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Get That Life: My Journey to Become a Famous Hairstylist

Growing up in a tiny, devout neighborhood, Jen Atkin relocated to Los Angeles at the age of 19, where she began working as a phone attendant at a hair salon. As one of the most sought-after celebrity hair stylists in the world today, Atkin has a clientele that includes the Kardashians, Jessica Alba, Gwen Stefani, Jennifer Lopez, and Katy Perry. She started Mane Addicts in 2014, and it soon became a go-to website for everything hair related, including reviews, how-to videos, articles, and a list of the top stylists in every city. In February, Atkin debuted her newest business, Ouai Discover the inspiring journey of how one individual became a famous hairstylist. Follow their career path, success story, and insights into the hairdressing industry., which provides subscription services similar to those of The Honest Company and is currently sold at Sephora.

Atkin discusses how she manages to operate two companies, work at three salons in three different locations, serve a clientele of well-known celebrities, and spend her days with Khloé Kardashian.

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My family moved to St. George, Utah, while I was a high school student, from our Mormon community on Oahu, Hawaii. From an early age, I was the only person in my town who was completely engrossed in pop culture. I was a huge movie buff, and Paula Abdul was my idol. I like the concept of dressing up, changing my look, and assuming roles. I would only watch a movie if it had a makeover or a montage of shopping. I began cutting my own hair in high school, and then I started cutting the hair of my friends. It dawned on me then that I wanted to become a stylist. I saw this glitzy, exciting world in the videos of Madonna and George Michael, and I wanted to be a part of it.

My parents wanted me to get married to my high school sweetheart and have a family. There were no females in my high school who I knew were attending college. I had the need to go after my goals and objectives. In 2000, a buddy and I went to Los Angeles, packing up our Honda Civic hatchback. Simply being able to leave Utah was incredible. It was extremely Michele and Romy. Although my parents were encouraging, I believe they were really trying to get us scared enough to return home. We didn’t know a single person and only had $300. In an attempt to make ends meet, I accepted front desk and secretarial work for an architect and a music supervisor in addition to searching for receptionist positions at the best salons.

Famous Hairstylist

Thanks to Jen Atkin

I learned that the Estilo salon was hiring a receptionist after around six or eight months [and was hired]. Estilo was the salon to be at at the moment. I got to know Jessica Alba, who used to dye her hair there for Dark Angel. It was via Tracey Cunningham that I first met Bette Midler, the famous colorist. And I got to know Chris McMillan, who at the time was maybe the most well-known stylist.

I was promoted to manager by Estilo after a year and a half. I gained knowledge about managing a salon, dealing with customers, and the commercial side of [being a stylist]. I worked as a manager for two to three years before I was able to save up enough money to attend [the Abram Friedman Occupational Center’s beauty school]. I began working as a stylist’s assistant while I was still in school in order to accrue hours toward my [cosmetology] license. I was a hostess at night, worked at the salon, and attended classes throughout the rest of the week. In just a year and a half, I received both my degree and license.

I started working as Chris McMillan’s assistant when he established up his own salon in Beverly Hills around this time. Andy Lecompte, a stylist, was one of the rising stars. He was this man who was living this amazing life, hanging around with Lindsay Lohan and Nicole Richie. However, he was consistently so polished. I improved as a stylist as I watched Andy. He also instilled in me the values of morality, diligence, and moderation. Andy requested me to help him since he was new at doing Madonna’s hair. Then, in 2006, he invited me to accompany Madonna on her “Confessions” tour. At 26, I would have never in a million years imagined that I could travel the globe and have someone else pay for it.

Hair, Nose, Mouth, Lip, Hairstyle, Beauty, Chest, Youth, Black hair, Eyelash,

Thanks to Jen Atkin

Chris offered me a chair at his salon when we came back, and I began accumulating my own clientele. As the one who arrives early and remains late, you begin from the beginning. I went with Andy when he launched his own salon in 2008, and I still work there now.

Through some acquaintances, I met Minka Kelly, who turned out to be my first famous client. After that, I began working on Nicole Richie, Lindsay Lohan, and Amanda Bynes. I built [my private] celebrity clientele throughout the course of two to three years of full-time salon work. I would work eight hours, then from 4 to 7 p.m. do someone for a red carpet. I would practically never take a day off from work. This is the difference between those who can succeed and those who can’t. You must be ready to go at any time and adjust your schedule quickly. You need to have a lot of self control to remain put and work hard while all of your pals go out partying or vacation to Cabo. It’s mostly word of mouth. You have a client if the appropriate PR shows in and takes a seat in your chair for a blowout and you get along.

Lip, Mouth, Hairstyle, Eye, Eyebrow, Jewellery, Eyelash, Beauty, Body jewelry, Selfie,

Jen Atkin (Famous Hairstylist)

It would have been easy for me to stop there, having made my name for myself in the salon industry. However, I’d really want to work the New York Fashion Week shows. It was Lorraine Schwartz, the jewelry designer and former customer, who first introduced me to John Galliano, the head of Dior at the time. I worked with Galliano for two years, beginning in 2008, doing hair for his presentations in China, New York, and Paris. I’ve been working in New York whenever I can ever since. Being bicoastal seemed significant to me. Many of my customers in Los Angeles told me about their pals who lived in New York. 

In addition to working out of Andy’s salon in Los Angeles, I have spent the last two years at the Rita Hazan Salon in New York City and the last three years at Belle Femme in Dubai. Every few months, I visit [each] salon in New York and Los Angeles. I haven’t been able to let go of working at the salon. These are people who I’ve known for the last nine or ten years; sometimes, they put off getting a haircut for six months. The salon is also the ideal setting for me to develop and mold my assistant team.

About five years ago, I got to know Kim Kardashian for the first time via a variety of pals. Kim contacted me to style her hair for a Miami Cosmo cover after she seen some of the work I had done with Sophia Vergara. Kim has such a fantastic head of hair, so I was really pleased to work with her. I met Khloé [too] on set, and we joked around the whole time. She sent me the cutest email, “I’m so nervous, can you come?” just before she was about to perform on X Factor. I’ve spent the last four years working with her on a daily basis. Undoubtedly, there were those in my field who were looking askance. They expressed amazement, saying things like “I can’t believe you’re working with the Kardashians.” These same individuals are now emailing me saying, “I’d love to work with the girls.”

Talent makes about 30% of a hair stylist’s success; the remaining 70% comes from personality. We’re waking up with people in their faces and in their houses. We’re in such close quarters. Everybody’s secrets are known to us. If I were in their position, I would want someone who could be relied upon and who would stand by me.

Eye, Eyebrow, Eyelash, Iris, Fashion, Jewellery, Necklace, Blazer, Long hair, Chest,

Thanks to Jen Atkin

I was toying with the idea of creating a hair-focused website in 2013. In addition to inspiration photographs, I wanted to create video lessons with females styling their own hair, practical advice that people could use at home, and a stylist directory that would provide stylists a platform to shine. Online, Mane Addicts launched in 2014. Jessica Alba, Hillary Kerr, and Katherine Power from Who What Wear, and Sophia Rossi from Hello Giggles were the people I spoke with. These females supported me at every turn, pushed me beyond of my comfort zone, and assisted me with templates.

Connecting with customers and stylists has been made easier for me by running Mane Addicts. My goal was to create a distinct digital experience. I adore technology and apps that simplify my life. Purchasing goods from the shop takes so much time. Observing Jessica Alba, who runs The Honest Company, and seeing consumers become more receptive to the concept of a home delivery service for a need taught me a lot. Using these ideas, I created a business plan for Ouai Haircare. I went into depth about the components I wanted to use, the way I wanted the products to appear, and the idea of hair care supplements, which I felt was lacking. Finding investors in individuals I already knew was a blessing. Feb. 2016 saw the introduction of the website and subscription service; the goods are also sold at Sephora.

Desirae Cherie

Though my days are never the same, I usually begin the day doing hair for Kocktails With Khloé or Keeping Up With the Kardashians at her home or on location. After that, I dash to the homes of other clients to get their haircuts, attend events, or go to the location of client photo shoots. After that, I do interviews, conduct product testing, answer calls, and manage meetings from my office in downtown Los Angeles. Once every three months, I spend the whole day seeing customers in the salon.

I go by Beezy with my folks. I like being active, helping others, and doing hair. I also enjoy being busy. I tied the knot. I’m managing my enterprises, assisting my customers, and I’ll find a way to fit kids in somewhere. That will just need to be something else I do.

Weekly series Get That Life explores the journeys taken by accomplished, gifted, and imaginative women to reach their current status. Every Monday, check back to see the most recent interview.

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