“You have to try this air dry styler from Target,” my friend pleaded with me.
“Oh, like it’s made by Target?” I asked. She replied, “No, it’s this brand called Odele.” I didn’t think twice about buying the product. I needed help with taking care of and styling my boring hair. Since that intro to the brand, my haircare routine is almost exclusively Odele. If someone like me who only uses shampoo, conditioner, and the occasional styling product could be just as jazzed as my friend who is an absolute haircare-obsessed individual, this brand was truly giving something for everyone.
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The founders of Odele had a very clear mission when it came to the haircare market. They were ready to completely disrupt the clean haircare industry when they set out on their journey to start their brand. Their top priorities were all about being clean, inclusive, and fancy.
Lindsay Holden, Shannon Kearney and Britta Chatterjee describe Odele as “salon-grade formulas” that they’ve found a way to deliver at affordable prices. Every single one of their products is sold for $11.99 individually. We’re talking shampoo, conditioner, leave-in conditioner, and styling products…$11.99 EACH. For great hair products that deliver results, that’s damn good. And, they follow the EU standards for ingredients. It can’t get better than that. We were dying to know how this brand came to life, so we jumped at the chance to talk to Lindsay, Britta, and Shannon and get all our questions in.
Can you speak to your background in beauty? Or in the professional world in general?
LH: We come from a combination of backgrounds. From retail and product development in home categories (Lindsay) to marketing and finance in CPG (Britta) to manufacturing and operations in haircare (Shannon). Our collective experience gave us the confidence to tackle the creation of a new brand that addressed a white space we saw and so badly wanted to fill… and besides, we’ve been washing our hair our whole lives.
What made you want to get into the hair care industry?
BC: We wanted to create something in a category that we just couldn’t seem to find, despite the plethora of offerings. We didn’t understand why there couldn’t be a high-quality, clean, premium formula that wouldn’t break the bank (read: where we wouldn’t be angry with our partner or kid when they squirted out ⅛ the bottle for their morning shampoo and/or a bubble bath)? We know that great design and quality can and should be available at a diversity of price points and believe that the consumer is on the lookout for that at mass.
What would you say were some of the challenges you had to overcome?
BC: The biggest challenge we had to overcome was getting out of our own way. We did the work. We did the research. We had the experience. But placing all of your bets on yourself was the hardest part. The journey of entrepreneurship is constantly fraught with self-doubt, with worry. Will the consumer value this? Will it translate on the shelf? Are we raising enough money? Will the supply chain hold?
It’s like a game of whack-a-mole, constantly smashing the doubt and taking it as cues to push harder, to go deeper, to plan further, to trust ourselves and our guts, and more than anything, to keep going… because it is so worth it.
Do you have anyone in the beauty industry that serves as an inspiration for you or for Odele?
LH: Yes! The beauty industry is rich with inspiration….we’re on the receiving end on the daily. I’ve loved following the efforts of brands who are defining ‘clean’ without compromising on function when the industry has yet to really define the standard (Drunk Elephant)….brands who have moved to mass who have completely disrupted the categories in which they now appear (Native, Harry’s)…to those who remain accessible to all genders and celebrate design as something that deserves to be on display in the homes we work so hard to curate (Byredo, Aesop). Beyond that, I love tracking those who are making “fancy”/luxury more accessible in their respective industries. We’re in such good company!
Do you have any advice for aspiring individuals in the beauty community?
LH: It takes a village. Surround yourself with good people who do good work. While we have yet to make an official full-time Odele hire, we have formed our village of support through some incredible independent contractors. People who have gained amazing experience/expertise and have also chosen to go out on their own. We believe in their potential, and they believe in ours.
The second piece of advice I would give is…..be curious. You don’t need to have all the answers, but it certainly helps to have a lot of questions and ask them! There are so many people out there willing to help, share what they’ve learned for having gone through a similar process – whether it’s within beauty or in a completely different space.
Why is clean beauty and sustainability within the industry important to you and Odele?
BC: I’ve experienced a few personal wakeup calls that have shown me the dangers of over-exposure to toxins. For one, [after continuous and over-exposure to toxins] my mom fell sick at her place of work in the 90s, leaving her health compromised, which rocked me to my core. Then, fast forward to me being in my 30s while trying to cope with infertility struggles, I learned that various products – often formulated with chemicals I hadn’t even raised an eyebrow over – I had been loyal to over the years could have contributed to the infertility issues.
Defining what ’safe’ means as an industry is an evolving journey that we’re currently on, but I think we can all agree on the worst offenders and exclude them. What so many of us use as a “no” list shouldn’t be a selling point; it should be the standard. And while we recognize that this new standard of ‘clean’ can’t happen overnight, we’re optimistic that it can if we all commit to making improvements one step at a time.
As for sustainability, we’ve got a long way to go to make plastic alternatives more accessible and provide true solutions. It’s also a journey – one where we’re making every improvement we can as they’re available and financially sustainable for our small business. We’ve moved from 0% to 40% PCR within the first few months of launch, and we’re continuously exploring how to improve upon that. Collectively as a beauty industry, we can do better. Real change requires us as an industry to partner together and treat sustainability as the collective good vs. as a competitive advantage.