We’re excited to announce MyDomaine’s Second Life podcast, a series spotlighting successful women who’ve made major career changes—and fearlessly mastered the pivot. Hosted by Hillary Kerr, co-founder and chief innovation officer at MyDomaine’s parent company, Clique Brands, each episode will give you a direct line to women who are game changers in their fields. Subscribe to Second Life on iTunes and stay tuned—we’ll be releasing new episodes on Mondays. This series is brought to you by NBC’s Good Girls. First up: celebrity hairstylist and Ouai founder Jen Akin.
If you’re not already familiar with our first guest, Jen Atkin, chances are you’ve seen her work. Dubbed the “most influential hairstylist in the world” by The New York Times, Atkin has a client list that reads like fashion week’s front row: Chrissy Teigen, the Kardashians, and Bella Hadid are all regulars. In true Second Life form, Atkin pivoted her career as a successful hairdresser into a business owner and product manufacturer with the launch of her own haircare line, Ouai. Since its debut in 2016, the brand is now stocked in over 380 U.S. Sephora stores and has a global footprint that extends to the UK, France, and Singapore. She’s quick to point out that success wasn’t instantaneous, though.
“I always tell people in my classes now, ‘I don’t want you to think that this happens overnight,’ she tells Hillary Kerr, our podcast host and Atkin’s close friend. “I think because of Instagram now, everyone thinks it happens fast.”
In the candid discussion, Atkin explains how she managed to accrue experience without formal education. “I didn’t have any money for that,” she says of expensive hairdressing courses. “I was managing the salon and putting aside as much money as I could, but my parents didn’t really have the means to support me or help me in any way. I think they also were like, ‘This is just a phase! She’s going to come home and get married,'” she recalls, laughing. “They’re still waiting!”
Download episode one of Second Life to hear Jen Atkin talk about her journey from a salon apprentice to CEO of a haircare empire and the lessons she’s learned along the way. Here are a few of our favorite highlights.
“I really loved being in the salon, but I also had a love for editorial and red carpet events, and I wanted to do more of that,” Atkin reflects. “I would have publicists come in, and I would have assistants to different celebrities come in—that’s the best place to network. So I would go to the salon, work early in the morning, get through my clients, run midday to the hotel and do George Clooney’s hair, and then rush back to the salon to finish my day. It was really crazy back then.”
“I think just watching all of my friends and these entrepreneurs do their thing has been such an amazing experience,” she says. “We have such a great tribe of girls, and we all inspire and encourage one another. No one’s catty, and no one’s jealous. We really were all rooting for one another, and I think we all kind of helped raise each other up.”
“I gravitated to [Instagram] the instant I had it. I just thought, What an amazing free marketing tool,” she recalls. “I tell my students that no one is ever going to promote you the way you can. Don’t feel guilty about that and don’t ever feel embarrassed by it. Whether you have an agent or a manager, whoever it is, no one is going to promote you the way you can.”
Stay tuned for more: We’ll be releasing new episodes of Second Life on Mondays.