Posts tagged with "Merilee Kern"

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The Business Comeback After COVID-19

Business Turnaround Expert Cites Keys to a COVID-19 Comeback

By Merilee Kern, MBA ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

The September 11th attacks. The Great Recession. The COVID-19 pandemic.

All three of these seismic and tragic events have resulted in heartbreak to humanity, including loss of life and our emotional well-being – both individually and collectively. Of course, accompanying these global crises were monetary meltdowns reminiscent of the Great Depression that commenced in 1929 and lingered until the late 1930s.

After a “relatively” calm 70 years, the United States economy has suffered three devastating developments inside the last two decades, alone. There have been wars fought throughout the world and inflation escalations along the way, to be sure, but the start to the 21st century has suffered escalating and unusually concentrated economic calamities – some that have profoundly altered the very fabric of our lives, both personally and professionally.

Indeed, on the business front, such periods have been among the most – perhaps the unequivocal most – trying of times. Amid current circumstances as the coronavirus rages on around the globe, I recently connected with internationally-renowned business restructuring executive James “Jim” Martin, founder of ACM Capital Partners with offices in Charlotte, Denver and Miami. Having spent the last three decades leading international middle-market companies through periods of distress and transition to actualize stability and growth, Martin is uniquely well-positioned to share insights on how business can rally to best assure a “COVID comeback.” Here’s what he had to say.

MK: First, before addressing the current coronavirus situation, what can you tell us about how you’ve helped companies navigate previous “rough waters?”

JM: Relative to the September 11th attacks back in 2001, I’ll share a representative example of a strategic pivot that didn’t just help a company survive, but actually drove profit. After that horrendous event, I stepped in to assist a large aviation maintenance repair-and-overhaul facility whose revenue had been cut fully in half immediately following the attacks – the result of many carriers permanently parking older aircraft (including the 727 fleet). The sizable challenge presented was to maintain a 1000-person labor force while allowing the industry the necessary time to recover. To do so, we created a captive subcontracting company to which we transferred one-third of our labor force. During our troughs, we contracted this labor to our competitors and, during peak periods, we utilized this labor for ourselves. Thus, not only were we able to retain our skilled, well-oriented labor force during the recovery, but that very staff actually provided additional, supplemental profit. The end result was that we sold the business for $138 million, which provided our new investors with a 33 percent internal rate of return (IRR).

Less than a decade after 9/11, amid The Great Recession in 2008, I entered another industry that proved to be among the most brutalized by a global economic downturn: automotive supply. My client was a key supplier to the “Big 3” U.S. auto manufacturers.

At the start of 2008, the industry forecast was the production of 18 million vehicles in North America. Come summer, however, it was clear the automakers would not come near reaching that forecast due to the financial crisis. This did not come as a complete surprise to us, though, because – amid our firm’s protocols – we had had already fully immersed ourselves in our client’s industry and employed forecasting tools alerting us of trends … this one in the wrong direction. So, we were privy to the situation well before management and others within the industry. By late June 2008, we instituted cost-cutting maneuvers and furloughs that enabled the company to withstand the industry’s brutal second half of ’08 that would result in two of the “Big 3” automakers filing for Chapter 11. Despite the industry producing less than half – as much as eight million – of its original vehicle-production forecast, our client not only survived, but ultimately grew and prospered.

MK: Turning attentions to COVID-19, what do you feel is integral for businesses to survive and recover?

JM: For businesses to recover from the coronavirus shutdown, it’s going to take a two-pronged approach: both financial and human capital. Starting with the financial, it will be a “loan-ly” world for those not well-versed in the intricacies of SBA, PPP and other “economic disaster” lending. Consider how expeditiously those programs were rolled out. Then consider how even more quickly they were scooped up. Did anyone really read those loan documents in full, or even halfway through, initially – or even to this day?

My guess is at least half of the companies receiving COVID-related loans took a very “CliffsNotes” approach to these agreements. The result is there’s a solid chance funds were used incorrectly, which is going to make a lot of the loans, shall we say, less “forgivable.” For example, if your company’s payroll roster is shorter today than it was pre-virus, the portion of the loans forgiven is likely to be less.

And while your mind may rush to claiming ignorance and throwing yourself upon the mercy of the government to which you already pay taxes, realize that third-party capital is likely to participate in this market through securitization. This means that thousands of SBA loans could be bought, then packaged to be sold to the secondary market, at a discounted rate, no less. If this happens, understand that the purchasers will have the full intention of holding their borrowers (i.e. small business owners) to paying back 100 cents on the dollar.

So, those companies who received loans and are required, but unable, to pay them back in full may be exposed to either foreclosure or, worse, a “loan to own” scenario. In other words, much like the agreement that comes with your big-tech user agreements, like those prompting users to “click agree,” the fine print matters.

What this means to recovery is that, once again, cash is king: gather it, preserve it, cease lines of credit, liquidate what you can, negotiate costs down with suppliers. If you’re struggling to pay you suppliers, you can look into purchase order financing options in order to improve your cash flow. And if your company had a healthy bottom line pre-COVID, than a professional familiar with these trenches can help you look to refinance or bring in equity.

With all of that said, the key to a COVID-19 recovery is going to be adhering to the rules of a lender’s road, as well as the ability to navigate the red tape when you veer off that road. If you have read all the fine print and properly managed your loan, congratulations! You’ve acquired some really cheap capital. For those who didn’t do their research, however, this road to recovery likely will need some paving.

MK: What about the human capital you mentioned?

JM: Yes, and then we arrive at the human capital. Lots of companies today are excessively top-heavy. Remember the part about removing emotions from this process? Companies that quickly recognize cuts need to be made will be better positioned to recover than those who dawdle. Again, compiling and preserving cash is going to best position a business for recovery.

This is an instance where it’s especially beneficial to know when to pull triggers (best if earlier than others) and to make decisions that are not based on emotions—a tall order for many CEOs, which is why many turn to turnaround experts. However it’s undertaken, what’s certain is that reducing human capital is painful, but it is also often necessary and almost always beneficial.

The upside is that, when the virus no longer exits, businesses can already be well-positioned for a fairly quick recovery. Maybe not v-shaped sans a vaccine, but quick relatively speaking due to the downturn having been so specific to one singular causing factor.

MK: Tell us a bit about your role as – and general value of – a turnaround expert when turmoil strikes a business.

JM: During times of difficulty, owners and executives can greatly benefit from specialized knowledge that’ll help them best navigate those unchartered waters that are often entangled in a lot of red tape. So, turnaround experts bring to the table a litany of tried-and-true “been there, weathered that” experience and expertise. There’s simply no substitute for engaging with a partner whose entire mandate is ensuring your company’s survival and success during some of the most grim and challenging times it might experience – those professionals who are willing to spend sleepless nights figuring out how to ensure the company meets payroll; who’ll work around the clock to keep the company’s doors open; and who can tackle challenges without being hindered by emotions that understandably weigh on a business owner or manager. It takes this kind of specialized expertise, experience and grit to lead companies through periods of distress and transition, to stability and growth.

No stranger to corporate chaos, during Martin’s own three decades as a globally-regarded turnaround expert, he has reportedly created and restored nearly $1.5 billion in value to lower middle-market companies; raised an additional $1 billion in capital; and managed mergers and acquisitions in excess of $500 million – all collectively representing his company restructuring portfolio valuation in excess of $3 billion.

Today, as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc on business operations far and wide, take heed that there are various key strategic and creative tactics that can help businesses not only weather the storm, but even emerge stronger and more financially secure on the other side.

About Merilee Kern:

Forbes Business Council Member Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand analyst, strategist and futurist who reports on noteworthy industry change makers, movers, shakers and innovators across all categories, both B2C and B2B. This includes field experts and thought leaders, brands, products, services, destinations and events. Merilee is Founder, Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List” as well as Host of the nationally-syndicated “Savvy Living” TV show. As a prolific consumer and business trends, lifestyle and leisure industry voice of authority and tastemaker, she keeps her finger on the pulse of the marketplace in search of new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points, from the affordable to the extreme. Her work reaches multi-millions worldwide via broadcast TV (her own shows and copious others on which she appears) as well as a myriad of print and online publications. You can connect with Merilee at www.TheLuxeList.com and www.SavvyLiving.tv

Follow Merilee Kern:  Instagram | Twitter | Facebook | LinkedIN

Mina Tocalini, 360 magazine

Back-to-College Tips

6 Ways to Make Back-to-College Better

By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

It’s about that time for our co-eds to head toward, or back to, university life—whether that be an on-campus dorm or off-campus dwelling. Whichever the case, here are a few lifestyle-enhancing and productivity-boosting finds that can make this upcoming year an A+.

Embroidered Collegiate Pillows

Here’s a wonderful way to get those bright eyed students excited for back to college—whether that’s campus life or taking the fall semester online: embroidered Collegiate Pillows available at catstudio. Working alongside each university, catstudio has created some fabulous, officially licensed hand-drawn artwork celebrating college life and the essence of each college. Their original, licensed art embodies the spirit and uniqueness of each school—the architecture, education, sports, history and traditions. Created on tea-colored background, the 16 x 20-inch pillow is accented with black piping, and finished with a zipper closure. Plus, you can make this already great gift ever even more ideal by personalizing it. Just consult with your local monogram shop and easily add to the back—initials, graduation class, personal note, logo and more. Beyond these spirited and decidedly decorative pillows, catstudio’s collegiate collection also includes zipper pouches, dish towels, glasses, thermal bottles and fine art prints that any co-ed is sure to adore The company’s collegiate gift line is personal, thoughtful and meaningful. What’s also admirable about this company is that a percentage of each purchase is donated back to each respective school, serving to fund scholarships, student activities or recreational programs.

Blue Light Glasses

The human eyes are not designed to be exposed to blue light emitted by computer screens, phones and television constantly. This strong blue light causes eye fatigue, dry eyes, blurred vision and headaches, which are all symptoms of digital eye strain also known as Computer Vision Syndrome. Beyond damaging the eyes, exposure to blue light at night disrupts the circadian rhythm that regulates the release of melatonin, preventing rest and degrading sleep quality. One great way to safeguard your student’s eyes while simultaneously sporting stylish frames from Pixel Eyewear. This company provides breakthrough lens technology that filters at least 50 percent of blue light and up to 95 percent at the strongest wavelengths, without the yellow tint. They provide a clear, surgical protection that allows wearers to focus on their work instead of ensuing migraines. The lenses of the eyewear also have a super-hydrophobic outer layer, which is a nanotechnology that reduces smudges and repels water and dust. This means no more constantly taking the glasses off for cleaning and wiping. The premium anti-reflective coating eliminates computer glare and reduces stress on your eyes all the while. It’s time to experience the world in High-Def. Each model is designed, engineered and built with comfort in mind. The full lens features, among those already mentioned, include glare elimination; UV light blockage; scratch, fingerprint and smudge resistance; water, liquid, dust and particle repellence; and a reduction of color and image distortion.

Wireless Charging Stand

STM Goods, a leading designer of innovative bags, cases and related products for consumer electronic devices, recently announced the latest addition to the company’s growing line of power and cable accessories. Their new ChargeTree wireless charging stand can power up to three different items: an iPhone or other wireless ready smartphone, AirPods/AirPods Pro, and Apple Watch—all simultaneously on one slim stand. It’s a handy, small footprint solution for eliminating wires and the need to use separate charging units to repower these devices individually. The ChargeTree is Qi certified to work with Qi-enabled devices and also plugs into the power source with a USB-A to USB-C cable (a one-meter cable is included). ChargeTree is also compatible with AirPods in a wireless charging case and will function with most phone cases (non-metal) up to 5mm thick. Slim and sleek, the ChargeTree leaves a small footprint that takes up minimal space on a desk or nightstand. If you’re like me, multi-tasking is a way life, so this multi-device charger will help ensure your go-to tech is fully juiced when you need it.

External Hard Drive

No matter the student’s major, rest assured there will be a need to access, store and transport digital data. Ensure they don’t run out of hard drive space with Western Digital’s G-DRIVE Mobile USB-C External Portable Drive that’s available in 1TB, 2TB, 4TB and 5TB capacities. With a plug-and-play USB-C-ready port (that’s USB 3.0 and Thunderbolt 3 compatible) and with speeds up to 140MB/s for super-fast file transfer and backup, this mobile hard drive offers portable storage in a stylish design to complement any computer. It actually includes both USB-C and USB-A cables to make it universally compatible. Its sleek and beautiful aluminum case provides sturdy, portable storage that’s designed to travel well. And with up to 5TB of storage on-the-go, you’re instantly ready to back up your favorite documents, presentations, videos, photos, music and more, wherever you go. It ships Mac ready, but is easily reformatted for Windows. Plus there’s a 3-Year limited warranty to ensure your student’s productivity will never be stifled.

Copper-Infused Dual Filter Face Mask

Copper Compression, a designer, manufacturer and provider of a wide range of copper-infused recovery wearables and self-care solutions, now boasts anti-bacterial, reusable and washable copper ion-infused face masks. Copper is broadly recognized for its natural ability to destroy bacteria and the mask’s dual filter is among the highest protection available today. The non-medical mask, reportedly embraced by doctors, nurses and emergency medical technicians, has also reportedly been favored among fitness, fashion, and foodie elites. The mask features a four-layer structure with a protective copper-infused cotton outer layer. Its middle layers include a high-efficiency bacterial filter and supportive lining creating dual filters, which blocks fine particulate matter over a five-year period. The interior of the mask is made with a soft, 100 percent cotton-lining and provides extra space for ventilation and moisture absorption, making it extremely comfortable for extended wear. The copper protection infused within each fiber maintains its hygienic potency throughout the lifespan of the product and never washes out. Each mask comes with a certificate of conformity, ensuring its standards meet the consumer product and safety commission.

The company’s other helpful copper-infused products that’ll help keep students feeling their best by lessening slumping and realizing better posture. This includes their unisex Full Posture Corrector with Support Bars, which provides comfortable specifically designed to reduce pressure on joints, discs and muscles, while providing the necessary protection. Their Slim Back Brace with Extra Support Bars is also helpful. This non-intrusive design effectively engages your core and lower back muscles, giving you back pain relief without feeling cumbersome. Steady pressure from the brace also stabilizes your lower back muscles, giving you better balance and improved posture.

Allergen Vacuum

Help your college-bound kiddo feel well and stay focused by avoiding those annoying allergies that can infiltrate their dorm or apartment. One highly effective tech solution is RAYCOP, which has advanced its allergen vacuum technology with its new, hand-held RS Pro model. Mattresses, pillows, blankets, upholstered desk chairs and other cloth furniture are the perfect home for allergens like dust mites and pollen. The RS Pro is the reported to be the only allergen vacuum that eliminates 99.99% of these and other allergy-causing irritants. In fact, the RAYCOP RS Pro emits heat of up to 158° Fahrenheit—a temperature that instantly kills dust mites and eliminates pollen—plus it uses the same UVC light that hospitals use to combat bacteria and viruses. Safety measures built into this and other RAYCOP products ensure the UVC sanitizing light and heat can be safely used in a residence. For even more efficacy, the vacuum also includes HEPA filtration and air redirect suction technology to protect fabrics while reducing allergens. The RS Pro is the latest in Raycop’s line of handheld vacuums. With advanced RayClean technology, this model combines a multitude of features–heat, UVC sanitizing light, HEPA filtration and our Air Redirect Suction Technology—to kill dust mites and pollen completely. This can lead to less dependence on medication and a more comfortable, clean environment.

About Merilee Kern:

Forbes Business Council Member Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand analyst, strategist and futurist who reports on noteworthy industry change makers, movers, shakers and innovators across all categories, both B2C and B2B. This includes field experts and thought leaders, brands, products, services, destinations and events. Merilee is Founder, Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List” as well as Host of the nationally-syndicated “Savvy Living” TV show. As a prolific consumer and business trends, lifestyle and leisure industry voice of authority and tastemaker, she keeps her finger on the pulse of the marketplace in search of new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points, from the affordable to the extreme. Her work reaches multi-millions worldwide via broadcast TV (her own shows and copious others on which she appears) as well as a myriad of print and online publications. You can connect with Merilee at www.TheLuxeList.com and www.SavvyLiving.tv

Follow Merilee Kern:  InstagramTwitter | Facebook | LinkedIN

Mina Tocalini, 360 magazine

Post-Pandemic Salon Tips

Post-Pandemic Salon Safety Tips from Celebrity Hair Colorist Michael Canalé

By Merilee Kern, ‘The Luxe List’ Executive Editor

With throngs of beauty-minded folks endeavoring to “see and be seen” post-quarantine after a long and arduous lockdown, it’s time to get back on board with beauty routines—and this certainly includes our hair coloring exploits. As salons across the nation reopen, many are wondering how we can prepare for the new normal—one that ensures our health and safety in the pursuit of envy-worthy hair.

For these answers and more I turned to Michael Canalé, known to be Hollywood’s most sought-after colorist and co-creator of “The Rachel.” He’s reportedly revitalized actress Jennifer Aniston’s enviable hair for over a decade and is also credited to other A-list locks adorning the likes of Heidi Klum, Kate Hudson, Shakira, Penelope Cruz and Carolyn Murphy.

In fact, for over 30 years, Canalé has been called upon by celebs, models and industry elites. His innovative technique and keen eye has made him highly regarded, not only for his corrective color method, but also for focusing on the natural beauty of hair. He makes sure to protect and prevent damage, leaving clients with hair that is as healthy as it is gorgeous. This is also why his work has been published in Allure, Vogue, Vanity Fair, Women’s Health, Elle, Marie Claire, Redbook, Glamour and New Beauty, just to name a few.

Canalé shared this advice on how stylists and colorists can best keep clients safe, while accommodating the escalating demand for post-pandemic hair services. He also added some trend tips as well as how to get the best color and longevity out of your service. A true pioneer of his craft, Canalé is a rare and enduring talent whose efforts will benefit untold beauty-seekers in the era ahead.

Merilee Kern: How can patrons stay safe while visiting a beauty salon?

Michael Canalé: Stay home if you do not feel well or feel sick. Come alone; leave pets and kids at home to avoid overcrowding in the salon. Come to the salon with a mask and help do your part to keep everyone around you safe. Be prepared to have your temperature taken and sign a form regarding where you have been and if you’ve been traveling.

MK: What advice do you have for salon owners, stylists and colorists on re-opening—safeguards that precaution-savvy consumers can also be mindful of?

MC: My advice would be to remember their training in school. Our training and licensing is based on 1,600 hours of learning how to properly sanitize and maintain a safe, clean and sterile environment for our clients. Additionally, I would say to fully set up all safety measures such as the sneeze guards, partitions (if needed), sanitizing tools at every station and extra masks for clients before officially reopening your salon. I knew this was going to be the new normal, and so my salons prepared early and the transition has been more seamless. Our salon input a red carpet velvet rope to stop clients from entering the salon before having their temperature taken, along with forms to fill out regarding their whereabouts and standard questions.

MK: OK, let’s talk hair! How can customers get the best color from their stylist?

MC: Bring in pictures and really discuss what you want with your colorist, along with listening and trusting them in what they think is achievable and best for your hair. I look at their eye color, face shape and skin undertones to accentuate their overall look. My assistants love that I say you cannot have a good haircut with bad hair color.

MK: Is there a secret for achieving the best color for your complexion?

MC: Your skin undertones and eye color really do play a part in what color looks best on you. Face shape and personal style also play a role in what you feel comfortable with.

MK: What are a few of the biggest hair color trends of the moment?

MC: I’ve seen a lot more women going back to their natural color or color that is easier for them to maintain. Because of COVID-19, we don’t know when or how long we will be able to keep seeing our hairdressers, so to have hair color that requires less maintenance is best. I have always stuck to the more natural hair color and highlight to accentuate your facial features. Using my products really allows your hair to maintain the best color, while it’s being protected.

MK: What are some highlighting or other techniques to prolong time between visits?

MC: I do not send any clients bleach. My salon has been great at making At-Home Color Kits for our base clients and for our highlight clients they have been receiving one of my signature glosses, along with their choice of conditioner. Both new and old clients have been sending in pictures so I can determine what kit to make and send them.

My highlight clients that have been comfortable returning to the salon after our reopen have had the prettiest grow out of hair color. Although they aren’t so blonde anymore, they still look great.

MK: What’s new and exciting with you … do you have any current projects or initiatives?

MC: Currently I have been working on my signature Canalé Gloss Collection. These are the first three of six. Each contains a UV sunblock along with our Canalé Cleanse and Soften that help maintain hair color and focuses on the skin undertones. Come mid-August, I am launching a deeper blue, called Midnight blue. It will cool out warm brunettes, while removing yellow and warm tones in blondes. Along with Cool Blue, these glosses were developed for clients with cool undertones. My Sunkissed Gloss will work with gold undertone and bring over-bleached and over processed hair back to life. It also works with golden tones such as baby blondes, strawberry blondes and golden-brown red heads.

Additionally, I have two hair oils coming out in August, these are going to be great additives for the Canalé conditioners; Soften and Soften Plus. Once added to the conditioners, it can work great as a detangler, hair mask and even styling aid. My clients and their hair love it.

MK: Maintaining color between visits is a gold standard. Do any of your own products help facilitate this?

MC: Yes, the Canalé Cleanse elongates hair color allowing you to go more days without washing. Along with my glosses, they last 20 shampoos and seal in hair color while giving your hair the shine to accentuate your undertones. The Cleanse and Soften items have been tested and proven to reduce fading and oxidation

MK: I see you also offer dietary supplements—do these support hair health and growth?

MC: Yes, and my product line is really about maintaining healthy hair. I have three hair vitamins; a topical called Nourish and two ingestible vitamins; Replenish and Replenish Boost. These products help hair growth both inside and out. I have seen Nourish bring in new hair growth around the client’s hairline while the Replenish vitamins thicken and help your hair grow.

MK: Where can folks access your salons and your products?

MC: Continue to stay safe and do your part to decrease the spread of this virus. We look forward to having you all back in our salon, feeling like yourself again. I have nine locations, which are in Newport Beach, Orange County, San Francisco, Beverly Hills, Pacific Palisades, West Hollywood, Dallas, Chicago, New York and Washington DC. Additionally, my products are available on Amazon and on our website.

About Merilee Kern:

Forbes Business Council Member Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand analyst, strategist and futurist who reports on noteworthy industry change makers, movers, shakers and innovators across all categories, both B2C and B2B. This includes field experts and thought leaders, brands, products, services, destinations and events. Merilee is Founder, Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List” as well as Host of the nationally-syndicated “Savvy Living” TV show. As a prolific consumer and business trends, lifestyle and leisure industry voice of authority and tastemaker, she keeps her finger on the pulse of the marketplace in search of new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points, from the affordable to the extreme. Her work reaches multi-millions worldwide via broadcast TV (her own shows and copious others on which she appears) as well as a myriad of print and online publications. You can connect with Merilee at www.TheLuxeList.com and www.SavvyLiving.tv

Follow Merilee Kern:  InstagramTwitter | Facebook | LinkedIN