How does a company with a hot product manage to stay hot? It takes more than luck. Case in point: EPI Products Inc., a Santa Monica, Calif., company founded in 1987 by three South African-born sisters who had acquired the U.S. distribution rights to Epilady, a women's hair-removal device from Israel. Within six months of introducing Epilady into such high-end department stores as Bloomingdale's and Marshall Field, the Krok sisters knew they had one of the hottest products to hit the U.S. personal-care market in years.
But they also faced a challenge. Remington Products Inc. was coming out with a similar product that could shut Epilady out of the mass market. EPI Products had to figure out how to get it into mass-market outlets without alienating its upscale base. The solution: introduce a deluxe model, packaged with accessories, into the high-end stores at a premium price. After six months the company would then introduce the original Epilady, sharply discounted, into mass-market stores.
"Some of the [high-end] department stores were a little upset at first," concedes vice-president Sharon Krok-Feuer, but the new unit sold well enough last Christmas to alleviate their concerns. Besides, president Arlene Krok notes, EPI Products soon brought out new products that are "making a hell of a lot of money for the department stores." The Krok sisters' company isn't doing so badly either. Sales hit $100 million in 1988 -- and could climb to $300 million in 1989.
-- Leslie Brokaw