Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Kiehl's Float at the Rose Bowl Parade, First Time Ever!

By Laura Medina

This scribe was given a rare opportunity to see, chat, and be educated into Kiehl's first (hopefully, not the last) foray into the Rose Bowl Parade, with their very own float.

In a top-secret location in a small, industrial town, down the freeway from rarefied Pasadena, this scribe can smell Kiehl's very first parade float inside the Rose Bowl Parade's warehouse.  Following the waft of Kiehl's ingredients, this scribe was led to Chris Salgardo and the Kiehl's Rose Bowl Parade float, replica of the first Kiehl's apothecary in Manhattan and dotted with Americana, a plane and a motorcycle.  All and every inch covered in flowers, herbs, spices, and botanics, representing the company's heritage and specialty.

Old & Young, chip in to paint and decorate the floats.

The Kiehl's crew has been at the Rose Bowl Parade Floats' top-secret workshop/warehouse since 7am in the morning.  According to Kiehl's president, Chris Salgardo, he and his crew and army of float volunteers will be here for most of the day.  This scribe noticed this army of volunteers are fueled on Krispy Kreme Glazed Doughnuts and Farmer John's Sausage Sandwiches with Starbucks Coffee, uniquely Californian.

How does Chris feel about riding the float for the first time at the Rose Bowl Parade?

"I'm from Los Angeles. Not only it's an American institution, it's a Southern California thing; and I grew up with the Rose Bowl Parade. I watched it with my folks.  I still watch it now; and it's an honor to be here."

Float volunteers snipping marigolds for Kiehl's Rose Bowl Float.

On the Kiehl's float itself, Chris and the Kiehl's crew picked a few Kiehl's botanical ingredients to represent them on the float.  Anything white, say the airplane, is coconut shaving.  Coconut is one of the main ingredients in Kiehl's products.  Regarding the Kiehl's plane, after coating it in coconut shavings, Chris commented they went on decorating the plane from ingredients used in their Midnight Recovery which is our number one selling product.  The lavender, used in Midnight Recovery, is being used to color and decorate the float.  The marigold, used in the company's Calendula Toner, is the yellow in the float.  Obviously roses, used in their Rosa Arctica, are being incorporated into the float.  Even, fruits are referenced.  The oranges used in the Aromatic Blends: Orange Flower & Lychee and Line-Reducing Eye-Brightening Concentrate, are being incorporated into the float and are being represented as giant fruit decorations. 

Those giant fruits, the humongous orange, pear, and flowers, do represent the essences of Kiehl's.  A visitor or a float crew volunteer can smell those essences, without even glimpsing the float.

For Chris, oranges are very important to Kiehl's...and the float.  It's a key ingredient in their products tackling fine lines, sun/age spots, and wrinkles.  That giant orange represents how important it is to Kiehl's.  Chris, "We use a lot of oranges in our products."

Those giant flowers are replicas of the marigolds used in their signature Calendula Cleanser & Toner Line.

The giant Pear represents Pear Tree Corner, the name for the original Manhattan location, 3rd Avenue and 13th Street. According to Chris, in 1851, they coined that location "Pear Tree Corner."  

The humongous fruits do more than just represent Kiehl's ingredients.  They symbolizes the company's history.

What's really awe-inspiring about the Kiehl's float.  It encapsulates Kiehl's history and heritage in American culture while representing the innovations and progress of the company, making it relevant today.  They know their history.  This float represents their history but Kiehl's is moving forward with its history.  Chris Salgardo couldn't agree more.

According to Chris,...

"Absolutely.  There's been such great, huge technological advancements in skincare.  Even though we've been around for 164 years, you gotta keep on top of the game because consumers demand it.  There are so many great skincare technology out there.  People have to realize with products, it's not 'one-size fits all.'  If you look inside my medicine cabinet, you'll see products for oily skin, for dry, and for instant hydration because your skin is gonna behave very differently in Charleston, South Carolina than it is in Vegas.  You gotta accommodate it, so skincare needs to be a little more varied, to make sure you're getting the targeted treatment for you at the right time."

Now, let's get back to Kiehl's very first parade float.

 Chris will describe the general process, from sketch to float...

"We started the whole process in April; and from there, we talked conceptually how we wanted the float to be.  Because Kiehl's do not advertise, we don't believe in passing on the advertising cost onto our consumers, we wanted to make sure that people know who we are when they don't know who we are; and we still own and operate the original pharmacy, since 1851, we knew this is going to be the centerpiece of this float."

From there, it went to a specialized design firm that specializes in designing parade float.  From April to late October, Kiehl's finally agreed on the design with the firm.  "This is exactly what we wanted to be."  Then, they pass it onto Fiesta Floats (, an unique design firm that specializes in building and engineering Rose Bowl Parade Floats.  Fiesta Floats fabricates Kiehl's float.  The last step now, which is the last few weeks, will be applying all the rest of the flowers, herbs, spices, and fruits so the float will finished at the end of the day.

On media/press day of Rose Bowl Week, it's crunch time.  How many volunteers and how many hours to finish the float. 

Again, it takes an army to feed an army.  Volunteers fueling on Farmer Johns Sausages & Krispy Kreme Glazed Doughnuts.  True, real California Community Spirit. 

Chris said, "The volunteers work in shifts. But at any given time,  there are 40 to 50 volunteers per a float.  They usually start at 7am, in the morning,  then work until 10 o'clock at night.  On "crunch"/media/press day, it's the day that everyone will be decorating until the float is completed and ready for judging that day and the next day, New Year's Eve, then ready to be paraded down Pasadena's Colorado Boulevard on New Year's Day.

Each float has a designated mechanic/engineer.  Kiehl's mechanic is a fifteen-year Rose Bowl Parade named Dennis.  He informed this scribe that Kiehl's airplane wheels are constructed from seaweed and onion seeds.

Since all of Kiehl's botanicals can't cover the entire floats, they use lots and lots of roses, obviously because it is the Rose Bowl Parade. "It's the celebration of that."

The theme for Kiehl's very first float is "Inspiring a Beautiful World."  It is their motto for their float. 


"What we love about this year's theme, inspiring stories, was that we're a company that believes in supporting its communities, supporting philanthropy.  We have our three pillar causes: HIV/AIDS, Children, and the environment.  This is the perfect time for Kiehl's to come on board but at the end of the day, we are a beauty company.  We make products to make you look better; and so for us, it's always about inspiring a more beautiful world because we always wanted to make people look good and feel great; and so, we think the theme is very fitting for us."

For this scribe, from following the waft of Kiehl's botanicals to seeing their first float being decorated then being educated in float-building by a beauty company, it was a rare, historical moment not to missed or forgotten.


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