Glazman, Lev and Roytberg, Alina
Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg
Founders of Fresh
Born Lev Oleg Glazman, March 8, 1961, in Leningrad, Russia; son of Lydia Glazman; married Alina Roytberg, 1990; children: Thais, Dalia. Born Alina Roytberg, September 29, 1961, in the Ukraine; married Lev Glazman, 1990; children: Thais, Dalia. Education: Roytberg: Parsons School of Design, New York, degree in fashion design, 1984.
Addresses: Home—Brookline, MA. Office—Fresh, 25 Drydock Ave., Boston, MA 02210-2344. Website—http://www.fresh.com.
Glazman: Worked as a dental technician in Israel, immigrated to the United States and founded a Boston-based window-washing operation in the mid-1980s. Roytberg: Got her start in the fashion industry working for Anne Klein and Kasper, mid-1980s. Together, co-owned and operated a luxury dry-cleaning business, 1990; co-founded Nuts About Beauty, a Boston-based beauty boutique, 1991; began making own scented soaps, early 1990s, and changed the company name to Fresh a few years later.
In the early 1990s, Lev Glazman and Alina Roytberg tapped into the highly competitive beauty business by launching their own line of perfumed soaps, which they hand-wrapped and labeled themselves. By the mid-1990s, their soaps had been picked up by Barneys New York, an upscale department store. The business grew exponentially and by 1999, the husband-and-wife entrepreneurs had developed more than 500 natural skincare and cosmetics products. These high-end, attractively packaged products—sold under the brand name Fresh—resonated with consumers and are touted by such stars as Gwyneth Paltrow, Sharon Stone, and Halle Berry. Without a doubt, Roytberg and Glazman have found a niche in the cosmetics industry. They use only simple, natural ingredients in their products, which have luscious names like Milk Chocolate Bath Foam and Bulgarian Rose Body Cream.
Glazman, who was born on March 8, 1961, spent the first decade of his life in Leningrad (now St. Petersburg), Russia. His parents divorced and in 1972, Glazman's mother took him to Israel in search of a better life. Though Glazman was leaving his homeland behind, what he remembered most about the trip was the airport layover in Budapest, where he and his mother visited the duty-free shops. Glazman recalled wandering the shops smelling all of the different fragrances. Back in Russia, stores carried only one fragrance, Red Moscow. Any other perfumes had to be purchased on the black market at a high cost. In describing the airport experience to People, Glazman said he felt like a kid in a candy shop and realized just how closed off from the rest of the world his existence in Russia had been. "Even then, I was obsessed by how a fragrance can set the heart pounding."
After completing his schooling in Israel, Glazman spent three years in the Israeli army, then worked as a dental technician. He earned good money making crowns, but it was not fulfilling. Just in his early 20s, Glazman decided to follow his mother and grandmother to the United States. He eventually settled in Boston and started washing windows. By this time it was clear Glazman had an entrepreneurial streak—he turned the window-washing venture into a business with $1 million in revenues in just one year's time. Despite the success, Glazman's obsession for beauty products continued to tug at him. It was not until he married Roytberg, however, that this dream would become a reality.
Roytberg was born on September 29, 1961, and spent her early childhood in her birthplace—the Ukraine. As a youngster, Roytberg designed paper dresses for her dolls. She especially loved to imitate the designs she read about in classic literature and dreamed of becoming an artist. In the mid-1970s, with anti-Semitism on the rise, Roytberg's Jewish family fled the Ukraine and landed in Brookline, Massachusetts, where her parents, both engineers, easily found jobs. Roytberg graduated from high school in Massachusetts, then enrolled at New York's renowned Parsons School of Design. After earning a degree in fashion design in 1984, she stayed in the city to pursue a career with Anne Klein, though she eventually moved to Boston to work for Kasper, a women's apparel company.
Around this time, Roytberg and Glazman crossed paths; they married within nine months. Ironically, the two had been introduced by mutual friends some years before but did not hit it off. Shortly after their 1990 wedding, the couple combined Glazman's business acumen with Roytberg's knowledge of clothing and opened a luxury dry-cleaning business in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Soon, they were doing laundry, too. They spent their evenings walking bags of laundry to their apartment and feeding the washing machine all night long. "Some couples eat popcorn together when they watch TV," Glazman told the Boston Herald's Anna McCart. "We folded underwear." During their spare time, they dreamed of a future in the beauty world and pored through Italian magazines to search for products they could sell.
In 1991, Roytberg and Glazman borrowed $10,000 from their families and opened their own boutique, which they called Nuts About Beauty. The Boston-based retail outlet sold imported natural beauty products. After hours, when the store was closed, the phones transferred calls to their home, requiring them to dart out of bed at 3 a.m. to take orders. Though Roytberg and Glazman were moving merchandise, they did not particularly care for the products that were available. In the early 1990s, they traveled to Europe to investigate various manufacturers of body-care products. They studied ingredients and products and decided to create their own soaps, which hit the market in the early 1990s. Glazman and Roytberg knew they were on to something when Barneys New York ordered a shipment of their scented soaps and sold out in two days. Next, they renamed the company Fresh and expanded their product line.
Running the business is a joint effort. Glazman creates the products, which are manufactured at the Fresh lab in France. He strives for simplicity and accents the products with unique natural scents like chocolate milk, tobacco flowers, grape-seed oil, green tea, and lotus extract. Some products contain Mamaku extract from the New Zealand ferns of the same name. Roytberg is the marketing master. She designs the dazzling packaging that has set Fresh apart from other manufacturers. The Petite Soaps come snuggled inside inlaid cotton paper, which is hand-tied with a silver wire and a tiny semiprecious gem. The Milk bath comes in an old-fashioned milk bottle. Bath powders come in the shape of sugar cubes.
When developing products, Glazman tries to make them enjoyable and effective. He likes to draw on traditional and family remedies. In 1996, he launched the Milk line, recognizing that milk has been used through the ages for its nourishing, softening properties. Growing up, Glazman heard tales of how the Russian czars' wives took milk and honey baths. The Sugar line came next and was inspired by Glazman's grandmother who put sugar on his cuts to aid in the healing process. The Soy line followed in the late 1990s and the Rice line in 2000. The Rice line was inspired by a trip to Asia where Glazman learned about a local tradition of washing the hands in rice water to keep them soft.
Fresh became so popular that in 2000, French luxury-goods maker LVMH purchased a controlling stake in the company, helping boost the brand's global presence. Joining LVMH makes Fresh part of the same business family as Louis Vuitton and Christian Dior. Sales continued to grow into the early 2000s, particularly after write-ups in Elle, In-Style and O, The Oprah Magazine.
Through the 2000s, the company continued to expand by opening more stand-alone boutiques. By 2007, Fresh had stores in several major U.S. cities, as well as in London, Paris, and Seoul. The newer stores include treatment areas and one-on-one demo rooms where customers can receive facials and body treatments.
Boston Globe, April 4, 2002, p. D1.
Boston Herald, September 27, 2000; February 3, 2002, p. 30 (Finance).
Daily Telegraph (London, England), May 7, 2002, p. 17.
New York Times, January 9, 2005, sec. 11, p. 11.
People, July 19, 1999, p. 93.
Women's Wear Daily, December 29, 2006, p. 7.
"About Fresh," Fresh, http://www.fresh.com/html/about/freshstory.shtml (April 23, 2007).
"Fresh: A New Approach to Beauty Care and Well-Being," LVMH Magazine, http://www.lvmh.com/magazine/pg_mag_contenu.asp?int_id=22&archive=1&rubrique=DOSSIER&srub=0&rub=&str_theme_id=2 (April 23, 2007).