Shay Sabag, president of Deep Sea Cosmetics, in Miami, FL, not only launched a trend; he transformed it into a specialty retail mainstay.
In the constantly changing field of specialty retail, which thrives on trends and the newest “must-haves,” Shay Sabag’s story stands out. For seven years running, Sabag has been thriving in the industry with the same product concept. So what is his secret? Staying consistently new. In other words, Deep Sea Cosmetics continually offers its customers cutting-edge products in addition to the bestsellers they have been purchasing for years. And it’s not just individual products that are launched, but entire lines of cosmetics. Case in point—just last year, Deep Sea unveiled a revolutionary new line of anti-aging products (The Age Perfection) that promises to turn back the clock and rejuvenate skin.
“Cosmetics are like fashion. They will never disappear. People will always want them. It’s a lifetime product, a year-round business,” Sabag says—and the number of products is infinite.
Specialty retail beginnings
The man behind it all, Shay Sabag, immigrated to the United States in 1999. By the following year, he had made his first foray into the field of specialty retail in the Broward Mall in Plantation, FL.
During the holiday season, he expanded to six units. For the next three years, Sabag managed his retail business, all while he completed a Bachelor’s degree in Electrical Engineering from Florida Atlantic University at the Boca Raton campus.
In 2003, Sabag moved to the Connecticut/New York border to give a colder climate’s holiday season a try. Starting in the Trumbull and Danbury Fair Malls, he expanded to eighteen carts in seven different centers, carrying an assortment of products and specializing in cosmetics.
Dead Sea products come alive
But one particular set of products changed everything: Dead Sea products. Sabag immediately recognized their potential and could see that they would have lasting impact on the industry. Subsequently, Sabag would become one of the pioneers of the industry. “At that time, no one had heard about the Dead Sea,” he says.
The first products Sabag sold at that time were Nail Kits, containing Nail Buffer, Cuticle Conditioner and Hand and Body Lotion. “That was the winning concept at the time,” he says. Then he added the Body Salt Scrub, which sold “like crazy,” and soon, he was also selling Body Butter and Facial Peeling Gel.
Sabag has been in the business for so long, that he says he can intuitively predict the next bestseller. “I got to really understand these products and knew that the Dead Sea cosmetics line of products can go as far as any other line of cosmetics in the world and even beyond due to its natural ingredients and medical benefits,” says Sabag.
Swimming towards wholesale
With wholesaling in mind, in 2004, Sabag returned to Israel to look for a factory and a lab that would be able to bring the most innovative high-end line of cosmetics to the market, “he says. His intention was to create cutting-edge Dead Sea cosmetics using the best technology and formulations available. Once his factory was secured, and his line was ready to market, retailers quickly jumped on board. Carts began to sprout up in Florida and spread throughout the East Coast, eventually making their way throughout the entire United States.
By the end of 2004, Deep Sea had approximately 60 carts along the East Coast retailing their products. By the second year, that number jumped to 150. And today, during the bustling holiday season, Deep Sea carts number 450. The product line has also grown, from 12 products to approximately 60 by Deep Sea Cosmetics Laboratories. Retailers carry an average of 40 different products on their units.
But Deep Sea doesn’t swim alone. In fact, Sabag estimates there are about 15 competing companies selling Dead Sea products through specialty retail venues today. “What has kept us so unique, different and powerful is the service and honesty we give to our customers,” says Sabag adding that he supports retailers through good times and bad in every aspect of the business. “Everyone that works with us stays with us,” he adds.
Deep Sea prides itself on an extensive training program. The company sends two trainers to each retail location so retailers can learn all aspects of the business. They educate retailers about the benefits of the products and sales techniques based on a polite demonstration approach. This gives the customer a joyful purchasing experience. “It’s another reason for our long-term business stability in malls,” says Sabag. Training takes an average of five weekdays. “We go to each location if a retailer is in different malls. We tailor our approach to the type of mall in order to create the wining outcome which is repeat customers,” he says. Deep Sea Cosmetics has a very high percentage of repeat customers which point to the quality of the products and its superior customer service.
The complete treatment equals multiple sales
Deep Sea products have instant beneficial results, which can make a significant effect on overall purchases. “We demo one product, and thereafter introduce other products, giving the customer the best professional advice for best complete treatment results,” says Sabag. “It’s our obligation as a cosmetics distributor to provide the customer with the best professional advice. It’s often happened that Deep Sea representatives give a professional consultation even with out making a sale,” says Sabag.
Promotional incentives (such as discounts and free gifts) are offered to attract repeat customers to the malls in order to make fast sales without the need to demonstrate the products. Deep Sea retail locations stock many product categories including: Body Care, Facial Care, Nail Care and Age Perfection. Many mall customers are already familiar with the Deep Sea Cosmetics brand and visit the retail locations on their own. Sales representatives invite passersby to try a product, or they generously hand out free samples in the hopes of encouraging future sales. A DVD showing Deep Sea’s products in action plays at the cart to entice customers to give the products a try.
Packaging is also designed to attract customers’ attention. The key concepts are “clean, upscale and contemporary,” says Sabag. New packaging is introduced every three years to remain contemporary and eye-catching.
A natural solution
Deep Sea’s products use natural ingredients to heal and rejuvenate all types of skin. “The big advantage is we are not using chemicals. The sale of natural products gets bigger and bigger. We are the only company that sells paraben-free, alcohol-free, and mostly fragrance-free products,” says Sabag.
The star attractions are, of course, the ingredients from the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea, located in Israel, is a landlocked salt lake with waters nearly ten times as salty as the world’s oceans. It is renowned not only for its salty seawater, with high concentrations of minerals, but for its therapeutic black mud. Its restorative waters have been known to heal skin problems, such as acne, psoriasis, eczema, and skin allergies. It is also said to fight the signs of aging and decrease muscle tension.
The Dead Sea draws tens of thousands of people each year from around the world. But for the thousands who have neither the time nor the budget to visit, Deep Sea Cosmetics brings the Dead Sea’s healing powers into homes across the country at an affordable price.
In addition to Dead Sea minerals, many other natural ingredients can be found in the Deep Sea product line: sweet almond oil, citrus oil, beeswax, apricots, the list goes on.
As for what products sell the best, Deep Sea has many bestsellers, with some products remaining in the top ten year after year. These include the Body Salt Scrub, Body Butter, Facial Peeling Gel and the Nail Kit. Black Diamond Magnetism Mud Mask from the Age Perfection Series, a product used as an anti-wrinkle and anti-expression line treatment, was recently added to the list.
A new series
The Age Perfection Series made its debut in the fourth quarter of 2009, and encompasses a total of 16 products that blend Dead Sea minerals, peptides (an alternative to Botox), anti-oxidants, vitamins and herbal extracts to enhance health and beauty and slow the signs of aging, says Sabag. As we age, collagen production slows. But if the skin is hydrated and collagen structure is preserved, youthful and vibrant skin can be found on women of all ages. The ingredients in the Age Perfection Series are designed to turn back the hands of time.
Hexalin is one of the key ingredients in the line. It is a combination of six peptides, proteins and natural plant amino acids that help reduce facial expression lines and increase skin tightening, says Sabag. Especially suited for mature skin, Hexalin works by stimulating and preserving collagen production. Products with Hexalin include Elasto Lift Thermal Mask, Expression Corrective Cream SPF-15, and Intensive Revival Facial Serum.
Another product in the Series, Multi Vital Night Anti Wrinkle Cream, uses Helioguard as an ingredient, made from nourishing red algae. Along with Dead Sea minerals, vitamins and peptide complex, this cream is intended to accelerate skin renewal, promoting a soft, smooth, younger appearance.
There is even a cream to help with age spots: White Angel—Pigment Whitening Cream. Featuring an exclusive whitening complex called Nano White and infused with peptide complex, vitamins, Omega-3 and Dead Sea minerals, this cream helps reduce the appearance of age spots and evens out skin tones.
And last, but definitely not least, the series includes Adore Skin Tightening Instant Face Lift. Through a unique peptide complex of natural amino acids that acts as an anti-wrinkle agent, this product promises fine lines and wrinkles will disappear for a total of eight hours after only a 60-second application.
Because of the special ingredients in the Age Perfection Series, and the much-sought-after effects they produce, age defying products carry a higher average retail than the rest of the line: $160 – $350 a product.
What men want
Men are another important demographic Deep Sea serves. While they don’t purchase as much as women, their interest is increasing, “recently men are really into cosmetics,” says Sabag. Products for men include scrubs, lotions, sensitive cleansers, aftershave, and body butter, all with a “unique men’s fragrance,” Sabag says. There are also unisex products in the Deep Sea line, such as Body Salt Scrub and Body Butter.
The magic word in the sale of every Deep Sea product is “treatment.” Because of the many beneficial and active ingredients contained within the products, they are much more than cosmetics, they are like “shelf drugs,” says Sabag.
“We introduce new products every couple of months. We always work in sync with our retailers. Our customers will come with a demand. They ask for it—we develop it,” says Sabag.
Swimming in the Deep Sea
Training is but one of the many tools Deep Sea offers its retailers. Deep Sea helps retailers find locations and employees, as well as outfits their units with eye-catching displays.
Start-up packages range from $5,000 to $10,000. “We also have a lot of independent retailers that do everything themselves,” says Sabag.
When it comes to establishing a location, Deep Sea excels. As of 2008, Deep Sea has had an exclusivity deal with Simon Property Group. In other words, Deep Sea is the largest Dead Sea specialty retailer in Simon malls. “In 2010, we were the biggest specialty retailer in the Simon Property Group for the third year in a row. Deep Sea has 150 locations in Simon shopping centers,” says Sabag.
Deep Sea also works with other developers: General Growth Properties, Inc., Westfield Group and CBL & Associates Properties, Inc. to name a few. “We have a good relationship with all the big guys, but the major exclusivity agreement is with the Simon Group (which included the Mills),” says Sabag.
Relationships are important at Deep Sea, not only with developers, but with every fellow employee, both out in the field and in the corporate office. Sabag supports his corporate staff as strongly as he supports his retailers, emphasizing he has not climbed the specialty retail corporate ladder on his own. Their success is his success, he says.
But perhaps the best part of joining the Deep Sea team is its longevity in the specialty retail world. Retailers can take a bite out of something they can hold onto. Women have been using and replenishing Deep Sea cosmetics for years. And new customers desiring natural products continue to come forward, especially in search of ways to retain a youthful appearance. With Deep Sea cosmetics, beauty is not only skin deep—it’s quite profitable.
Success with Strong Staff
Deep Sea Cosmetics has locations in top malls across the United States and continues to grow with the help and dedication of its vice president, Tziyona Cohen. Cohen was introduced to Deep Sea Cosmetics as a customer, joined as an employee and worked her way up through hard work, focus and devotion.
Cohen, who has been vice president since 2007, manages all customer needs. She helps in matching customers to the right lease agreement and retail location. By placing customers in the best retail locations, Deep Sea Cosmetics contributes to the stability of the Dead Sea cosmetics concept.
Cohen believes in Deep Sea Cosmetics, and can see the potential of the company, which continues to grow above and beyond expectations. These accomplishments would not have been possible without the customer satisfaction that Deep Sea Cosmetics provides to their clientele, Cohen says. Each individual leaseholder gets the full personal attention necessary and is always given the feeling that they are part of the Deep Sea family. This is one aspect that definitely makes Deep Sea Cosmetics stand out from the rest, Cohen adds.
The Deep Sea Family
Assembly Warehouse Manager
“I joined the Deep Sea Cosmetics’ family/team with 7 years warehouse experience. My daily tasks include supervising the assembly warehouse staff and setting up stations for work,” says Amsalem. Other duties include quality control, correspondence between warehouses and the corporate office, receiving overseas merchandise and distributing merchandise between warehouses.
“I joined Deep Sea Cosmetics with five years experience of customer service, public relations and administration work. In my daily duties, I process all incoming retail and
wholesale purchase orders and ship accordingly,” says Ben-David.
Chiperling’s responsibilities include overseeing all daily operations, the import and export department, purchases and vendor relations, as well as supervising all aspects of the office staff. “Ruth’s upbeat and enthusiastic energy is contagious to all who surround her,” says Sabag.
Director of Accounting
“I joined DSC with 12 years experience in office administration. My daily tasks include accounts payables and accounts receivables, payroll and daily correspondence with leasing managers and our operators,” says Cohen.
Trainer & Sales Executive
Danino hopes to further company growth by “perfecting product training and marketing skills among Deep Sea Cosmetics operators through the training program I am in charge of,” she says. She brings her strong sales experience to reach this goal.
Director of Shipping & Ordering
Maloul comes to Deep Sea with a background in cart management and is in charge of the shipping department, working with all carriers, such as FedEx and UPS.
“I have 25 years of warehouse management experience. My duties here at Deep Sea Cosmetics include receiving incoming merchandise on a daily basis and coordinating merchandise between our warehouses. I oversee warehouse daily functions, inventory control and warehouse maintenance,” Pacheco says.
Director of Sales & Marketing
Sharabi came to the Deep Sea corporate office with experience managing and owning Dead Sea carts. “I am part of the bid process and negotiations. Currently, my main goal is to assure that all available carts are occupied and running smoothly for both the malls and my operators,” she says.