Since its inception in 1989, H2O+’s business model has truly evolved. Founder Cindy Melk, an entrepreneur and ocean-lover at heart, along with her R&D team launched the skin and body care brand in the U.S. with innovative gel-based, oil-free formulas that were viewed as more natural alternatives to traditional heavy creams and lotions. Her original brand vision was to harness the power of the ocean to create water-based beauty care products that protect and transform the skin. As the company celebrates its 25-year anniversary in 2014, that concept has not wavered.

From its Chicago base, H2O+ came into the marketplace via free-standing retail stores in prime shopping street and mall destinations in North America. Melk then cued the company up for worldwide success in an unorthodox manner. Instead of taking the standard route through Europe, the brand debuted on the international scene in reverse fashion; H2O+ was one of the very first skincare brands to successfully launch in the Chinese market and by doing so gained an early and very strong and valuable foothold in Asia. 

Read more: H2O+

If the parents know it and love it, if the grandparents know it and love it, there’s a great chance they’ll buy it for the kids. The trick is, the kids have to love it, too. To the younger generation, for kitschy to be cool, old has to seem new. 

That’s the beauty – and challenge – of vintage brands. 

Maximizing the captivating potential of retro is the task of Michael Connolly, head of global consumer products at DreamWorks Animation, the Hollywood studio that has produced such franchises as Shrek, Madagascar and Kung Fu Panda.

“Vintage is in – from Lucky Charms to Jack Daniels,” Connolly says. “But it’s been in for 20 years now. It’s not a trend anymore, it’s a market.”

Read more: DreamWorks Animation

WWE Rules the Ring

Round-the-clock content, a cache of superstars and a presence in many retail categories helped the WWE become a world-class brand.

The WWE is one of the world’s most recognizable brands. The giant of professional wrestling and sports entertainment has grown into a billion-dollar company that holds more than 300 live shows a year and broadcasts in more than 150 countries. It also has an active consumer products group that has more than 150 licensees in more than 85 countries worldwide, generating more than $1 billion in retail sales through global distribution.

Read more: WWE

Delivering exceptional customer service and partnering with the communities it serves is what K-VA-T Food Stores’ Food City supermarkets are all about. “We are focused on our customers and the community,” President and CEO Steve Smith says. 

The Food City banner dates back to 1918 when its first grocery store opened in Greeneville, Tenn. K-VA-T Food Stores, Food City’s parent company, began in 1955 when founder Jack C. Smith, his father, Curtis Smith, cousin Ernest Smith and uncle Earl Smith opened their first store in Grundy, Va. 

Today, the company operates 105 Food City supermarkets throughout southwest Virginia, southeast Kentucky and northeast Tennessee and of those, 78 include a pharmacy and 81 locations offer fuel. K-VA-T Food Stores also operates Misty Mountain Spring Water, L.L.C. and its own 1.2 million-square-foot Food City distribution center. “We are not a general merchandise retailer,” Steve Smith adds. “We are a traditional supermarket format.” 

Read more: Food City

Creating trends in men’s clothing is keeping the Hart Schaffner & Marx and Hickey Freeman brands prospering. One of those trends is a reaction to the casual dress codes in effect in many offices. 

“You’re seeing a trend back to people dressing up again,” W Diamond Group Corp. owner and CEO Doug Williams observes. “You’re seeing more dressing up by the 26- to 40-year-olds, and the 40- to 60-year-olds are following suit.” For W Diamond Group Corp. – manufacturer of Hart Schaffner & Marx and retailer of Hickey Freeman – following suit literally means selling more suits.

“You’re finding in young people there’s a desire for heritage, and our Hart Schaffner & Marx brand being more than 125 years old has that heritage,” Williams asserts. “There is a desire to support their community, so being made in the USA is a positive. The customer sees the quality, and they’re willing to forego multiple purchases of poor-quality products and make an investment in better-quality products.”

Read more: W Diamond Group Corp.

Jennifer Adams is ready to hit the big-time this year. The lifestyle and design guru already has found big success with her collections of home products through major retailers like Costco, and in 2014 she looks to expand the Jennifer Adams Home brand even further with the debut of several new product lines that capture the essence of her coordinated timeless style. As Adams takes a hands-on approach to developing these products and working closely with the industry-leading partners – including PEM America, Jaipur, Covington, FCP Brands, Fizzion, JLA, Creative Bath and Rich Brands – who bring her ideas to life, she is also aided by the expertise and experience of a dedicated group of top executives and a veteran licensing agency – All American Licensing & Management Group (AALMG) - all helping her build a brand that has experienced a meteoric growth with her fans and consumers. 

Read more: Jennifer Adams Home/All-American Licensing & Management Group

Bolla Management is taking the gas station and convenience store industry by storm with its upscale and customer service-focused locations. The company’s mission is to become the most successful, recognizable and respected C-store chain on the East Coast. 

The Garden City, N.Y.–based company was founded in 1989 by President and CEO Harry Singh, who was committed to providing high-quality products at competitive prices and convenient locations. Bolla Management is comprised of five divisions: Bolla Retail, Bolla Wholesale, Bolla Transport, Bolla Construction and Bolla Real Estate. 

The company acts as a wholesale fuel distributor and operator of gas stations, convenience stores, auto repair shops and car washes. “We continue to put our stakes in the ground all over Long Island, New York City and New Jersey,” Singh says. “As we secure properties and get the projects into the pipeline, we secure our position as a market leader.”

Read more: Bolla Management

The world of retail has changed significantly since IDL Worldwide started offering merchandising and graphics services in 1943. Brands have come and gone, and effective retailing and merchandising today requires much more than just a well-placed sign or retail rack. The Pittsburgh-based company’s core strength, however, has remained constant over the years. 

“We’re successful because of our people,” says Dave Ball, president, brand centers Americas for Matthews Brand Solutions, IDL’s corporate parent. “We’ve gone through a lot of changes, but all the way to today it’s been the passion that our people bring to their jobs every day that separates us from our competitors.”

Read more: IDL Worldwide

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