By Sara Wilson
Vital Stats Denis Simioni, 40, of Ojon Corp. in Burlington, Ontario
Company Natural hair- and skin-care line
Projected 2007 sales Approaching $100 million
Hair repair The day in 1997 that Denis Simioni's wife, Silvana, received her first jar of ojon oil from her grandmother was like any other. But the moment—two years later—that she finally applied it to her hair changed his life forever. The restorative effects were unlike anything the couple had ever seen. So Simioni, who owned an advertising agency that mostly represented beauty brands, immediately went in search of the exotic oil, which Silvana's Honduran grandmother had used for many years. Traveling by plane and boat, he finally arrived at a small village in Honduras inhabited by Tawira Indians, whose name literally means "the people of beautiful hair." Simioni spent the next two years learning the traditional, all-natural method of extracting the oil from nuts found in ojon trees in the rainforest.
Down to the roots The story behind the product makes up the very essence of Simioni's extensive hair- and skin-care lines. It's also what helped capture QVC viewers' attention when he introduced his first restorative hair treatment in 2003. After only an eight-minute spot on the shopping network, he had sold 2,100 units and accumulated a waiting list of 3,000. Meanwhile, the story is still spreading as Ojon products extend across six countries and 1,700 stores, including high-end retailers like Neiman Marcus, Nordstrom and Sephora, with an even more extensive rollout about to get underway. "It's all about the story," says Simioni. "It's not made up; it's not marketing. People gravitate to it because they're intrigued."
Growing back The people of the rainforest have provided, and Simioni is giving back to them. He has created thousands of jobs in Honduras, set up a scholarship fund and is currently working on building a school there. He also takes special care not to deplete or harm the rainforest.
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