Indie Beauty Profile

Tish Bellomo and Snooky Bellomo, Manic Panic

By Deanna Utroske

- Last updated on GMT

photo of Tish (left) and Snooky Bellomo via Instagram
photo of Tish (left) and Snooky Bellomo via Instagram

Related tags Indie beauty profile Hair color Entrepreneurship

In their Indie Beauty Profile, Tish Bellomo and Snooky Bellomo, Founders of the bold, iconic hair color brand Manic Panic discuss their experience of running an independent business (for decades), share the product development advice that they give themselves and new brand founders alike, and highlight how being a mission-driven brand has changed over time.

The current independent beauty movement was started by women, was about making more conscious ingredients choices, was fueled by the sort of passions people can relate to, and was about products that inspired connections, confidence, and courage.

The same is true of Tish & Snooky’s Manic Panic. Founded in 1977, the indie brand stands today as a truly vibrant business that celebrates the power and potential of outsider art in an insider industry. Here, entrepreneurs Tish and Snooky Bellomo share a profile of themselves and the brand.

Name: ​Tish Bellomo and Snooky Bellomo

Indie Beauty Company: ​Manic Panic

Launched: ​1977

Headquarters: ​Long Island City, New York

Cash flow: ​Manic Panic has been self-funded for over 42 years.

But we're never satisfied! We always love to take on challenges to grow the business because the more we make the more we can give to all the causes we believe in.  

Indie how?  ​While independent beauty brands used to have a very specific definition which was, they solely manufactured their own products, in 2019 this has come to mean much more. We see a true indie beauty brand as being one that is run by people like us that are passionate about what we do and all without the assistance of large corporate backings or other capital investment firms.

Team work: ​25 – 30 employees

Distribution: ​Manic Panic products are sold at Ulta, Sally, Hot Topic, Riley Rose, Walmart, Amazon, on our website​, and through international distributors in over 44 countries and counting.

Years in beauty: ​42

Years at Manic Panic: ​42

Entrepreneurial experience: ​What a long and exciting trip it’s been! When we opened our first boutique called Manic Panic, rainbow colored hair was for goths, punks, artists and other outsiders. As we traveled through the 70's, 80’s and into the 90’s our slogan was always “tested on celebrities not animals!" Famous musicians, actors, and models began adopting our colors which in turn caused an even greater public demand for our product. Now in the year 2019 it seems as though our niche creation has become accepted by any and everybody from kids/teenagers to parents/grandparents rocking rainbow hair. We couldn’t be prouder!

The business: ​Manic Panic is the original Bad Ass beauty brand bringing the world alternative hair colors both semi-permanent and temporary, as well as cosmetic shades never previously seen before. We commit to quality innovation and to charity with 15% of our annual net profits going to a network of charities through our Dye for Peace initiative.

The wow-factor: ​Manic Panic Is authentic! The real deal! Independent and women-owned and operated for 42 years by 2 sisters with a passion for hair fashion and a mission to color the world! It has the largest selection of semi-permanent shades and formulas far and away eclipsing any other brand.

The consumer: ​Everyone! We really don’t discriminate and are out to make the world a more beautiful and colorful place. While our typical consumer is age 18-24, we are constantly reaching out to new demographics.

Milestone moment: ​While they say imitation is the most sincere form of flattery, which we take with a grain of salt, it is absolutely true that Manic Panic remains the benchmark for anyone throwing their hat into the creative color arena. Many of the executives and companies that laughed at us years ago are now our competition.

Advice for fellow beauty entrepreneurs: ​The best advice we can give you is to innovate, not to replicate. While it’s easy to see successful products and venture to put your own brand on them, it’s a recipe for short term success. We credit all 42 years of Manic Panic as a result of bringing the consumer products they haven’t​ seen already.

Just one: ​ Asked about their go-to product, the Bellomo sisters agree it’s Manic Panic purple haze hair color.



Deanna Utroske, Editor, covers beauty business news in the Americas region and publishes the weekly Indie Beauty Profile column, showcasing the inspiring work of entrepreneurs and innovative brands.

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