it’s safe to say i’m pretty much obsessed with my hair.
thanks to bianca hillier at andy lecompte salon, i’ve been able to achieve the hair i’ve wanted for years: balayage highlights in the right places to add dimension to my natural color, all while staying healthy, bouncy, shiny, and LONG. taking a look at bianca’s instagram, it’s obvious she’s the hair queen!
i don’t cut my hair. like ever. so it’s super important for me to keep it healthy – it’s my only option.
i have two secrets for keeping my hair healthy: sweet almond oil, and OLAPLEX!
i’m all about using low-maintenance, natural products – like coconut oil – as opposed to something formulated specifically for hair. but when bianca first used olaplex on my hair, i instantly became a convert.
the first time i dried my hair after using it at home, it looked like i had gotten a blow-out at the salon… i was sold.
dean christal is the CEO and owner of olaplex, one of the hottest brands in the professional beauty space. he was gracious enough to sit down with me and answer some of my questions about how he got into the beauty business, his goals for the future, balancing work and family, and what motivates him to succeed.
thanks dean, i appreciate your time (and i’m obsessed with your products)!
how did you get involved in the beauty industry?
my whole life i’ve been involved in some way in the beauty industry. growing up, my dad was a successful beauty distributor in the midwest. my mom was a hairdresser. so i grew up helping her mix color, and helping my dad organize store shelves. my brother started the brand alterna and california tanolapl and i always helped him out on those ventures. but i spent the first 20 years of my career in the fashion and apparel industries. it wasn’t until 2008 that i launched my first brand in the beauty industry – a product line called liqwd.
was liqwd a success?
liqwd was a moderate success – we still have some super loyal customers, but the best thing about liqwd was that it put be on the road to create olaplex.
amazing how we apply what we learn from past ventures. tell me about that – how did you transition from liqwd to olaplex?
in 2012, i was experimenting with a new silicone technology and running into some problems, so i was introduced to dr. craig hawker who coincidentally lived about 15 minutes away from me in santa barbara, ca. ee immediately clicked and over the course of an afternoon moved from the questions with the silicone product i was working on to other problems and issues in the beauty industry. almost immediately, we decided to work together along with dr. eric pressly, another phd in materials science and a former student of dr. hawker’s. within a few months, we were testing a prototype of what eventually became olaplex.
you guys seriously have a cult following – were you surprised with the success of olaplex?
if i am going to be honest – yes, i was. i knew we had something magical – a product that really worked, it wasn’t just a clever marketing campaign. but i was still shocked at how quickly it took off. we opened more than 100,000 accounts in the united states alone in our first year. and we did it without any paid advertising.
there are a lot of great products that launch every year, why do you think olaplex took off?
i think it’s two fold, one: the product actually worked. it isn’t snake oil. dr. craig hawker is one of the most established materials scientists in the world, and he and dr. pressly really found a scientific solution to the problem of damage that occurred during chemical treatments. and the second, is the impact of social media. olaplex relied almost exclusively on word-of-mouth promotion on social media. we were fortunate enough to have two of the biggest hairdressers in the world tracey cunningham and guy tang as earlier testers and supporters of the product – and other top colorists quickly followed. without social media, olaplex would still be a successful product – but the growth would have been much slower.
overnight success if a blessing – but it can also be a curse. what has been the most difficult thing about olaplex’s success?
well, honestly, this is a good problem to have, but with quick success – internal resources and infrastructure hasn’t always developed as fast as the demand for our products. we have spent the past three years hiring people – and we are still hiring more – to service our customers on social media, to serve in regulatory, sales, and legal positions – and we’re just getting to a point now where we can catch our breath and say, “what’s next?”.
what are you most looking forward to in the next 3 to 5 years?
launching new products and reaching more stylists. we still have a lot of stylists who don’t use olaplex – or don’t use it enough, and we want to change that!