How a Humble Foil Product Revolutionised the Hair Salon Industry…
The adage that sometimes the simplest ideas are the best, is certainly one that applies to Frank Apicella of Melbourne’s own home-grown business, Mirra Foil. And when we say, “home grown”, we literally mean that Frank and his family first started their hair foil business from home in the late 90s. Frank’s ethic of hard work, as well as his natural personable ability took his business to heights which he never anticipated.
As Frank explains, “at the time, my wife was undertaking a hairdressing course and she noticed that one of the most time-consuming tasks for apprentices was hand cutting foil for what was becoming a fast-growing trend of colouring hair with the aid of foil sheets”. Frank explains, “for those of us who remember the old “tip caps “in the 80s and 90s, these were being phased out in favour of the more client friendly and contemporary way of colouring hair, “foils”, which we are well known in salons today”. At the time, Frank recognised the modest opportunity to provide pre-cut, ready to use foil sheets for hair salons to easily use. But how? Well, Frank and his family literally started hand cutting and hand packing foil sheets into boxes, from large retail foil rolls obtained from local supermarkets. Frank started knocking on salon doors to see whether there was any interest in his pre-cut foil sheets for hair colouring. Frank tells us that after several blessed encounters with key Melbourne hair salons and international hair brands, the interest in his foil sheets began to flourish beyond his wildest dreams and he realised that he was on to a winning idea! With Frank and his family still hand cutting and fashioning his foil sheet packs from home, he quickly began to acknowledge that he needed equipment with the efficiencies and capabilities to keep up with demand and more foil – a lot more foil!
With customer orders and interest in his product continuing to gain momentum, Frank used his industry knowledge and background in manufacturing to reach out to Confoil, who he was pleased to see were a local Australian manufacturer. Franks says,“I took great pride in the quality of my product and I wanted to ensure that the foil I used was of great quality”. Confoil had the goods and were able to assist Mirra Foil in the supply of bulk foil rolls and also a meeting with one of Confoil’s founders, Jim McEwen, was further able to assist Frank in sourcing the equipment he needed to support the growth of his business. In meeting with Jim, Frank was able to gain further insights into acquiring the machinery that he needed and the foil that was needed to help improve his production output.
As Mirra Foil grew and evolved, and competition in his product offering emerged, Frank knew that he needed to find a point of difference in his foil, something that made it unique. As chance would have it, a serendipitous “invention” by Frank, took his product to the next level of innovation, by adding grooves to his sheets. The grooves, Franks says, provided better grip and trapped in hair colour for a better result. In working closely with Jim, Mirra Foil was able to create specialised equipment to produce the grooved foil sheets. “The relationship with Confoil was more than just about foil, it was about building a long-term partnership where our business worked hand in hand”, Frank explains. “I felt very welcomed by the Confoil family and I was appreciative of the personal mentorship and support which was offered by Confoil, in particular Jim”, Frank notes. Thanks to Frank’s entrepreneurial spirit and perseverance, his innovative hair foils have revolutionised the colouring result that salons are able to offer their clients. Back in 1995, when Frank started his journey, there were no pre-cut and folded foil sheets available to salons. Fast forward to 2019 where we are seeing multiple imports of pre-cut foil sheets which follow his innovative lead today. His product also solved a very real pain point in salons by eliminating the labour it took to create foils of the right size and shape.
Frank Apicella pictured with Confoil Founder Jim McEwen