Photo: Courtesy of Jen Atkin
You likely know her as the hairstylist to the Kardashian klan and founder of the site Mane Addicts and the cult hair product line Ouai, but Jen Atkin has not risen to fame overnight. It's taken a lot of time and dedication for this Hawaii native to blossom from a salon manager to a sought-after stylist to the stars. Here, we pick Jen's brain on everything from building her brand to juggling it all. Read on for her tips!
ND: What was your first job?
JA: Working the back bar at Little Caesars!
ND: Do you have a role model or mentor? How have they helped or guided you?
JA: There are so many, including Jessica Alba, Rachel Zoe, Emily Weiss, Katherine Power, Sonia Kashuk, Pat McGrath, Andrea Lieberman, Kris Jenner and Kim, Khloé and Kourtney Kardashian. I'm not afraid to ask questions so I'm sure I've cornered them at a party or on set and asked a million. Just watching the female entrepreneurs in my life on my Instagram feed keeps me pushing toward my goals.
ND: What's the best career advice you've ever received?
JA: Serge Normant said not to be threatened by your peers, but be inspired by them. I truly believe there is enough work for all of us to go around and we should support and encourage each other.
ND: What would your advice be to someone who is starting a career in beauty?
JA: Be humble, work hard, and don't expect success overnight. It takes years of hard work to start to build a longstanding career.
On Building A Brand
ND: If you had to pick one thing, what would you say has been the key to you being successful?
JA: I always stay true to what I believe and try to say "yes" instead of "no."
ND: How has social media impacted your career?
JA: I've always been obsessed with social media and technology, so creating a social presence came really naturally to me. I'm an over-sharer, so it's fun and easy for me to use Instagram and Snapchat. Social media has been such a great outlet for new talent and already established artists to showcase their work to a broader audience. New artists are now getting exposure and booking clients through their social pages, which act as personal portfolios. I think the beauty industry has the opportunity to connect directly to their audience now, especially through integrated content or collaborations with celebrities, bloggers and digital platforms.
ND: What milestone moment in your career are you most proud of?
JA: Launching Ouai and Mane Addicts. It's been a long dream of mine to have my own haircare line. I also wanted to create a space for professional hairstylists to go for inspiration and product knowledge.
Photo: Mike Rosenthal
On Juggling It All
ND: What is a typical day in your life like?
JA: No two days are ever the same, and I'm constantly running around everywhere. Equinox just shot a day in my life, and they literally followed me around from taking calls at my house in the morning, driving to Calabasas for Khloé, heading straight to a Mane Addicts shoot, then the Ouai offices for meetings followed by dinner and drinks! It was crazy to look back on a day after it was documented, but it was actually so realistic.
ND: How do you maintain work-life balance?
JA: I so don't. Ask my husband. I'll see him in three weeks.
ND: What is your favorite wellness indulgence?
JA: I love doing Model Fit, and I drink Pressed Juices constantly…and Alfred's coffee…fine, also Jon & Vinny's for dinner.
ND: What philanthropic causes are most dear to you and why?
JA: Girls Who Code, a nonprofit that seeks to close the gender gap in technology. I love encouraging future female leaders.
On Staying Gorgeous
ND: Can you walk us through your favorite hair hack?
JA: One of my favorites is the clip trick. It's basically an easy way to get incredible, natural-looking waves. Start by spraying damp hair generously with Ouai Wave Spray, then use duckbill clips to create a dent in the hair, pushing the hair up at the root, then clipping into place, pushing the hair up underneath it and clipping into place until the entire head has been clipped and the hair is in an S-pattern. Let air dry or blow-dry then remove the clips, scrunch and you've got beach waves!
ND: Whose style inspires you most?
JA: I love Christine Centenera, Monica Rose and Caroline Issa.
ND: What instantly makes you feel glamorous?
JA: Being in sweats with no makeup and my husband telling me how pretty I am.
ND: What are three things most people don't know about you?
JA: I never pierced my ears. I am so good at karaoke. I've never seen Star Wars, Indiana Jones or Star Trek…yet I married a nerd!