It’s safe to say that Celebrity Hair Stylist Jen Atkin is well and truly on her way to taking over the world of hair. As the right hand gal to some of Hollywood’s biggest stars when it comes to styling, from Jessica Alba and Emma Stone to the entire Kardashian cohort (to name but a few), when it comes to locks, there isn’t much she doesn’t know.
Starting out her career by creating many a do’ backstage at fashion week, alongside the likes of Guido Palau and Renato Campora, she has since created her own incredible product line Ouay, started Mane Addicts (the online destination for all things hair) and most recently, has created a collection of extensions with Beauty Works.
She shares her tips, stories and expertise – and let’s us in on what it’s like to cater to the manes of the A-List set…
It’s safe to say you have a lot going on, how do you fit it all in?
Everyday is a challenge and I used to be really hard on myself, but I feel like I’ve got a better grasp on it now and I’m getting constant inspiration and pep talks from some of the busiest women in Hollywood. I have so many amazing women in my life that are working hard so I don’t feel like I’m alone – I watch Jessica Alba, Kim Kardashian and Kris Jenner. Hair is my love and my passion – it’s my first love. When work becomes work, that’s when you get tired of it and what I do doesn’t feel like work.
If you weren’t a hair stylist, what job would you be doing right now?
A cruise singer! I love Karaoke and I would love to travel and see the world and I just think that would be a really great job.
What makes you feel empowered?
Clean hair makes me feel empowered, it really does. That or a really tight ponytail.
If you had to choose one style to wear your hair in for the rest of your life, what style would you go for?
A sleek, centre-parted bun. That’s my everyday – because I’m the last client that I want to do. It works day and night and for any occasion.
Pick one celebrity whose hair you’d love to get your hands on?
I’m dying to work with Beyoncé and honestly everyone else I think I’ve already worked with – it’s crazy! I just think it would be such an honour to work with her. But there’s no one who’s ‘offensive’ hair-wise to me, I can’t think of anyone I’d want to totally re-style, but I’m sure if I trolled all the internet sites I’d find someone haha. But I don’t look at magazines and think ‘urgh’.
Out of all the styles you’ve given the Kardashians, what’s your favourite?
That’s so hard – probably the most recent! With Kim it was really fun to do the double braids, we did that for Christmas Eve and Vogue picked up on it – that was fun because I feel like she kind of started that trend. Then for Kocktails With Khloe, we just did this really fun sleek high ponytail with extensions. Khloe’s my favourite little doll because she likes to play with extensions, so we can add more fullness or do different looks with them.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Invest in Shake Shack – haha no, you know what I would say? Don’t give up. I think the hardest part of being a hair stylist and being a freelance artist whatever you do is it’s so hard emotionally when you’re not working. It’s hard on your ego, it’s hard on your confidence, but I think I’d say to just be really positive about the future and try to do your best every day and all the good things will come to you – just don’t give up. I’ve been doing this for over 10 years and it’s definitely been a lot of work, but it’s been totally worth it..
Your biggest achievements?
Getting married, launching my website Mane Addicts, my product line Ouay and my collection for Beauty Works.
What quality do you look for when hiring a new member of your team?
I look for girls who are going to be professional, girls who not are going to be drama, girls who are not going to be catty, and girls who are going to dress the part because that’s a huge thing. A couple of times I’ve had to scold assistants for not dressing right – I don’t want you to be in booty shorts on set. Whenever I get any accolades or kudos for doing what I’m doing, I’m constantly saying I can’t take all the credit because I have such an amazing, hardworking team – I think I have the hardest working millennial girls out there.
What advice would you give someone wanting to emulate your success?
I hope that my experience and the messages I put out there are inspiring to people, but I also don’t want hair stylists to think that being a celebrity stylist is the only goal in life. Whether you’re the best at braiding, or the best at bridal hair or colour – whatever it is that you’re good at – just be the best version of you. And that’s what’s so exciting for me, Beauty Works and this collection we’ve put together is really going to help stylists be the head of their games.
What mistake do you often see people making when they’re climbing the career ladder?
This is one of my favourite quotes ever, it’s from Serge Norman. I heard it probably ten years ago and it’s sitting at my station at the salon to this day. It says ‘don’t be jealous of your peers, be inspired by them’. It gives me goosebumps every time I see it. I think that’s something I try to teach my assistants every day – there is enough work out there for everyone so have a good heart and really route for other people – even if someone else gets a job you really wanted. There will always be another job and if you didn’t get it, it’s for a reason. Put good energy out there and good things will happen.
Do you have a saying in life that you swear by?
Yes and it’s either a Kanye or Jay Z lyric – I can’t choose just one but I’m constantly quoting their lyrics in my daily life.
Who inspires you the most?
There are so many. I met Jessica Alba when I was working as a receptionist at a hair salon fifteen years ago so for her and I to still be close friends now is amazing. She’s literally running an empire. It’s so fun to watch her become a mother and a mogul and still stay the good girl that she is. I think she’s the best example for women. I’m lucky because I came up at this time in LA where there were so many of us who became friends and we’ve encouraged and helped each other – and now everyone is doing such amazing things! We sit and talk about where we were back then and it’s crazy. Like I used to go and sit and do videos for Who What Wear in their closet in their house – and now they’re massive.
You’d be lost without…?
You can get your hands on Jen’s collection for Beauty Works Online here