International Beauty Brands
by rebecca kleinman
Tony Eluck would kill on an episode of Undercover Boss. When asked if he hires a nose to concoct his latest celebrity perfume, the ultra-hands-on president and CEO of International Beauty Brands—a New York-based fragrance and personal-care-product company with manufacturing and distribution in Miami— says, “Nah, I usually make it myself,” as he heads back into the studio to OK a marketing campaign for boxing champ Laila Ali. All the while, Eluck is mulling over bottle design, production and where to spoil his sales team next.
His only disadvantage on the show would be that everyone could see him coming from a mile away. With his long, blond, feathered hair, jeans and muscle T-shirt, Eluck is no ordinary CEO.
“I tried the suit-and-short-haircut thing,” he says of his stint as a VP at Vulsay, part of the corporate behemoth Pennzoil, which bought his wildly successful portfolio of home and bath fragrances, such as Freshen Aire and Secret Garden. (A medical school dropout, he entered his field via car air fresheners.) “When you go to work every day and want to throw up, it’s time to leave.”
After playing the middleman between fragrance licensees and celebrities resulting in nearly two dozen collaborations, Eluck struck out on his own. Not wasting any time, his first perfume partnership under the IBB umbrella was Pamela Anderson’s Malibu Pink for night and Malibu Blue for day, a line he expanded with organic sun-, skin- and haircare products as well as cosmetics. He says he only touches brands he can build, and prefers to use stars with staying power and international fame.
Eluck recounts a story about Anderson causing a sensation during a drugstore convention in Boston: “Here she is, one of the most recognized names in the world being swarmed by people, and some guy says, ‘I don’t know who you are.’ So she replies, ‘Well, then get the fuck out of here!’”
Meanwhile, with Ali’s savvy collection of women’s and men’s fragrances and professional hair- and skincare products, he hopes to fill the void in the ethnic beauty market. “It’s a dog’s breakfast now. Walmart devotes 50 feet to regular beauty products and only a couple to ethnic,” says Eluck. He’s also developing another two series, based on Marilyn Monroe and an iconic fashion brand.
photograph by peter langone