A conversation with the IBA President, Ken Marenus, Ph.D.
BBAM: Ken, please tell us what has prompted the important recent changes in your organization.
Ken Marenus: Thank you for inviting me to share with you our thoughts about the recent transformation of the Independent Cosmetic Manufacturers and Distributors (ICMAD) to the Independent Beauty Association (IBA).
We understand that our industry and its products now represent a broad spectrum of technical, legal, regulatory and business disciplines. In order to better describe how our Association supports all of these, we determined that it was time to update how we describe the wide range of benefits we provide to our members and the industry.
BBAM: Both names – ICMAD and IBA convey a strong commitment to independent beauty companies – does the name change reflect major changes in your organization’s mission or core values?
Ken Marenus: When ICMAD was formed almost 50 years ago, our industry was quite different. Our products were less sophisticated, and those who focused on marketing products would be amazed at the array of distribution channels available today. Our vision, mission and dedication at IBA (as was ICMAD) is still focused on four key principals: Education, Advocacy for Reasonable Legislation, Networking and Member Service. Every one of our programs, events and offerings is dedicated to support one or more of these principals.
BBAM: How did the pandemic affect your organization and your members?
Ken Marenus: In the past year, we have all been significantly challenged by the world-wide pandemic.
In some cases, it has caused significant personal hardship and even lives lost. In the business community it has accelerated changes and trends that were already underway and in other cases created a tremendous need for innovation, process change and flexibility.
Throughout this unprecedented challenge, IBA has been in step with our members to provide information, education and guidance. There have been over 30 webinars dedicated to specific topics that could help ease their path through. These range from business finance, formulation, HR aspects, government loan programs and even specific regulations of hand sanitizers.
When the scope of this difficulty became clear, we conducted surveys of our members to create the most accurate portrait of conditions possible. In March and April, it was clear that our members were beginning to experience a significant negative impact from the Virus. At one point only 30% of those surveyed had sufficient financing to last more than 90 days. By late June fortunately, things had improved as the industry adapted and created mechanisms to work around some of the most pressing difficulties. As we perhaps now enter a second wave of virus activity, we are going to set out a fourth survey to again, check the pulse of our members and our industry.
BBAM: What do you think is the a most pressing issue for our industry at this time?
Ken Marenus: In the mid 1970s, there were attempts to over-regulate our industry with unprecedented and disproportionally strict regulations proposed for cosmetics. If they had passed, tremendous regulatory burdens would have been placed on our products. In fact, one of ICMAD’s first major efforts was to represent and support the small businesses that would have been so badly damaged by these restrictive regulations.
Fast forward almost 50 years and we are in the same situation again. There is legislation proposed that will once again create a significant regulatory burden on the small businesses that compose most of our industry. Once again, IBA is at the forefront in challenging these so that proportional, reasonable and equitable proposals move forward.
BBAM: Thank you, Ken, for your insights on the current challenges in the beauty industry and for the tremendous support your organization is offering the independent beauty manufacturers.
Ken Marenus: I hope that this brief interview has explained who IBA is and what we do. We are here to support those in the SMEs that make up the bulk of our industry. These Companies are the source of discovery and innovation that keep us all vibrant and competitive. They need support and we are here for that. Please consider joining IBA! Look at our website:
www.independentbeauty.org so you can learn more about us.