange is the New Black,” who she’d met on the Friday before.
“It was all very exciting,” Strunk said.
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