Veteran hairstylist and product developer Nelson Ameer sealed the deal in just the last two weeks. His conditioner is now available on Amazon.
And that, if it even has to be said, is big.
Beauty products is the hardest Amazon category for sellers to get on, Ameer said. That is because the beauty business is so brisk on the mammoth online retail platform.
It has been two years in the making since Ameer took another turn in his career and launched his newest product, a leave-in conditioner called 808 Randolph, named after the first salon he opened in the then-less-than-salubrious West Loop in the late '90s.
"That's the part where people say you are crazy," said Ameer, referring not only to attempting to launch a new brand in a crowded market but also the opening of a high-end salon in the West Loop long before it was up and coming.
Those two years were spent perfecting the product and selling it on his own website. It was a different route than going through salons, Ameer told Illinois Business Daily.
Then, after much care and consideration, it was time to go through the process of getting it on the Amazon platform. It took months and months, said Ameer, who began his career as a hairstylist nearly three decades ago.
"It opens up a lot of opportunities, but there is a lot of process that goes with that, being part of Amazon," Ameer said, adding that he is now a preferred purchaser featured on Amazon Prime.
It is a perfect example of the new game in business and Ameer sees huge advantages for smaller operators. A Chicago factory with 40 to 50 employees, for example, produces his products along with others featured on Amazon.
For Ameer, this is another turn in a career that began at the Trio Salon, once one of the top in the city and where he was mentored by others who Vidal Sassoon trained.
"They really mentored me in the business, not just practical skills but also how to interact with people to grow the business," Ameer remembers.
The job included styling top models for photo shoots, the catwalk and catalogs.
After striking out on his own, Ameer first opened on Randolph, then in Forest Park. Each salon did $1 million in business each year despite, at the time, their less-than-prime locations.
He sold the businesses several years ago to start, with others, their own product line. They ended up with $20 million in revenue annually, said Ameer, who later sold his share in the business. He also worked as an educator.
Now comes the latest turn, and Ameer has plans to expand, with three more products in the pipeline.
And he has advice for others: "Everyone should learn how things are made, how difficult it is, because then they will better appreciate what they buy," he said.