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EXCLUSIVE: Jen Atkin Releases Hot Tools as Part of New Brand

The celebrity hairstylist is first unveiling a $75 Triple Ripple Jumbo Hair Waver, accessories and merchandise.

Nine years ago, before unveiling Ouai, Jen Atkin launched a passion project: Mane Addicts.

It began as a beauty blog, driven by her curiosity and interest in building community. She was making a name for herself as a celebrity hairstylist at the time. While immersed in the scene, the idea was sparked by her friend Katherine Power — the beauty CEO and cofounder of Who What Wear.

“She was like, ‘You need to do something that’s hair centric,’” explained Atkin.

She created content, sourcing from the world around her.

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“I was working the shows, but then I would go and interview people for Mane Addicts,” she said of being backstage at fashion week. “Or I would be at the Sephora and Ulta [Beauty] conferences with all the other hair brands and take my phone, and I’d go and interview these other brands.”

Mane by Mane Addicts’ first drop has eight stock keeping units. (Not pictured: the $40 Puffy Tote Bag.) Courtesy of Mane by Mane Addicts/Dunja Dumanski

The site, which has had a revamp, has grown tremendously since then; it’s no longer a solo endeavor. With a team of 21, online content includes product reviews, how-tos, gift guides and trend reports. “Inside the Box Bob — 2023’s hottest cut,” reads a featured headline over an image of Hailey Bieber. The model and Rhode founder has been a client of Atkin, along with other high-profile stars like the Kardashians, Kendall Jenner, Chrissy Teigen, Jennifer Lopez, Jessica Alba and Gigi and Bella Hadid.

But Mane Addicts doesn’t just offer editorial. There’s a bigger machine here. It’s a data collector of Gen Z and Millennial consumer needs, as well as a “pseudo agency,” as Atkin calls it, with a roster of professional hairstylists. And now, she’s introducing products into the brand. While Ouai dove into hair care goods when it launched in 2016, Mane by Mane Addicts has developed tools.

Industry sources anticipate $5 million to $7 million in first-year sales.

Jen Atkin
Jen Atkin Mike Rosenthal/WWD

The first drop — out today direct-to-consumer on — includes its debut item, the $75 Triple Ripple Jumbo Hair Waver. Atkin will also launch an $18 Ready or Knot Detangling Brush; hair accessories with colorful (and nostalgic) $10 Zig-Zag Headbands and sectioning clips, as well as storage components with an $18 Neoprene XL Hot Tool Sleeve and a $30 Stow Away Organizer. There’s also merch: a limited-edition $25 Puffy Belt Bag and $40 Puffy Tote Bag. The entire lineup is created for both consumers and hair professionals.

“What’s really exciting about the time that we’re in right now is that we got to build community, content and then a brand,” Atkin said. “Versus the old school way of building a brand and then trying to build community and content behind it.”

The Mane Addicts community has evolved, she revealed. In its early years, about 75 percent of readers were professional hairstylists. “It is now shifted where we’re more consumers…but we’re still going to speak to both audiences.” (Demographically, the composition is primarily women, with consumers aged between 17 to 34, while the professionals are 20 to 50.)

Accumulating more than 5 million Instagram fans through the years, Atkin communicates with her followers daily. “I read every single DM,” she said. “It’s kind of crazy that I do that.”

A closer look at the $75 Triple Ripple Jumbo Hair Waver. Courtesy of Mane by Mane Addicts/Dunja Dumanski

Her team meets each week to discuss the conversations happening on the different social platforms. “The one thing I kept hearing, especially over the last two or three years, was ‘I wish I could afford that.’ ‘Must be nice,’” she added, referring to luxury hair tools. “It was to the point where I was like, ‘We have to figure out how to create something that’s going to be innovative, effective, long-lasting and easy to use.’”

Atkin has been a player in the world of prestige hair tools through her partnership with Dyson, who approached her in 2016.

“Timing is everything,” she said, sharing that she initially wanted to launch tools “around the same time that we launched Ouai. And then Dyson came to me. That was such a huge opportunity to be able to be a part of talk about innovating in the space and to be able to be a part of that story. And I have so much respect for all the engineers and what goes behind that. I got to see a sneak peek into $75 million of [research and development] into a tool and that was such a learning for me.”

She’ll continue working with Dyson: “I’ve always really been passionate about talking about high, low product. I still use Dyson. I am still excited about new innovations in this space. I’m going to continue with the content in every single price point and so is Mane Addicts.”

Ouai is a success story, acquired by Procter & Gamble for an undisclosed sum in 2021. A prestige hair care brand with a minimalist aesthetic, the brand expanded into body products, fragrances, candles and lifestyle products. Atkin remains its founder and chief creative officer, with Colin Walsh serving as chief executive officer.

“On the Ouai side, it’s another book I could write,” said Atkin, who shared her life story growing up Mormon and breaking into the beauty industry in the HarperCollins memoir “Blowing My Way to the Top.”

“Really seeing what it takes to take an idea and create a brand that was, you know, a small brand and expand globally,” she continued, of learnings from her experience with Ouai. “We now have, I think, over 65 people on that team.”

With Mane by Mane Addicts, she’s bringing newness to masstige, she explained. “What’s been interesting for me to see in the past, I’d say five or six years in this space particularly, there’s not a lot of innovation when you go down a masstige aisle. There’s not a lot of like new brands and new innovation.”

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Models sporting the $25 Puffy Belt Bag. Courtesy of Mane by Mane Addicts/Carlos Jaramillo

There’s two points of difference with Mane by Mane Addicts, she said; since the beginning, she’s aimed to make the brand both “sustainable and attainable.”

“It was really a lot of blood sweat and tears, and a lot of prototypes,” Atkin said.

The packaging — playful, with a color palette full of soft pastels — incorporates sugar cane fibers in its molded pulp tray and inserts; and the corrugated sleeve is recyclable and made of 65 to 70 percent recycled content. The company has formed a partnership with Pact Collective and Project Glimmer for its consumers to recycle hot tools at no cost (from any and all brands), she said.

There’s also an educational element as part of the launch, with Atkin tapped by Masterclass — the subscription platform. She plans to showcase different hair textures and types.

“We wanted to make sure that everyone understood how to recognize their own type of hair and find the products and the tools that give them a really beautiful look with what their natural hair texture is,” she said. “So, like, a quick, easy way to embrace what your natural hair is. But then on the other side of it, we also wanted people to feel confident that they could do this in their own bathroom and get different looks and play in different categories.”

Jen Atkin and Michaeline DeJoria in their younger years. DeJoria was 19 when the two met. Atkin, in her early 20s, was an assistant hairstylist then. Courtesy of Jen Atkin

Atkin, a 42-year-old mom, has been at the intersection of content creation, the professional industry and celebrity; with Mane Addicts, she’s been unifying those worlds. And to launch Mane by Mane Addicts, which she began developing three years ago, she turned to some big names in beauty: Michaeline DeJoria, CEO of John Paul Mitchell Systems, and Huda and Mona Kattan of Huda Beauty and HB Investments. The three are investors — declining to comment on the investment amounts — but they’re also longtime friends of Atkin’s. Formerly her clients, she’s known DeJoria for 20 years and the Kattan sisters for 10.

“I want to say something better than The Powerpuff Girls — but it feels like that, Huda and Michaeline and myself and Mona,” Atkin said. “It was just such a no brainer.”

DeJoria has deep knowledge of “people and operations,” while the Kattans are experts in content and “run circles around everybody while making it look so easy.”

“Jen is so incredibly smart,” DeJoria said. “She’s so talented, and she has a really, really incredible work ethic….Luxury is something that should be available to everyone. I think to have products that work well, look great and you feel so proud to have, is not something that should be reserved for people who can afford to spend a month’s rent or month’s salary on a whole line of stuff.”

“They were my first clients in Dubai,” Atkin said of the Kattan sisters, pictured here with Huda. Courtesy of Jen Atkin

“It was like a sisterly bond instantly,” Mona Kattan said of meeting Atkin. “She’s one of the nicest humans I’ve ever met. And the way she was on Day One is the way she still is today.”

The sisters had been keeping up with Mane Addicts, added Huda Kattan (who’s been featured on the site): “I’ve seen so many hairstylists grow from it and build their careers from some of the things that she had done for them through Mane Addicts. So when she was conceptualizing the idea of what this could be, thinking about it having more opportunities to hit more of her community — she had gotten so much information from her community, understood that there were white spaces for them — we were like, ‘Don’t forget us if you have investment opportunities.’”

They have a WhatsApp group, said Atkin, where they’ve been bouncing off ideas — from conception to messaging and team building.

“So many emails later, here we are,” she went on. “Everybody has their own legacies and their own business but were able to come together and do this. I keep saying, ‘We don’t have to deal with mansplaining.’ This is actual friends with actual business sense, and we get to do this in a modern way without having to explain it. You know? That’s what feels really exciting, is being able to do something with my really smart friends in this space.”

Mane Addicts is “Jen’s heart, soul and just love child from the very, very beginning,” DeJoria said. “This was Jen’s little engine that could.”

“Keeping Mane Addicts alive was a struggle for a long time,” added Atkin. “I was self-funding it. I believed in it. I had a lot of advisers telling me to shut it down. It was a real fight to keep it going, and it’s now thriving and to see this coming nine years later to fruition is such a dream.”

Its team is growing.

“We’ll probably be close to 40 by the end of the year,” Atkin said of the Mane Addicts team. They’re opening a new headquarter in L.A. in March. “We’re hiring.”