But the 67-item line of highly concentrated botanical haircare products is no newcomer. Developed in France starting in 1969, Phyto came to the U.S. in 1989 as a little-known, salon-only brand.
It was when Eric Domel, 50, a former export executive with Phyto's parent company, Ales Group, became president of the company's U.S. division in 1999 that the brand began to develop traction. He developed an in-house sales force to promote the line directly to salon professionals.
They "are like doctors to their clients, and what they say has tremendous credibility," he says.
Thanks to print advertising and strategic publicity by Phyto's staff, buzz surrounding the brand began to grow in 2001, and soared in 2002 when celebrities including Jennifer Aniston announced they used Phyto products and beauty magazines awarded Phyto honors for its unique formulas.