Peter Mudahy is a revolutionary marketeer and popular figure within the Afro/European hair and beauty scene. With more than 30+ years’ experience in the industry having worked with the likes of L’Oréal, Revlon, World of Curls, Nexxus and Redken. Peter has been prominent in building both professional and consumer beauty brands. Trained in the USA during the 80’s, Peter Mudahy lifelong works have been instrumental predominantly within the multicultural, textured and Afro hair sector across the UK, USA and Africa including South Africa. Whereby Mr Mudahy was pivotal in the launch of Black Like Me into the market. In this exclusive interview, BUKZONE engaged Peter Mudahy on his attraction for and journey into the beauty industry. excerpts.
BUKZONE: How did you get into the beauty industry and what was the attraction?
Peter: Having spent most of my teen years working for Britain’s first black weekly newspaper West Indian World. I first became attracted to the industry through my older sister Vicki who at the time had a prominent marketing career in the US with Max Factor and Pro-line. With that being said she was one of the first people to bring black hair products from the US to Europe and Africa. Within the UK, the publication I worked at West Indian World was a great landing point for advertising for the various brands Vicki worked with.
I used to assist her with organising trade shows and promotional events, then West Indian World would advertise the products she sold. Then at 17, I was prompted by my family in the States to come and settle in LA and study. However, I decided to join my sister at the World of Curls, where she was the International Marketing Manager and from there. I have been in the haircare industry ever since.
BUKZONE: What is the inspiration behind this family-owned brand Pak?
Peter: The inspiration has come from the history of Pak. For many years Pak was associated with African and Caribbean consumers. In key urban areas like Birmingham and London being that initially they supplied grocery imports like Yam. But decided to introduce the Cosmetics part of the business in the 90’s. When they did so it immediately sold out and this would lead to them organically evolve into Pak Cosmetics.
BUKZONE: Tell us more about your brand’s USP, target audience and market?
Peter: Our USP has been sourcing specific niche hair and beauty products, popular among the African and Caribbean consumers. We understood our target audience and reacted quickly to sourcing the products they were interested in. So therefore, when our business started to evolve, we used our relationship and built trust between our consumers to fill a gap within the market for the types of products they saw as “essential”.
BUKZONE: As a leader in the Afro hair and beauty products industry and currently operating in Europe and Africa. Briefly share your experience and biggest success?
Peter: Our biggest success at the moment is the recognition of our Pak’s Brand not just here in the UK but across Europe, Middle East and Africa. We grew from being in one market to entering into several so for us that’s definitely our biggest success.
BUKZONE: What was the biggest “no” you heard in your career, and what did you learn from it?
Peter: Brilliant question. For many years I worked at Loreal and what I learned from that experience was to follow your intuition. A colleague of mine at the time who brought me on board to joint lead on luxury brand Redken once told me “No doesn’t mean no forever it just means no for now”. So, I learnt to be resilient and always come back to ask more questions. But to answer your question perhaps the biggest no that left a mark on me was when I applied for an executive role. With one of the Caribbean’s largest distribution businesses here in the UK following a call with the CEO at the time. They were looking for a replacement and I recommended myself. Although I felt I could have really made a difference within the business. The decision makers at the time admired my journey.
However, I felt I didn’t possess the academic qualifications to take on such a role. This gnawed at me for some time as I felt I could have helped them win in a few places. Including Africa where they had struggles entering into the market. I learnt that some opportunities are just not meant for you but that’s okay as long as you have a goal and plan in sight.
BUKZONE: What lasting impact do you hope to have on the beauty industry?
Peter: In terms of lasting impact, I would like to be known as a prominent and iconic figure in the industry. I would like to be a person that my children, family, friends and my devoted sister Vicki can be proud of. My wonderful and devoted sister Vicki passed away last year having left the beauty business years ago after spending 10 years working in Ivory Coast. She has always remained a massive support figure in my career and life, right up until the end. My dear sister opened the doors for me and reminded people in the Black hair care industry that I was her little Brother. Even when they had no idea who Peter Mudahy or Pak Cosmetics was.
I remember a time while I was in South Africa. We had just completed a merger of Black Like Me and the new company bosses called me into their office. I entered a room filled with all the Directors to explain what was expected of us. We were then given the opportunity to present ourselves, our role, experience etc. I decided to do a short presentation which started with “I am Vicki H little brother”. From that day it all changed and the following week I was attending board meetings. Therefore, family will always be at the centre of wanting to leave a longstanding legacy and impact in this industry.
BUKZONE: Where would you like to see the beauty industry go from here?
I would like to see the black beauty industry grow as currently we are a small percentage of the 380-billion-dollar market. I’d also like to see more Black brands work towards selling more than just products. And developing beyond cosmetics diversifying into various economic communities across the supply chain.
BUKZONE: What is your advice or words of encouragement for budding beauty entrepreneurs looking to launch their brand?
Peter: The digital world has provided a lot of beauty brands the opportunity to launch into the market with minimal investment. So go for it; set up a website, mix a few oils and ingredients, get the branding on point. But the key thing you should never forget is, do make sure you get the compliance right. Regulations are important so be sure to check out what you need to ensure you have a viable product safe for market. It’s like a car, with no mot you can’t drive on the road.