Steve and Joniann Marchese
CEO and President of LightStim

 

Meet them live at Cosmoprof North America: July 13th to the 15th , 2014.

1. How did you get involved in the beauty industry?

There comes a time in a woman’s life when she is suddenly confronted with the unwanted signs of aging. I myself experienced this firsthand as I rose each morning to the dreadful task of putting on my make-up in my, yes, 5x magnifying mirror. There’s a reason why we start to lose our close up vision in our 40s. Starting my day with “look there’s another wrinkle,” “my skin is starting to droop,” “darn there’s another crease under my eye,” and then the inevitable holding my skin tight and stretching it back to see what unappreciated youth once looked like is not what I’d call positive, but typical of us females. Like a torrential downpour, I shared my morning routine of critical, self-deprecating, negative thoughts to my very dear friend who said, “Listen, you’ve got to try this LED light.” Desperate, I wasted no time and started using it daily. After a few short weeks I suddenly realized while performing my morning ritual that those critical, self-deprecating, negative thoughts were gone, gone, gone and replaced with, “Wow my skin is looking better! It’s fuller and plumper, and the lines under my eyes are softer and starting to diminish. This actually works!”
Between entrepreneurial businesses and realizing we were both quintessential baby boomers in the throes of middle age,
yet possessing the drive and energy of 30 year olds, Steve and I immediately acquired the business from the extremely
brilliant inventors. Coming from an automotive background and franchising the first auto detailing business across the
country some years prior, nothing prepared us for our entry into the beauty industry aside from an unalloyed passion for
a device that not only worked and delivered proven, lasting results, but also brought an unforeseen confidence to women
and men that surpassed skin care alone. This was our driving force, the life force behind our brand, unadulterated passion
for the product and the desire to make it available to every woman and man. Vanity is my best friend I’m proud to say it!

2. What have you learned about the Beauty industry so far?

The beauty industry is exciting, educational and intoxicating with its potpourri of lotions and potions and assurances of
capturing and maintaining that coveted youth. I willingly admit on a personal level that’s right up my alley. The average
consumer, as Steve and I once were, may not realize that the beauty industry is controlled by a handful of corporations
that stretch around the globe and is divided into several categories, with skincare being the largest. The US is the biggest cosmetics market of all and the emergence of more and more online companies continue to fuel that growth. Protected
somewhat from economic strife, we have learned the beauty industry is a “safe bet” as exemplified by the statistics in
the Lipstick Index, a term coined by Leonard Lauder, Chairman of Estée Lauder. As 2001 ended the US’s longest term of
economic expansion, Lauder saw an 11% increase in lipstick sales, much like the 25% increase in cosmetic sales back in
the Depression. If the other almost 79 million baby boomers are as youth-seeking and proud to be vain as I am, then the
beauty industry is definitely the right choice for long term brand growth and expansion.
3. What are some of the innovative ways you’ve connected with consumers?

Our proudest accomplishment is the connection we have with our consumers through personalized customer service and
mobile/web innovations. We actually have live customer service representatives answer our phones and our consumers
are thrilled about this. Each customer is directed to the appropriate customer service representative – from licensed
estheticians knowledgeable in all areas of skincare who advise on how to achieve the best results possible, to technical
experts who can troubleshoot any and all operative issues. On the mobile front we are especially excited to bring to
our consumers a mobile app experience unseen in our category, bringing an instant connection to LightStim. Free to
download on Apple and Android compatible devices, consumers can track treatment time, get tips, product guides and even customer support. Our recently launched new website encompasses an extraordinary contemporary design with succinctly stated product features and images paralleling today’s consumer shopping practices. It’s gratifying to know our customers can easily reach out to us with just a simple phone call, a touch on the LightStim app, or an instant chat from our website – all while relaxing in the privacy of their own homes while enhancing collagen and elastin production, fighting Acne or healing pain.

4. What are your key takeways from entering the beauty retail world?

Entering the beauty retail world is a daunting task especially for a self-funded, entrepreneurial, family run business where
you are up against the ever so ubiquitous major players, or what I like to call the big guys i.e. L’Oreal, Proctor & Gamble,
Estee Lauder, Shiseido, Johnson & Johnson. Not to mention being part of a new category; “devices” which requires an
educational evolution one must be willing to go through, hence QVC. If you’re lucky enough to get your brand on QVC you
will find the longed for opportunity to disseminate the virtues of your product with live demonstrations in over 100 million
homes. QVC is our largest distribution platform to date and although presumably challenging at times, a fabulous partner.

Personally I never shopped on QVC prior to our product launching in late 2010, as I assumed QVC was for my 80-year-
old mother-in-law to purchase her polyester pants and off brand beauty products eliciting reprimands from my father-in-
law as daily packages arrived. Okay, okay I was admittedly wrong and now have the QVC mobile app with “Speed Buy”
set up and it takes me approximately 2 seconds to buy and now I have packages coming weekly and Steve saying really?
again?!! Going through the legal process at QVC forced me to not only look at QVC in an entirely new light, but to give
sincere thanks and respect to founder, Joseph Segel for being true to the acronym many either don’t know what it means,
or take for granite, “Quality”, “Value” & “Convenience”.
The QVC platform translate over into the retail world as every time there is a LightStim show on QVC, retail sales increase
shhhh.. don’t tell QVC! The challenge in the retail store arena is that devices are NEW and there are many unknowns
on how to market them; the retailers are not set up physically to display them, they’re scattered in random places on
the floor, they do not provide specific “device” trained sales associates, their sales staff are not educated enough on
each and every device to assure the consumer of the correct purchase and last but not least, many require the brand
itself to provide full time sales associates which isn’t always a viable option. I’ve only seen what I consider to be the
perfect paradigm to sell beauty devices in Harrods London implemented by the brain child of Beauty Apothecary, Vesa
Kahlo. There are three 6’ long displays set up with every high-end device on the market and they provide electricity for
those devices so one can touch, feel, and actually try using the device. There are 2 full time Harrods sales associates
thoroughly trained by each brand allowing them to intelligently refer each consumer to the correct device for their individual needs. How brilliant is this! I’m hinting here US retailers.

5. You are a vetted brand spokesperson on QVC; can you share a few pointers?

First of all I swore I would never be an on-air guest at QVC as I am just too shy, have absolutely no media experience (I’m
a mom and a business owner), I could not fathom speaking live in front of 100 millions homes and to top it off, I did a little
research and discovered I wasn’t alone, as public speaking is the #1 fear in the US. Needless to say when Steve took
over the on-air shows for LightStim for Pain, it left little inexperienced me to confront my #1 fear as we needed a guest for our LightStim for Wrinkles. My first on-air experience at QVC was on Friday Night Beauty with the renowned Lisa
Robertson. Just being in her space is daunting, not only is she drop dead gorgeous, she’s an icon at QVC and when she
walks into a room her presence is so undeniably tangible it completely fills up that room in an amazing way. Great… I
wasn’t intimidated at all! I wore my cutest Nicole Miller dress and Cole Haan pumps (this always makes me feel cuter
much more confident!) and QVC’s amazing Beauty Salon covered up that lovely stressed induced breakout on my chin! I
was nervous, my heart was pounding and I was afraid I would forget what to say. I had called an old friend of mine, and a
seasoned acting coach to get some advice before I went on air. I hadn’t spoken to him in a number of years and he asked
me all about our business and our product. I went on and on excitedly telling him everything when suddenly he cut me off
and said, “That’s it! I’m sorry I had to trick you a bit but if you talk with that much passion, if you talk with that much
sincerity and if you connect with your host and the people at home like you just did with me you’ll be fine, as it’s evident it
comes from the heart”. I had an epiphany at that moment in time that if I took his advise to heart all would be fine.
Needless to say it went off without a hitch, not to say when watching the video I didn’t wonder why I was sort of bouncing
up and down while Lisa was talking, obviously a nervous twitch I had better work on! Bottom line… if I can do it anyone out there can.

I’ve now been on QVC US for almost 2 years, we launched on QVC UK in October of last year and just launched on QVC Italy. The connection with the hosts, the connection with the consumers, the immediate feedback through sales and the passion and sincerity are what fuel me. It is a formidable commitment and one has to have the strength and tenacity to hang in there. “You’re only as good as your last show” rings true and as the owners of our brand, and as President & CEO Steve and I are challenged on a daily basis. But I could not fathom a life without such exciting opportunities and challenges.

LightStim is the category leader in LED light therapy, and is family owned and operated by husband and wife team Steve and Joniann Marchese, CEO and President respectively. All LightStim devices are designed, engineered and manufactured in the USA at their California facility to ensure quality and safety.  Joniann and Steve have been married and in business together for over 30 years. They live in Newport Beach, California and have two sons. Eldest son, Addison, is the Creative Director of LightStim and younger son, Chase, is the Vice President of Manufacturing.

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