Tell us about the journey that lead you to launching Hair Thérapie…
Interestingly enough, I actually never set out to make a hair product. Even though my mother was a hairdresser by trade, the subject of hair was not a huge interest for me. Of course like most women I do want my hair to look good and since my hair has more or less always been color treated hair maintenance is a concern. So for that reason it has always been important for me to find the very best products to ensure my hair stays healthy.
My first passion is without question health and wellness and this only intensified after my time spent living in Tokyo, Japan. When I returned to my native Canada, I set out to do what I always knew I wanted to do since I was very young- have my own business and brand. The natural assumption was that I would marry both health and entrepreneurship in some way and to this end I began my wellness blog in 2016, The Beauty Arcana. Here I did reviews of up and coming natural beauty brands and interviews with their founders. I also wrote some rather detailed pieces on topics such as Triage theory (Dr. Ames’ influencial theory that a lack of micronutrients causes the body to triage or ration) to an investigation into La Mer (the storied skin care cream) to the case for eating only organic food (Dr. Zach Bush’s theory on the relationship between glyphosate, soil erosion and cancer). So needless to say I do a fair amount of research into health and longevity related topics and it is really what I enjoy most.
It was around the time of launching my blog that I came across by accident the benefits of gelatin/collagen for the hair. Having lived in Japan I was acquainted with collagen as a supplement early on and years before it had reached North America. Soon after my return to Canada, I had experienced some hair loss and thinning (mainly due to stress) that I was looking to address. I began taking collagen regularly as well as a few other things that helped my hair tremendously. The more I studied collagen the more I understood why the Japanese were so obsessed with it. It has so many benefits and given that approximately 70% of the protein in our body is comprised of this protein it just makes logical sense that we need more of it, especially as we age.
As I read further on the topic, I came across some writing on the topic of gelatin and it’s effectiveness used topically as a hair treatment. I had never seen or heard of this and I was intrigued. I had tried nearly every hair treatment out there – or so I thought- and so I decided to test it out. I mixed a homemade version of it (adding a few herbs for good measure) and on the first attempt found it to be easily the most effective hair mask I had ever used. From that moment The Fortifier gelatin mask was born and the rest is history.
Hair Thérapie Mask
What has been the biggest learning curve since launching the business?
I would say the biggest challenge for me was figuring out the best and most effective way to market my product. I knew that I had not only a winning and unique product but how to sell it? I had been told at several times in my life that I was good at selling and as a friend in Japan had pointedly told me “… you could sell snow to the Eskimos and sand to the Arabs.” So I was confident that I could sell it but for the first year of business it was all about finding my customer avatar and fleshing that person out which took time and perseverance.
Do you have plans to expand your product range in the future, if so, what will you add?
In May this year we launched our line of signature heat caps, The Intensifier. We plan on adding more styles to this line soon. We are also working on 3 more products which are in the testing phase now. People love our mask and so they are naturally always asking for new products. But research and development take time (our mask took 2 years to formulate and perfect) and we are all about producing the cleanest, best quality hair care products that actually perform and give great results time and time again.
You spent a lot of time in Japan, did you learn anything new about yourself whilst you were there?
Japan is an amazing place. Many people say it is a study in contradictions- the old side by side with the new. You will see in the same train station bathroom a squatter toilet that is ground level and in the next stall a modern toilet with a heated seat and features such as music, a built in bidet and dryer. The Japanese are also expert craftsmen, something I think is well known by now. Since they are some of the longest-lived people in the world they are also very much interested in health and longevity. The average Japanese person can tell you the benefits of taking vitamin C or which mushroom helps prevent cancer. This of course appealed to me and helped to broaden my health related knowledge and bring it to a whole new level. So I learned just how deeply health is of interest to me. I also learned how much I enjoy travelling (especially to beach destinations) and learning from other cultures. I also discovered how much I love Asian food and appreciate clean and on-time commuter trains.
Looking back since launching the brand, is there anything you would do different?
I would definitely have spent less time on the design of our packaging, which took an extraordinary amount of time. This was no doubt due to the fact that the process was so new and there was so much to learn. But a lot of it was simple indecision, which if left unchecked can be completely counter-productive. But the upside is that I learned just how important design is to me and to my brand.
Tell us 8 things only your friends know about you…
I am obsessed with spicy food- the hotter the better. In Thailand I managed to surprise the locals by eating food with nearly as many hot chilies as they do. I love and have been drinking green tea since university. While in Japan I realized that it was actually matcha that I was really after and (after water) it is the first thing I drink every morning. I dislike long nails and rarely get a manicure- they are too time consuming and seem to get in the way of everything. Oddly enough though I love a good facial! I don’t like small talk and don’t convincingly engage in it. There’s too much going on in the world to simply talk about the weather. I love hot springs of all kinds and look for them whenever I am on holiday. I rarely watch TV or movies- I’d rather listen to a podcast. I love politics and debate and tend to wonder why others don’t. How can we make progress unless topics are openly discussed? I rarely eat sweets and love anything salty- I must need the electrolytes. I am a water snob- I typically drink about a gallon of water a day. I have a very good home water filtration system but I am now drinking spring water from a local source (it’s high in hydrogen and minerals). Why settle?
How much has social media played a role in the success of your brand?
Social media has for sure played a large role. We wanted to grow organically and by word of mouth first instead of simply running expensive ad campaigns. After 2 years of business we feel that we have done that and have a good base of repeat customers. Social media is always changing and is today quite tricky due to the unprecedented censorship happening right now. We are first a hair care brand but over the course of the pandemic we have been speaking out on controversial topics such as the virus, lockdowns and of course vaccines. Some people love it, some people hate it but in the end all that matters is that they love our product and what our brand stands for. We feel we will be on the right side of history when this is all over.
What is your go-to quote when lacking motivation?
No quote. When I am feeling unmotivated I usually make a point of doing some kind of physical activity or exercise of some sort whether it be yoga or lifting weights or jumping on my mini trampoline. That usually resets me and snaps me out of any unproductivity.
How has Covid19 impacted your business?
We launched roughly a year before the pandemic in April of 2019. I would say that since the pandemic has forced nearly everyone to work from home and be in front of the computer, our business has benefited from that. With more eyeballs on screens we have had more opportunity to showcase our product and have people actually see it. Also more people are doing their shopping online now so this is also a benefit. But it also means that the online world is more competitive. This is something to think about but it is less so when you know you have an excellent product.
What’s your five year goal?
To firmly carve out our brand within the clean hair care space and convince the masses that gelatin is magic for the hair. I have many more product ideas in the health and clean beauty market that I know people with love and with time will manifest them. I would also love to do a podcast!
*Image Credit: Regard Media