She's undoubtedly one of the most sought after hair stylists in the world, with one of the most cult beauty brands on the market. Her name: Jen Atkin, and she is the founder of OUAI Haircare.
OUAI has grown from strength to strength, with beauty editors, celebrities and every professional singing its praises. Today, Jen Atkin is absolutely one of the most powerful women in the industry, and we love her passion, courage and heart for following her dream and creating this wonderful brand.
About OUAI Haircare
Attending the tresses of the Kardashian Klan and many a supermodel, including the gorgeous Gigi, Jen Atkins brand, OUAI is loved by all. Not many. All. If you haven't delved into the brand yet, or are yet to discover some its cult products, read more about the brand on the blog.
A Q&A with Jen Atkin, founder of OUAI Haircare
- Q How did you begin your career in the beauty industry?
- A I’ve always loved doing hair. When I was a teenager in Utah, I couldn’t find anyone to give me the cut I wanted so I went to the store, bought a pack of shaving razors and cut it myself! After high school, I drove to California with $300 to my name and started as a receptionist at Estilo Salon in Beverly Hills.
- Q What inspired you to create your own brand?
- A I’ve spent years travelling talking to women, listening to my followers and Mane Addicts readers about their haircare needs. There was a MAJOR lack of curated products in the marketplace. I wanted to create the breath of "fresh hair" in haircare. I wanted to create a line "for real life, for real women” I want haircare to be smart and cool. I am a minimalist and I want to encourage women to be themselves have fun and get back to basics with their haircare. Haircare has become so serious and cheesy. I'm sick of giving women hair aspiration that she'll never get to. I didn't want to partner with a giant haircare company or make these elaborate unrealistic advertising campaigns. Our models were all referred from friends and represent the international spirit that OUAI is about. I was lucky to partner with investors who understood my vision and Collab with industry experts in design and formulation.
- Q How do you begin your day with a positive attitude?
- A I learned to really keep a positive attitude and not let the little things get you down. When you are first starting, it's easy to get discouraged if a client cancels or someone decides to use someone else for hair, but you have to remember that there is plenty of work to go around, and you can't take it personally.
- Q What has been the defining moment in your career?
- A The moment I assisted Andy LeCompte on Madonna's tour. I got to do hair for her dancers and it changed the course of my career. Also working with John Galliano. Lorraine Schawartz introduced us and he was a huge influence in how fashion became a huge part of my aesthetic.
- Q What, for you, is the best thing about being a woman?
- A What astonishes me most is how women have the ability to chameleon their way through any situation. They transition gracefully, hold their ground, fight for what they believe in, and will do anything at all costs for success or love. So being a woman to me is finding how beauty, lifestyle, and compassion mix together effortlessly on a day to day basis.
- Q Who is your female role model?
- A So many! Khloe Kardashian is my biggest mind, body, soul motivation right now. Her new show Revenge Body is amazing and she’s truly worked hard and transformed. Her book, Strong Looks Better Naked, has so many great workout tips, playlists, and motivation for working on yourself. I highly recommend it! I’m so inspired by Kim Kardashian’s business savvy mind. I love picking her brain for literally everything and admire the way she’s built such a strong fan base and platform. Her game is actually really fun and I can’t stop using Kimonos. Chrissy Teigen inspires me to get in the kitchen and cook! I’m not a natural in the kitchen, but my husband loves it. Her new cookbook has amazing, simple recipes that aren’t too intimidating for a newbie like me. I love Kris Jenner and the empire she’s built! She’s literally the definition of She-E-O. I admire my friends Fiona Styles, Pat McGrath, Kevin Murphy, Oribe, Christophe Robin, Rita Hazan, Sonia Kashuk, Sally Hershberger, Sarah Potempa, and Emily Weiss who have all created amazing products and brands that I strive to emulate!
- Q What advice would you give your 20 year old self?
- A You have to stand up for yourself and let people know you mean business. I feel like girls are taught to be deprecating and not to be tough. I’m all about having a balance of being nice but tough when you need to be. Our industry can be very competitive, and I’ve just never really been about that. I used to have a Serge Normant quote on my locker at the salon that said, ‘Don’t be jealous of your peers — be inspired by them.’ With Mane Addicts, I wanted to expose the friendly nature of hairstyling and just spread the message that we’re all so much more powerful when we work together!
You can read all of our Powerful Women features on the blog for career and beauty inspiration.