Colin Walsh is serious about a lot of things: sales; marketing; product development; distribution. OUAI, the hair care brand founded by mega-influencer hairstylist, Jen Atkin, now tops that list. Earlier this month the 44-year-old was named the CEO of the company. “I think there are extremely exciting opportunities to further deepen our commitment and expertise in hair, as well as expand the product categories we currently play in,” said the Canadian, who now lives in Larchmont, NY. Prior to his new role, Colin was the CEO of DevaCurl; formerly he was Vice President, General Manager of Matrix USA within the Professional Products Division of L’Oréal. OUAI, which is based in LA, was conceived in 2016 by Jen, a Hollywood hair guru, who the New York Times called, “The Most Influential Hairstylist in the World.” (She also created the digital magazine ManeAddicts.com.) Considered a digital savvy brand, the line served as a time-saving system with an easy to follow website, app and subscription model. In just two-and-a-half years OUAI has hit many milestones, including rolling into all Sephora U.S. doors where hair care continues to be their fastest growing category. The brand is also expanding internationally and creating forthcoming launches in the body and fragrance categories. Most recently, Alliance Consumer Growth has stepped in as a minority investor. With so much activity, growth and change, it’s no wonder Colin was added to the team. With so much on his beautification plate, he still found time to talk to CEW’s Beauty Insider for our 5-Minutes With…
BI: What do you love about the company?
Colin Walsh: I love the passion and authenticity the brand has expressed right from its launch and how inspiring and relatable it has remained to women every single day.
BI: Even though it’s early, what changes are you thinking of making?
CW: I truly don’t see the go forward strategy being one driven by change but rather a company wide commitment to focus and alignment on the biggest opportunities still in front of us.
BI: What’s the corporate culture like at OUAI?
CW: The team at OUAI is truly passionate, extremely talented and totally dedicated to supporting the brand and each other as the business grows and expands every single day.
BI: What’s it like working with Jen Atkin?
CW: Jen is an absolute force of creativity, passion and inspiration and is without a doubt one of the hardest working leaders in beauty. Despite becoming “the most influential hairstylist in the world” she remains truly authentic and relatable to the entire team every single day.
BI: What’s the biggest business lesson you’ve learned over the years?
CW: The greatest businesses in the world are always driven by remarkable teams. It’s absolutely critical to create an internal culture of empowerment, curiosity and authenticity to enable every single member of the team to bring their best self to the business every day.
BI: What product (not your own) is your favorite and why?
CW: Brickell Eye Balm is part of my daily routine and it’s a great way to tighten and brighten after a red-eye flight from LA to NYC.
BI: Best advice for newbies entering the business today?
CW: Start with a brand or category that you’re truly passionate about; tapping into your heart is the real secret to long-term success. The most successful people in the industry are really just doing what they love.
BI: Greatest accomplishment so far?
CW: I’m most proud of the teams I’ve been able to build, grow and learn from every single day. Many have become some of my closest friends and are a part of my life both in and out of the office.
BI: What’s a mantra you live by?
CW: Take care of people every day and they will take care of the business.
BI: If you were to write the note found inside a fortune cookie, what would it say?
CW: Today is the greatest day of your life, live it!