Jen Atkin, hairstylist and founder of Web site maneaddicts.com, boasts an extensive roster of celebrity clientele spanning the globe, perhaps the most famous among them the Kardashian-Jenner sisters. But come February, her expertise will become available to the masses in the form of a hair-care line.
Ouai is Atkin’s brainchild, developed painstakingly over the last few years with a keen focus on branding and aesthetics — and not without input from her most famous of clients. “I was just texting Kylie about an [idea] the other day — like, ‘Oh, should I do this?’ and she was like ‘Yes, that would be so dope,’” remarked Atkin at the line’s launch party in New York earlier this month.
Ouai consists of 21 stockkeeping units, including three biotin-based supplement sets that serve as a basis for the line. Atkin takes a holistic approach to hair care, advising clients from Hollywood to Dubai to strengthen strands with health food store staples like fish oil and vitamin D, which she said improves hair structure from the inside. “[Clients say] I have green hands — which [means] they feel like their hair has gotten better since I’ve started working with them,” said Atkin.
Prices range from $24 for dry shampoo, supplements and hair spray, to $32 for treatment masques. Ouai will roll out to Sephora in March 2016, and there will also be a subscription component available to the customers on ouaihaircare.com
Industry sources predict the line will generate $7 million to $9 million at wholesale in its first year on the market.
The line was born out of several holes Atkin was seeing in the hair-care market — the first being a sophisticated look and feel. “When I shop at Barneys or Net-a-porter or Space NK, there [is] a big lack of something that looked simplistic and beautiful — something that I would be OK with leaving out on my bathroom shelf.” Ouai was designed with the minimalist leanings of Diptyque and Byredo, two of Atkin’s favorite brands, in mind.
Scent was important, too, taking almost a year for Atkin to approve. “To me, everything [on the market] smelled like cough syrup or bubble gum — that’s why I hate so many hair-care products,” she said. The line incorporates notes like jasmine, gardenia and white musk, and a treatment masque was inspired by a rose-based perfume popular with her clients in Dubai. “I wanted it to smell expensive.”
Atkin called Ouai a “girlfriend-to-girlfriend” line, and said she will channel her social media prowess — her Instagram following borders one million — to advertise the launch on ouaihaircare.com on Feb. 1. The Web site will also host a series of tutorials featuring models doing their own hair with Ouai products.
“I think a lot of brands market unrealistic goals for women, [like] showing a woman [in advertisements] with lots of wigs and extensions….It’s not realistic,” Atkin said. “There’s a movement that’s happening right now. Brands are struggling to connect with consumers because there’s a lack of authenticity. I’m making women feel like they can do this on their own.”