Assessing the Hair Category With Jen Atkin and Michaeline DeJoria

“Hair’s always been like the stepchild — the forgotten one. It’s really fun that people care now,” said celebrity hairstylist and entrepreneur Jen Atkin at WWD’s second annual Los Angeles Beauty Forum.

The founder of hair care brand Ouai and hair tool line Mane believes that people’s interest in the hair category has surged post pandemic, while the rise of TikTok has also played a significant role.

“TikTok has made consumers care so much more about ingredients and innovation and they are more willing to try hair products at home and I don’t think that’s going to go away. It’s going to get bigger and bigger,” she said.

Atkin also praised the rise of female founders in the space, stating that it didn’t always used to be this way. “We have Briogeo, Crown Affair and Dae. That’s really fun for me because I feel like the tides all rise together.”

As for what brands can thrive as the category remains hot, Michaeline DeJoria, chief executive officer of John Paul Mitchell Systems, who was speaking alongside her her long time friend Atkin, said it will be those that can be a brand, as opposed to just selling product.

“There’s something to be said for trust and we are seeing a moment where in some cases it’s working out really well for people who are celebrities or influencers or creators that have brands and there are cases where it’s not. The difference is the idea that someone who can sell a product can also sell a brand,” she said.

“JPMS has this beautiful legacy story that’s now 44 years and counting of consistency so there’s something to be said for the trend slowing down a little bit on all these brands that are popping up and getting back to ‘OK, that’s a brand we can trust. That’s something that’s transparent.’ You don’t have to read too much into marketing. Customers and consumers really appreciate transparency.”

But while the booming hair category has translated into a number of deals in the sector — including Atkin’s Ouai to Procter & Gamble, don’t expect any moves in that area from Atkin and DeJoria anytime soon.

“Never say never but I don’t have a chart and a plan for that,” Atkin said. “I really want to build the team and create amazing products and tools.”

For DeJoria, it’s a hard no regarding JPMS, which was cofounded by her father John Paul DeJoria: “Never. JPMS will never be sold,” she said. “JPMS is such a family business.”

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