Father and son team, Lou and Darryl Segal, of Herbal Glo. (photo from Darryl Segal)
It’s difficult enough to start and build one successful business, let alone two. But Lou Segal and his family have done just that.
Segal began his career as a pharmacist working in Cape Town, South Africa. Having received his formal training in Pretoria, South Africa, he had also started blending natural products to help his customers with their ailments. He was one of a few pharmacists who specialized in pharmacognosy, the study of how plants or other natural sources can be used for medicinal purposes.
The course of his career took a dramatic change when he took a safari vacation in Mozambique. It was during this trip that he noticed an interesting phenomenon. “The people of one particular tribe had incredibly thick, full hair and younger looking skin as compared to the people of the other tribes,” said Segal.
With help from the chief of the tribe, Segal learned that, for certain ceremonies, “these particular people would gather plants, roots, flowers, leaves and the extracts from the barks of trees and mix these all into a paste form. Then they would apply this mixture to their face and heads.”
Segal took some of the mixture back to Cape Town, where he added various percentages of it to his own products; scalp formulas, shampoos and conditioners, as well as to his anti-aging skin care products. With encouraging feedback – his customers reported less hair loss, thicker hair growth and that they thought they looked younger – the products did very well.
As a teenager, Segal’s son, Darryl, became interested in his father’s business, in how natural ingredients can help people overcome all kinds of hair and skin care issues. But, before he could become more involved in the business, the Segal family decided to leave South Africa, given the political situation.
Lou, his wife Friedah and their adult children Darryl and Janine headed to Vancouver, where their other children, Basil and Ramona, had moved earlier. The family couldn’t take much with them, so they arrived in Vancouver in 1979 with little money – but they had all their formulations.
“It is never easy when you build a life and business in one country, then realize that you have to give that all up, move to a new country and start all over again,” Darryl Segal told the Independent. But his father was confident that they could start again and achieve success. And they did.
Based on their earlier work, the father and son team were able to rebuild the family business in Canada. Also a pharmacist, Darryl Segal first had to re-qualify at the University of British Columbia (having come from another country) and then spent seven years at Shoppers Drug Mart in Kerrisdale; he also researched and added to his father’s formulations. In 1986, the Segals established Herbal Glo, making products with “natural essential nutrients” that “contain none of the harmful chemicals like parabens, formaldehydes and phthalates,” said Darryl Segal.
It was a rough start, admitted the younger Segal, as nobody knew them in Vancouver. But he and his father helped “boost each other even when things got rough,” he said.
At first, the Segals relied on a manufacturer to make their hair-care products. Six years ago, they opened their own factory in Richmond. “We expand as we need and as space becomes available,” said Darryl Segal. Herbal Glo products are manufactured, bottled and labeled here, before being sold both locally and worldwide.
The Segals have three brands: Herbal Glo, which can be found in health food stores; Segals Solutions, available in beauty salons; and Feels like a Facelift, which is sold in drugstores, like London Drugs. They have also written a book, called Hair for Life, which is on its fifth edition.
In addition to their own endeavours, Darryl Segal enjoys helping others create their own brands. Herbal Glo offers a “one-stop shop” that helps people choose and manufacture formulations, as well as design logos and handle packaging. “We persevered in the fiercely competitive world of the cosmetic industry. Now I am able to give back by helping others,” he said.
Herbal Glo, which has a staff of 10, recently earned the company its third National Nutrition Award. In addition to not using harmful chemicals in their products, the Segals do not test their products on animals, their products do not contain any animal ingredients, they are gluten-free and they contain organic ingredients whenever possible.
Almost 40 years after coming to Canada, the Segals are still working together. Lou Segal, who is 92, said he still enjoys coming to work, and offers advice where he can. Said Darryl Segal of his father, “He is still passionate about helping people all over the world to see and feel results with his formulations.”
A third generation of the Segal family has begun working with the company. Darryl Segal’s son, Daniel, completed a qualification in cosmetic compounding from University of California, Los Angeles, in April of last year.
“I’ve always enjoyed working in my father’s factory,” said Daniel Segal, who has shown his passion for organic, natural ingredients – such as jojoba oil and shea butter – with the development of a new blend of moisturizer.
And so Herbal Glo continues to grow.
Shula Klinger is an author and journalist living in North Vancouver. Find out more at shulaklinger.com.