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Prestige Hair-Color Line DpHue Enters Ulta Beauty

Donna Pohlad wanted to give women an option to get high-quality hair color at home, without several hours logged at the salon.

One Sunday in 2009, Donna Pohlad, now the founder and chief executive officer of DpHue, had a hair emergency. She was set to fly to New York the following Tuesday and realized she wouldn’t be able to touch up her roots — the salons would be closed on Monday.

Pohlad — of the Minneapolis Pohlads, whose patriarch left a legacy of family businesses that includes the Minnesota Twins franchises — is no stranger to the pressures of a busy social calendar and wanted to color her hair without “depend[ing] on somebody else’s schedule,” and she wasn’t about to go to the drugstore.

“Clients would call from the road and ask what color they should use [from] the drugstore and there wasn’t anything that I was that comfortable with them [using],” said Justin Anderson, a celebrity hair colorist who joined the business as creative director in 2014. His client list includes Miley Cyrus and Jennifer Aniston.

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Thus was born DpHue, a salon with locations in Minneapolis and Los Angeles, and prestige hair-color line that will enter Ulta Beauty doors on May 8.

The first DpHue location opened in 2011 as a retail store in Edina, a suburb of Minneapolis, after Pohlad commissioned an Italian-sourced line of at-home allover hair color kits. Trained colorists sold the color kits to women who sought salon results with the ease and convenience of doing it themselves at home.

Pohlad built out the rest of the DpHue product line slowly by listening to customer feedback, ultimately expanding to shampoos and conditioners, masks, treatments and a $30 2-application root touch-up kit, which has proven to be a star product for the brand.

“All of our customers were like, “I just need to do my roots, I just need to get by [in-between appointments],” said Pohlad.

But after noticing that some of her clients weren’t fully comfortable coloring their own hair, Pohlad added salon services — hair-color applications, highlighting and blowouts — to the DpHue retail location. A Los Angeles salon and shop opened in 2014. At both locations, clients are able to choose whether they’d like to take their hair color home with them to do themselves, or have it applied by a colorist in-store.

“Having Justin in Los Angeles [gave] us a more rounded-out viewpoint [of] different demographics, and that has been tremendous in learning what the customer wants,” said Pohlad.

In 2014, ACV by DpHue, an apple cider vinegar-based rinse that promises to remove impurities and build-up from hair, was introduced and became a well-reviewed hit with customers — so much that Sephora came knocking shortly after its launch. ACV bowed on earlier this month.

In May, 26 stockkeeping units, including shampoos and conditioners, ACV Hair Rinse and the new ACV Leave-In Therapy, Gloss deep conditioner with semipermanent color, hair masques and eight shades of the Root Touch-Up Kit will enter and Ulta Beauty bricks-and-mortar stores — will also pick up the remaining 25 products it did not previously carry.

Before expanding her product line, Pohlad pitched DpHue to Ulta Beauty as a shops-in-shop concept, but the retailer didn’t bite.

This time around, said Pohlad, “They were excited to try something new. They don’t have anything like [the root-touch-up kits] in their prestige hair-care area at all — there’s no permanent color. They felt that there was a great place for it.”

Prices range from $24 for shampoos and conditioners to $35 for the ACV Hair Rinse.

Industry sources estimate DpHue will generate five to six million dollars in retail sales within its first year at Ulta Beauty.

Pohlad has her future sights set on continuing the expansion of DpHue’s product line — and won’t say that distributing her original all-over color kits, which are currently only available at the DP Hue salons, to retailers is out of the question.

“Hair color has always been something that hairdressers have kept close to them — this is our formula, we’re not going to give it to you. They don’t trust that a client is capable of doing their own hair, when in reality, you are capable,” said Pohlad. “It’s very empowering. It’s really freeing.”