Ouai Founder Jen Atkin on the Kardashians and Starting Her Own Brand
- Written By:Bobbi Brown
- Photography:Mike Rosenthal
Jen Atkin moved to Los Angeles at the age of 19 with just $300. She began her career working as a receptionist in a hair salon and soon discovered her passion for the industry. She got her license and began assisting Andy Lecompte at Chris McMillan’s salon. She is now a world-known hairstylist who has worked with celebrities like the Kardashians, Jennifer Lopez and Chrissy Teigen. With 2.6 million followers on social media and her own line, OUAI, Jen is a real force in the beauty industry.
Check out an excerpt from our conversation below and hear more about how she started her brand on the podcast here!
On her big break…
I got a job at Chris McMillan Salon working for Andy Lecompte. For those who don’t know Andy, he’s incredible. He’s been Madonna’s hair stylist for over 10 years now. Andy was my big break. He asked me to come and assist because his assistant was going out on a break for two months, he asked me to come and cover for her. I ended up working for him for three or four years. I worked really hard with Andy. I met amazing people, amazing publicists, and people I am still friends with to this day. I went on Madonna’s tour — we did all of the dancers hair. It was my big break.
On working with the Kardashians...
At the time , the Kardashians weren’t even what they are now. They were still in hustle mode. They were still doing random magazine shoots and collaborations and just getting their foot into entrepreneurship.
The show has been on for 16 seasons now, I started with the girls in season 9 or 10. I really have grown with the family. It changed my life because not only was I working with these incredible girls with incredible hair, but I got to grow up with them in a business sense.
On creating her site, Mane Addicts...
Working around those legends, meeting them and seeing them — Sam McKnight and Serge Normant and all these guys that I idolized— that is what really inspired me to create Mane Addicts. At the time, all I cared about was introducing those guys to younger artists who didn’t know who they were. I wanted to create a hair-centric community. A site where consumers could learn about new products, and stylists could learn from other stylists.