Denis Simioni is best known around the world for the hair care brand he brought to the world, Ojon. However, this entrepreneur did not begin his business journey with this company. He is a former ad executive who used to run his own advertising and graphic design firm in Oakville, Ontario. His ad agency specialized in the the beauty industry.
However, he did not know that his own future will be shaped by a hair care product. In fact, he was not looking to launch a hair care brand when this magical oil literally fell into his laps.
His wife’s grandmother, from Honduras, used to visit them. She kept sending them a lot of natural remedies and skincare as well as hair care products. She had given them a jar full of goo like product that had been sitting on their bathroom shelf for a period of two years. In fact, at one time Denis Simioni had even thought of throwing it away. Fortunately, he did not.
One day his wife came out of the pool with very brittle and broken hair. Those brittle and broken hairs were the result of coloring and chemicals in the swimming pool. She called her grandmother to ask about the product that looked like peanut butter to them. Her grandmother told them that this peanut butter like substance was called Ojon oil and she purchased this jar from one of the native Indians in Hoduras.
Long story short, his wife tried that substance on her hair and what they discovered was incredible. Her hairs were shiny and looked great. She started using it continuously and they were amazed with the quality of her hair. The change was so incredible that Denis decided to track down the oil and decided to bring it to the Western world.
The couple had their vacation planned for Disneyland that year. To find out more about the oil, they changed their vacation to Honduras to find out more about these Indians and the oil. During his enquiries, he found out that the Indian tribe was from the Mosquitia rain forest area and a nonprofit group known as Mopawi worked with them. The tribe that extracted the Ojon oil is called Tawira. The amazing thing is that Tawira means “the people of beautiful hair”. He arranged to meet the tribe with the help of the nonprofit group.
Denis found the tribe and convinced them to sell that oil to him. However, his journey was not straight and he struggled for a few years to secure the intellectual property rights. Ojon oil is a form of palm oil. The tribe had been using this oil for many centuries but so far, they did not export it and used to sell it to locals only. The plant that provides the seeds to extract the oil only grows in that region.
It takes a large amount of the nuts to extract significant amount of oil. In fact, it takes over 8000 of these nuts to have just 3.5 cups of pure oil. His company formed a partnership with 895 tribal families of a around 15,000 people. The company not only pays them for the oil but also pays them a portion of the profits from the sale of these products made from Ojon oil. The company now has exclusive rights to distribute the Ojon oil globally.
He partnered with the Italian company, Origin Italian that specialized in working with organic ingredients. At that time this Italian manufacturer did not have any hair care products and Denis Simioni decided to partner with this company for manufacturing the hair care line of products under the Ojon brand.
Denis Simioni had so much confidence in the quality of the product that he self financed the start-up. In fact, he invested everything he had physically, financially and emotionally into the project. If it had not worked out for him, it would have been a big loss for him.
He had a friend in the shopping Channel, QVC and decided to pitch this product to the team. He met with the QVC team and told them his story. They were impressed with the story and the product was launched on the channel on 27 December 2004. Their product was extremely successful and they sold out their entire inventory and even had a wait list of over 3000 units. The success of this brand can be gauged from the fact that they launched their first one-hour show on the channel in December 2005 and they sold products worth $1.2 million in just 40 minutes.
However, Denis Simioni is not the only one who benefited from the enormous success of the Ojon brand.
The tribal families have also benefited a lot. Their earnings are now up by more than 300%. The children of the tribal people could not afford to go to school, as they needed to work on the farm and catch lobsters for survival. However, with this partnership, these villagers are now looking to build schools and hospitals on their lands. Overall, more than 1000 tribal have benefited from this partnership.
The global cosmetics giant, Estee Lauder came calling in the year 2007 when they were looking to expand their hair care product line. They bought the company for a reportedly $45 million and life has never been same for Denis Simioni.
Denis still travels extensively to search for more rare elixirs all across the world.