Houman Salem | Founder & CEO

MBA, Pepperdine University | BA California State University Northridge | Member of the LA Mayor's Fashion Council

About Houman Salem
(2010 - Present)

Houman Salem is an entrepreneur and business strategist to the fashion, apparel, and retail industries. As the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of the Salem Holdings Company, he is the driving force behind each of the company’s subsidiaries. Since its founding in 2010, Salem Holdings Company has launched several successful business-to-business and business-to-consumer brands. Mr. Salem concentrates his efforts on building highly differentiated brands that create new market categories.

A fervent student and experienced practitioner of business strategy, Mr. Salem regularly consults to companies worldwide. Most notably, he serves as a consultant to Semir Group (one of China’s largest apparel companies with over 1,200 retail stores and operating one of the top 10 largest apparel factories in China).

Mr. Salem is also active in the public sector. In 2014, he helped organize the Los Angeles City Mayor’s Fashion Council, an organization dedicated to helping improve the economic development of the LA-based fashion industry. Mr. Salem works directly with key members of the Mayor’s economic team and provides ongoing advise and counsel to aid public policy.

  • HS-DEL

Prior to Salem Holdings Company
(2004 - 2010)

Prior to Salem Holdings Company, Mr. Salem served as a senior executive at the Rubies Costume Company in New York (the World’s largest designer and manufacturer of Halloween costumes with annual revenues over US$400 million). Mr. Salem was enlisted by Rubie’s Costume Company to develop a brand that would capitalize on the fast growing segment for woman’s “sexy” Halloween costumes. In 2008, he conceptualized, founded, and served as the president of Delicious Costumes, where he was directly responsible for the strategic management and daily operations of the company, including full P&L responsibilities. Under Mr. Salem’s leadership, Delicious Costumes operated as a stand-alone subsidiary of Rubies Costume Company. Mr. Salem managed and was directly responsible for product development and cost engineering, overseas manufacturing, global sales and marketing, and logistics.

In 2009, Rubies Costume Company acquired the rights to the Playboy license and placed the brand under Mr. Salem’s management. As the head of Playboy Costumes, he worked closely with the executive management of Playboy Enterprises to ensure the high quality of the Playboy brand name. Combined, the Delicious and Playboy brands of costumes sold to over 4,000 retail outlets worldwide including leading National big box retailers and specialty stores. In this position, Mr. Salem reported directly to the President and Executive Vice President of Rubie’s Costume Company.

From 2004 to 2008, Mr. Salem was as the Chief Executive Officer of Forplay, Inc., a Hollywood California-based designer and manufacturer of woman’s lifestyle fashion and intimate apparel. Mr. Salem was responsible for the overall strategic management and financial performance of the company. He managed a Domestic and International sales force helping to gain presence at over 3,000 retail stores worldwide while growing top-line revenues by over 200%. Mr. Salem successfully positioned the company for long-term growth by developing and launching new product lines including a swimwear collection, club wear collection, and a Prêt-a-porter intimates collection.

Mr. Salem’s aggressive marketing tactics lead to celebrity tie-in with Paris Hilton, Brittany Spears, and Carmen Elektra. In addition, he created a joint venture with the Universal Music Group where he entered into a multi-year agreement to brand Forplay fashion with music. In this position, Mr. Salem reported directly to the founding owners of the company.

Management Consulting
(2001 to 2004)

In 2001, Mr. Salem served as the Founding Partner of SMGI, a boutique Beverly Hills, California-based management consulting and strategic communications firm serving emerging companies in the entertainment, consumer products, and technology industries. SMGI’s impressive list of clients included such companies as (OTC: BIDZ), XSUNX, Inc. (OTC: XSNX), Hollywood Studios International, and Forplay, Inc.

In this role, Mr. Salem and his team lead late-stage start-ups and growth-stage companies through mergers and acquisitions, corporate turnarounds, strategic planning, joint ventures, investor relations, and initial public offerings (IPOs). During his time with SMGI, Mr. Salem became proficient at writing effective Wall Street-grade business plans and helped raise over US$20 million in investment capital through private equity, venture capital, and angle investors for his clients. Mr. Salem also held interim CEO and CFO positions with a number of client companies.

  • Record Company Logos

The Music Business & Streaming Media
(1993 to 2001)

In 1998, Mr. Salem founded, a groundbreaking online streaming music company (and the conceptual predecessor to Pandora Radio). The company was among the first to pioneer the medium of Internet radio and rich media advertising, and the first company to successfully deliver in-stream online audio advertising. Mr. Salem successfully raised technology capital from Microsoft and developed partnerships with leading technology, advertising, and recording companies. was a top destination for music on the Microsoft Windows Media platform, serving over 2.5 million unique listeners monthly. was the first online music broadcaster to enter into good-faith negotiations with the Recording Industry Association of America (RIAA) for legal use of copyrighted music. In 2000, the company received an official product endorsement from outspoken artist rights advocate Don Henley of the Eagles.

Mr. Salem began his career in 1993 working various early-stage career positions with major multinational record companies. His first position was in the Media and Artist Relations department of EMI-Capitol Records in Hollywood, where he had the opportunity to work directly on publicity campaigns for some of the company’s legendary franchise artists including The Beatles, Pink Floyd, Duran Duran, and The Beach Boys. Later, he landed a position with Sony Music/Columbia Records working in the A&R department headed by Randy Jackson (American Idol). In 1997, while attending business school, Mr. Salem worked at MCA Records in the business development and strategic planning department. During this time, the company had entered into a $10.4 billion acquisition of PolyGram Records and converted the combined companies into the Universal Music Group. Mr. Salem had the opportunity to work alongside senior management and the Boston Consulting Group during the strategic planning of U.S. label integration and operations (the process which would ultimately make Universal Music Group the world’s larges company for recorded music entertainment).

Mr. Salem was extremely fortunate to start his career in the music business. He remarks, “Those were very formative years for a kid just getting started. I was working with and learning from some of the smartest, savviest, and creative business people in the world.”

  • Pepperdine University
  • Cal State Northridge


Mr. Salem earned his MBA from Pepperdine University and his BA in History from California State University Northridge (CSUN). Mr. Salem regularly lectures at CSUN in the School of Fashion Design & Merchandising and is a member of the Dean’s Board of Directors.
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