Jen Atkin may have become famous for her deft use of social media and her working relationship with the Kardashian-Jenners, but after years of working in hair, she was a true product expert. “I got to know almost every product, every brand out there,” says the hairstylist and entrepreneur. “I would walk down the aisle at Sephora and see so many different options to the point of overwhelm. I wanted to create a super-curated line of products that were easy to interpret and use for people who weren’t necessarily hair experts.” Ouai was born in 2016 as a paraben-, phthalate- and sulfate-free haircare line featuring shampoo, conditioner and styling products—and the line has since grown to include body products. Because of Atkin’s massive personal social media following (3.6 million Instagram followers and counting), Ouai made a splash in the market and quickly garnered its own social media following, allowing the brand to tap that audience. “We have always prioritized the feedback from our community since Day 1 and so often will launch a product based on what it is that they want,” she explains. “Having a following allowed us to crowdsource the products people wanted.”
Simplifying haircare was paramount for the hairstylist who got her start in the industry at age 20 working for John Galliano at Dior. After that, she worked for hairstylist Andy LeCompte, who took her on tour with Madonna for eight months. An introduction to the jeweler Lorraine Schwartz led Atkin to meeting the Kardashian-Jenner family—a friendship that has since opened a lot of doors—and it steamrolled from there. She’s styled hair for every member of the Kardashian and Jenner family in addition to Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Lopez, Hailey Baldwin Bieber, Chrissy Teigen and Bella Hadid.
And if she wasn’t busy enough, she decided to pen a memoir-meets-business book about her journey; Blowing My Way to the Top (Harper Collins) is out now. “I wanted to offer insight into the values that allowed me to thrive in the modern digital landscape,” Atkin explains. “I came up in a truly male-dominated industry and I wanted to speak frankly about the challenges I’ve faced and provide crucial advice for other women about running a business, being a feminist and learning to navigate the work and life issues that impact women the most.”
So how have COVID-19 restrictions changed the way the peripatetic 40-year-old does business in Los Angeles? “Things are not as hectic now and I don’t travel for work as much as I used to,” she says. “My husband [photographer Mike Rosenthal] and I have gotten a lot of perspective from slowing down this year, and we don’t miss the treadmill we were constantly on.” Here’s how Atkin spends a typical day.
7:00 A.M. Wake up and walk and feed the dogs, then make some tea. I usually start my day with the Five Minute Journal to practice gratitude and a meditation from the Hoffman Process.
8:00 A.M. I do a Train with Danny workout via Zoom or go on a run. It’s been so important to me to make daily activity a priority. I think one thing we really take for granted is our health, and I try to remember that when I’m dreading working out.
10:00 A.M. Breakfast is usually quick and easy. A cup of yogurt with fresh berries and some cinnamon cereal and a side of my Olly Miss Mellow Vitamins. I’m usually listening to the podcasts Second Life or Having It ALL.
10:30 A.M. I’m usually sitting down for my first of many meetings of the day. Between working with the teams on developing marketing campaigns for future products at Ouai, virtual events for Dyson and content strategy planning at Mane Addicts, my mornings are pretty full.
1:00-3:00 P.M. I set time aside to film and strategize content for my personal @jenatkinhair Instagram. Between Stories for crowdsourcing, Reels for tutorials, teasing upcoming projects and keeping my grid looking pretty and authentic, it’s a full-time job.
3:00 P.M. Lunch and an afternoon caffeine kick. I’m a Chamberlain Coffee espresso on ice with a bit of Ripple pea milk gal.
6:00 P.M. Mike and I try to take our dogs for a walk together to catch up on our days, or I make a call to a friend to make sure they’re not losing their mind…because 2020.
7:00 P.M. We usually Postmates dinner or my husband cooks. We love The Crown and just finished the new season.
9:00 P.M. I start my nighttime routine. I use Charlotte Tilbury Take It All Off eye makeup remover, Dr. Dennis Gross Alpha Beta Universal Daily Peel and La Mer eye cream. On my body I use Ouai Body Crème to moisturize before bed and usually finish the day with an Olly Sleep gummy and have to be in bed no phones and asleep by 10:30 p.m.
Main photo: Mike Rosenthal