Crown Affair, romantically enough, is a love letter to those who seek to change their relationship with their hair and appreciate its natural beauty. Founded in January 2020 by Dianna Cohen, Crown Affair offers a collection of four post-wash essentials including, The Brush, The Comb, The Towel, and The Oil. Together, these items help build a strong foundation for any healthy haircare routine, and are designed to enhance any texture, length, or style. By Cohen’s observation, her brand is unique from other styling tools and DIY hair guides in its genuine creation of a space–or better yet a platform–that puts the care back in haircare. By prioritizing clean ingredients, effective formulations, and handmade tools, Crown Affair has engineered a new kind of high quality haircare that is unapologetically rooted in ritual.
Before Cohen launched Crown Affair, the native Floridian had the privilege of interning and working full-time at a host of both startups and established companies during the early years of her career in New York City. From Valentino during multiple award seasons, to Thakoon the year that Moda Operandi launched—she helped produce one of their first e-commerce shoots with the Moda co-founders–to Into The Gloss, she experienced firsthand the shift in consumer behavior from traditional print to a digital community rooted in storytelling. Cohen’s creative vision for what e-commerce could become brought her to luxury luggage brand, Away, and eventually led her to step out on her own in 2017 to launch Levitate, a brand consulting agency.
Cohen credits the cumulative learnings she’s gleaned from the many self-aware, inspiring, and some notoriously challenging founders who influenced her career to how she shows up for herself and her team at Crown Affair today. She is endlessly grateful, particularly as we navigate the unprecedented circumstances of today, for the privilege to create a message and product that changes that way someone might move through the world.
Below, Cohen opens up to DuJour about learning to embrace life’s changes, what it’s like being a verbal processor, and how she puts her best hair forward with the help of Crown Affair.
What makes Crown Affair special?
In an industry that’s been driven by professional lines, style, and color—Crown Affair is about mindful care. We work with the best craftsmen and chemists from Italy, Switzerland, Japan, and Korea to create clean formulas and beautiful tools that transform your everyday hair routine into a true ritual. We handcraft our tools from carefully sourced materials like 100% plant-based acetate and natural beechwood, and design them to last a long time.
Of all the product categories, why haircare in the first place?
You know how you have that friend that really, really loves skincare? I’m that way with haircare. I try and test a lot of products. I love researching new ingredients and formulas for growth, shine, strength, and overall health. I have a haircare ritual that probably is more like someone’s skincare routine in the way that it is multi-step. I refined my personal ritual for healthy, easy, air dry and daily maintenance (check out: The Set), and would share that with friends and anyone who would ask.
Crown Affair set out to reimagine the everyday haircare routine. How has Crown Affair needed to reimagine itself as a brand during the time of COVID-19?
Our mission has always been focused on care and taking time for the things that make you feel your most you. Now for those who are able to stay at home, it’s been a moment to revisit how you care for yourself and the rituals and structures to support wellbeing. I’ve always seen hair as a part of my wellness routine. Now that salons have been closed down or the frequency of blow drying and styling your hair has been dramatically lowered, people are reconnecting with their hair and relationship to it, focusing on daily care instead of a quick fix. We’re finding our community and new customers responding to our mission since launch, especially as the world leans into investing in fewer, better things and understanding where their products are coming from and who makes them.
How have you adapted to our new socially distanced way of life?
I miss connecting with our community, partners, investors— everyone—IRL. I get energized by an inspiring conversation over coffee. Zoom and phone calls are still powerful and efficient, but building that connection overtime isn’t quite the same. Building a team remotely has its challenges, but I’m grateful to have this be a part of our DNA from the beginning. Leading, growing, and operating during COVID-19 is what we’re mapping into. There’s a lot of unknowns, but we’re mindfully navigating it as our normal.
What gives you hope in 2020?
Our generation and Gen Z give me hope for the future. This moment has been a catalyst for many outdated structures to finally crumble. It will take time, but I’m hopeful that we’re waking up to how we spend our time and energy. I’m hopeful this time will allow us to prioritize our values as a society and reorient to our more present selves.
You have gorgeous hair. How do you take care of it?
You’ll never find us using the terms good hair or #hairgoals—to me, I feel best in my hair on day two, after I brushed it out before going to sleep and I wake up with that Kate Moss volume in my crown. Admittedly, it’s been a journey to find the balance in caring for my hair. So much of the magic happens in the pre- and post-wash ritual. Brushing my hair with our dual-bristle nylon and boar brush before the shower moves the natural healthy oils down the hair shaft and removes build up or debris from the scalp.
In the shower, I use products from Christophe Robin, Oribe, and some of our in-production samples. I shampoo about twice a week and alternate every third shampoo with a pH balancing scalp scrub. I condition about twice a week and will layer on a nourishing renewal mask treatment once a week mid-length to ends. I always comb through the product with a wide-tooth comb. It helps with detangling and helps with natural shedding (you should lose about 50 – 100 hairs a day). It also feels great on your scalp for a little zen, in-shower scalp massage.
Post shower, I live in The Towel. Your hair as a fiber is most vulnerable when wet, so it’s important to use a hair-specific towel and not your body towel to dry your strands and prevent breakage and frizz. After my hair is mostly dry, I’ll comb it out, apply The Oil to hydrate and smooth my strands. Most days I air dry. I love my natural wave, but I also celebrate and appreciate the softness that comes from a blow dryer or curling iron. When I sporadically use hot tools, I always use a heat protector and make sure I get a few days of wear before wash day.
Be honest, do you ever have bad hair days?
If I wash my hair way too late in the evening and fall asleep with it slightly damp (never super wet), I find my hair looks weighed down at the root and I’ll have to wait a day to brush it out or wash it again to get my natural vibe back. It happens, but I really try to wash my hair early enough evening well before my head hits the pillow for a complete dry.
What’s the most stressful thing about being you?
I am not great at being still. I enjoy feeling productive and finding consistency in my rituals and structures. Even in the moments I’m relaxing or offline, I have a burning curiosity to learn something and absorb in that window. That said, the nothing time is so important for our brain to process everything. Time is powerful; it’s in those moments of pause that I can think most clearly.
What piece of advice do you wish you could share with your younger self?
I recently discovered that I’m a verbal processor at work. I wish I could tell my younger self to talk out loud when I need to process a problem or task— even though it feels really silly— I’ve experienced how powerful it can be. We’re often taught to read or work in silence, but the movement associated with processing has been helpful. I would also tell myself: don’t be afraid to be a beginner. Try everything you’re curious about and don’t worry about the outcome.