The celebrity hairstyling talks Hadids, Sauv Blanc, and where she’d be if she weren’t killing the hair game.
For anyone with a hint of entrepreneurship in them, Jen Atkin is #goals. Jen is the ultimate globetrotting hustler, one of the busiest and most sought-after hair stylists in the business, the New York Times called her “the most influential hairstylist in the world” – not bad. She has achieved an insanely impressive client roster of celebrities and models ahem, Chrissy Teigen, Bella Hadid, the Kardashians; that are more friends than clients, and her rise has been touted as meteoric (she also has cool 2M followers on Instagram). As if that wasn’t enough, she is the founder of no-fuss, cult haircare brand Ouai and also runs Mane Addicts, a site that delivers tips and spreads “mane magic”.
Impressive resume aside, Jen is down-to-earth, California cool, raised in both Utah and Hawaii. Her success comes from creating effortless styles that suit the individual – great hair that doesn’t outshine or feel unnatural. She might be a Hollywood powerhouse, but she’s humble, appreciative of her roots, and believes in paying it back.
COOLS: How did you start your path into haircare?
Jen Atkin: I’ve always loved doing hair and was obsessed with Natalie Imbruglia’s short haircut in her ’Torn’ music video when I was a teenager in Utah. No one could give me the cut I wanted, so I went to the store, bought a pack of shaving razors, and started cutting my own hair. Soon I was cutting all my friends’ hair in my parent’s garage. After high school, I drove to California with literally only $300 and my Honda Civic hatchback. I called all the salons in Allure’s beauty directory until finally, someone returned my call and I started working as a receptionist at Estilo Salon in Beverly Hills. I remember running out to feed meters for Bette Midler and I was so excited and thought “I could move back home that was enough for me” lol. I’ve just really worked hard and tried to be an honest good person. I’m so lucky I’ve had such support from my clients and friends.
COOLS: What did you want to do when you grew up?
JA: A lounge singer on a cruise ship.
COOLS: Why the name OUAI?
JA: Paris is one of my favorite places in the world. It’s where my husband and I had our first date and where we got married. I love French culture, products, fragrances, and fashion. The name OUAI comes from the casual, Parisian way of saying YES. It’s about saying yes to being that effortlessly cool girl, I’m super inspired by the modern French woman on the go.
COOLS: What was the premise of the supplements?
JA: I strongly believe that skin and hair health start from within, for years I was sending clients to the health food store to buy supplements and vitamins before I came out with OUAI supplements.
COOLS: What is the advice you find yourself giving most often?
JA: Be humble, work hard, and don’t try to compete with anyone else. There’s enough to go around for all of us to be successful.
COOLS: Any secret beauty tips?
JA: The best way to stay balanced is to get enough sleep! I love using the Sleep Pillow app to have white noise to chill out to.
COOLS: What would you tell your younger self?
JA: Don’t expect success overnight. It takes years of hard work to start to build a long-standing career. Some things I’ve learned: Don’t let the internet rush you. Break the normal rules. Stay true to your vision. Fight for the respect you deserve. Treat everyone equally important. Collaborate, don’t compete.
COOLS: What do you see as future trends for hair this fall?
JA: I’m really into 90’s collarbone length hair with layers and angles in the front for fall. Tell your stylist you want a lot of movement and texture, especially towards the ends and in the fringe. It also helps to show your stylist screenshots of looks that you like, as long as they’re of someone with similar texture/length to yours.
COOLS: One thing to take to a desert island?
JA: My phone.
COOLS: Tell me about your day-to-day routine
JA: My day-to-day never looks the same but a typical day for me begins at the office, followed by meetings with the OUAI team, then running to a client’s house, and ending the day with my husband.
COOLS: Or Last person you followed on Instagram?
JA: @this_girl_is_asquirrel and @2000sbabes
COOLS: What do you do to unwind?
JA: Binge watching Real Housewives of Orange County at home. I also love a glass of Sauvignon Blanc with ice end of the day.