Hair stylist, salon owner, curl expert and founder of Ouidad
The Queen of Curl since 1984, Ouidad caters to the curl category whether she’s cutting and styling clients at her Manhattan or Los Angeles salons, training stylists around the country on her signature techniques or formulating products that improve the health and appearance of curly hair. Her techniques, such as the Carve and Slice cut and the Rake and Shake styling method, help clients ‘embrace their natural curl’ and her full line of products address all curly types. As an advocate and educator, Ouidad is constantly teaching women and men how to care for their curls, whether through one of her multiple speaking engagements or through her book Curl Talk. In addition, Ouidad is a staunch breast cancer supporter, and her Curls for a Cure campaign has raised $400,000 to date for The Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
From where does your entrepreneurial drive originate?
It’s in my blood. I grew up with a father who was an entrepreneur his whole life and had several companies at one time. I will always be involved in entrepreneurship—I am helping and inspiring other women to start their own businesses today and seeing them go from initial idea to launch.
As you grew your company/brand, what “ah-ha” moments of clarity helped you shape its future course?
It was just a gut feeling from seeing women not knowing how to handle their own hair and the lack of knowledge about curly hair from both clients and the stylist community. And, now that I am working globally I am seeing this need for curly hair education still across the world.
As you shaped your company, what have been some of the biggest stumbling blocks?
Convincing the beauty industry and the business world that the curly hair industry exists. The clients were thirsty for this knowledge about how to manage their curly hair.
How would you describe your management style?
My management style is to always see the best in my team and bring that out, even if they did not see it in themselves. I feel a good leader is to be hands on, to be part of the team, to do what needs to be done—not just to delegate to others. I always want to show my team what needs to be done by example.
I am always striving to be a better mentor. I have gone from coaching stylists to coaching entrepreneurs and there are always new and different challenges.
How do you set goals for yourself?
I have a personality that likes to win, so I want small and big goals to make sure I’m winning and accomplishing goals. I am hard on myself and have high expectations for myself. I hold everyone to high expectations.
Throughout your professional history, what’s the best lesson you’ve learned after making a mistake?
Take a deep breath, study the situation, learn from it and move on knowing better for the next time.
From whom or what do you draw your strength, courage, vision?
My father and mother—my father for his business skills and entrepreneurship and my mother for internal strength of managing both business and family.
As you grew your company, what, if anything, has held you back?
I had a passion – nothing held me back.
What is the number-one quality you look for when hiring employees, and how do you evaluate if they possess that trait?
Integrity, honesty and backbone.
What’s the best thing an employee/colleague ever said about you?
“If she gives you a hard time, she likes you—you’re in!”
If you were training another woman to takeover your job, what’s the most important advice you would offer her?
Take care of the team and take care of the integrity of the brand.
If you were to look at scrapbook of your professional career, what would be your favorite page? Which page would you like to remove?
My favorite page would be certifying other salons in my techniques and teaching other stylists to embrace, not be afraid of, curly hair. I would remove the page where I was dressed as Joan Crawford in fur jacket, bra, and garters for a Halloween party fundraiser.
If someone were to write a book about your life, what would be an appropriate title?
I Did it My Way!
If you weren’t in the beauty industry, what would you be doing?
Business consultant—coaching and mentoring women in business.
What are you working on now? What’s your next professional step?
Building the Ouidad brand to be in every country in the globe and be a household name for curly hair. And working with women entrepreneurs on several new business ventures.
How would you like to spend your retirement?
Bothering everyone I love.