OUAI Founder Jen Atkin Talks Kardashians and Hair

  • Written By:Sara Bliss
  • Photography:Mike Rosenthal
Talking with Jen Atkin_hero

Jen Atkin arrived in Hollywood at 19 with $300 and no connections. Determined to make it, she scored receptionist jobs at top salons eventually working her way up to become a stylist at Jen Aniston’s hair guru Chris McMillan’s. Before breaking out on her own in the male-dominated industry, Jen assisted legendary stylists Renato Campora, Danilo, Guido Palau, and Andy Lecompte.

Today, Jen is one of the most powerful women in the business with salons in NYC, LA and Dubai, a celebrity clientele that has included the Kardashians, Jennifer Lopez, and Jessica Alba, a cult-favorite haircare line OUAI, and hair education platform called Mane University. If that weren’t enough she has a buzzy website, Mane Addicts which aspires to be the “cool modern voice for all things hair.” A business powerhouse and hair magician, Jen will be sharing her wisdom as a regular contributor to JustBobbi. Here, Jen shares a few hair tips, how she is disrupting the industry, and her advice for future moguls:

Original take: 

I think consumers want to know the person, and their messaging, behind a brand.  It’s not enough to just make quality product, you need to have conversations with your customers and stand for something good. The days of corporations making decisions for women are gone. I want to empower women to learn how to do their own hair by creating tools, products and content that make it easier to do — without a stylist. The goal is to also stop making the conversation just about women being pretty and start celebrating the spirit and multitasking power of being a modern day woman.

Inspiration: 

I have so many entrepreneurial women in my life. From the Kardashian/Jenner family to Jess Alba, Emily Weiss, Anastasia, Huda Kattan… they are so inspiring and supportive. I wouldn’t be where I am today without their insight, advice, and support. All of them are doing such great and different things, and it’s been so inspiring to see such a strong group of women with ambition reach their goals. Just watching the female entrepreneurs in my life on my Instagram feed keeps me pushing towards my goals

Empire Building: 

Years of traveling and talking to women, listening to my followers and Mane Addicts readers about their haircare needs, I created OUAI because there was a lack of curated products in the marketplace. I struggled finding a haircare brand that I identified with, or spoke to me or my clients – a brand that engaged with its consumers, a relatable brand. I want to be the breath of "fresh hair" in haircare. I wanted to create a line "for real life" I didn't want to partner with a giant haircare company or make these elaborate unrealistic advertising campaigns. 

Hair wisdom: 

Moisturize and beware of sun damage — it can tarnish your strands and lead to frizz or color fadage. I recommend applying the OUAI Treatment Mask before hitting the beach to deep condition your sands in the sun and protect from the drying salt water and sand. I purposely made if for the girl on the go in individual packets. I also live by the Dyson Supersonic Hair Dryer. It has a filter in the handle so your dryer won’t get that old clogged hair and dust filter that ultimately damages your hair because it traps in heat.  Its changed so many of my client’s hair. 

Strength training: 

Mentally, I love to get massages, they bring me back to life after a long work trip and sleep! For strength training I love Barry’s Bootcamp and am so excited they opened in Dubai! I also love ModelFit in LA and SLT in NYC and just discovered MidTown Studio in Paris.

Beauty from the inside out: 

The best way to stay balanced is to get enough sleep! I love using the Relax Melodies app to have white noise to chill out and I travel with my Slip Silk Pillowcases. Also, I strongly believe that skin and hair health start from within, for years I was sending clients to the health food store to buy supplements and vitamins before I came out with OUAI supplements.

Currently working on: 

A lot of what we do at OUAI involves a lot of crowd-sourcing to make the products that our followers & consumers want, actually come to life. Having a large audience, has allowed us to listen to what women really want and getting their feedback on what products OUAI should come out with next. This has really helped us grow as a new company on the map. We received an unbelievable amount of DM’s from our followers asking us to create fragrances from our scents, so we are working on a fragrance line.

Advice for future moguls:

Be humble, work hard, and don’t try to compete with anyone else. There’s enough to go around for all of us to be successful. Don't expect success overnight. It takes years of hard work to start to build a long standing career. Always stay true to what you believe and try to say YES instead of NO.

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