Randi Cogan-Shinder, Toronto’s Hottest Perfume Entrepreneur Triumphs Despite Poor Ontario Busi

In Liberal Premier’s Wynne’s Ontario, small Ontario companies are being whacked with skyrocketing utility costs, higher taxes, user fees, increased labor costs, rising insurance premiums, ballooning transit costs and soul-destroying regulatory red tape.

Ontario may be a great place for fat cat public servants pulling down six figures and overgenerous pensions, but it ain’t the greatest place for innovative and aggressive entrepreneurs.

Unless you go by the name of Randi Cogan-Shinder, Toronto’s answer to New York’s beauty/fragrance/apparel powerhouse Tory Burch.

Despite overwhelming odds and the business-unfriendly governments of McGuinty and Wynne, Ms. Shinder’s fragrance and beauty companies have thrived during the last decade.

In 2002, Shinder, then based in Ottawa, launched her small beauty and fragrance company with her first product, called Clean, a very popular “fresh from the shower” scent.

Shinder than partnered with mega media star and singer Jessica Simpson on a beauty and fragrance line, “Dessert Beauty”, (based on edible flavors).

Shinder’s next big success was her development and marketing of the micro-collagen enhancer LipFusion which sold more than 2.5 million units within the first nine months of distribution.Within a few years, Shinder’s various fragrance and beauty products were sold in over forty-six countries and she and her company had become an international business success story.

By 2006, Randi’s little company had morphed into the very successful, multi-product Fusion Brands company- which in turn caught the attention of bio-chem billionaire Eugene Melnyk, ( and Ottawa Senators owner) who bought 55% of Fusion Brands, for millions of dollars.

Shinder, as CEO grew the company for another few years and then sold out her entire share of the company to Melnyk for many more millions of dollars in 2009.

Along the way, in recognition of her creativity, perseverance and entrepreneurial success, Shinder was named Ernst and Young Entrepreneur of the Year and she was awarded numerous other national and international honors in the beauty, fragrance and marketing areas.

Her story is a great rags-to(Nina)-Ricci story.

Okay, rags may be overstating it a bit.

But Shinder’s achievement is still impressive in a brutally competitive environment and especially in Ottawa,  a predominantly one industry town- better known for fat, old, white male senators supping at the public trough, than for fit, lean, whip smart female entrepreneurs eating their domestic and international competition for lunch.

Post buy-out, Shinder devoted herself to the raising of her two children, a daughter and son (now 18 and 17 years, respectively).

Now based in Toronto, in 2012 Shinder together with her business partner and good friend,  Michael Nyman, of California, CEO of one of the largest marketing and communications companies in the world, jumped back into the fragrance fray and started developing a new line of scents and beauty products for young women and for women, young at heart.

Last year, Shinder launched a brand new beauty and fragrance line called,” i smell great.”

Four scents: angel cake, beach babe, candy crush and wild honey.

Bottled or incorporated in one of five sleek products: eau de parfum, wellness water mist, soft body whip,  and reactive lush lip.

During my interview with Ms. Shinder, I personally experienced all four wonderful scents with all my senses.

Frankly, I had great difficulty choosing between my two faves-  wild honey and beach babe.

According to the “i smell great” website,  wild honey “ intoxicates with the gentle yet enticing scents of honey, brown sugar, tahitian vanilla, sweet nectar with a touch of sexy. This delicious and soothing combination is almost edible, and will kiss your skin with an irresistible and yummy sweetness.”

On the other hand, beach babe, “ intoxicates with the gentle yet enticing scents of tropical breezes, coconut cream, golden suntan oil with a touch of sunshine. Close your eyes and let the warmth of the sun soothe you as the waves and salt air take you away.”

Shinder solved my dilemma by recommending layering these two scents together, thus wild honey + beach babe = wild beach babe.

I told you this business woman was smart and had all the answers!

I also inquired of Ms. Shinder whether she was considering a male line of scents and products, for the discerning female partner. Such as:

“Bay Street Banker” intoxicates with the rich new car scent of Porsche leather on your skin. Close your eyes and you almost smell the fresh cut fairways of the tony Rosedale Golf and Country club and feel the warm sea breezes off the dock of your multi-million dollar Muskoka cottage.“

Ms. Shinder suggested that I stick to my day job, whatever that may be.

Interestingly, this time around, Shinder is primarily marketing her “i smell great” products online through her very well-crafted website and through several popular YouTube bloggers as MakeupMandy24 and Juicystar07 and well-known beauty websites as PopSugar.com. Many such bloggers and websites have very favorably touted Shinder’s products. Such bloggers and sites represent millions of followers and visitors.

Shinder recently partnered with Hollywood and tv star, Sophia Bush, to promote her “i smell great “ line. Apparently, online sales have skyrocketed.

(I personally loved Sophia as the hot and funny Brooke Davis on the very successful, coming of age “One Tree Hill”, tv series.  So partnering with the vivacious Sophia Bush is truly inspired.)

Shinder and her team also actively use Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and many other innovative ways to drive online traffic to her company’s webpage. Eschewing traditional retail outlets.

To date, her clicks over bricks, appear to be working. In a nod to Brooke Davis’ “Clothes Before Bro’s” line on “One Tree Hill”, how about “Chicks Before Bricks”?

According to Shinder, the feedback and response to her website have been overwhelming.

For now Randi Cogan-Shinder and her team are concentrating on marketing, promoting and developing her current line of “ i smell great” products.

But as Shinder’s personal brand and reputation soar, I would not be surprised if Shinder leaps into apparel and home accessories, with her signature and unique style.

Because what woman does not want to feel, look or live as great as Randi Cogan-Shinder.

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