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To most, Jen is a hairstylist. A really good one, who sometimes works with the Kardashians, Hadids and other Hollywood royalty. But to those with a keen eye for details, Jen is the architect behind the many hairstyles (Hello, soft, loose waves!) we save on Instagram to replicate in front of our mirrors each day, the founder of and the reason we no longer have to deal with powdery roots, because she brought dry shampoo mousse to the people. Oh, and Ouai — a Sephora-stocked haircare brand with efficacy at its forefront and a cultish following worldwide (no biggie).

On her most recent trip to Australia, we spent a few days with Jen, and her crew of amazing women (each as hard-working as their leader) and it quickly became clear that everything she does is to help others, especially her fans who also come with a built-in hair obsession. Also crystal clear: her ability to effortlessly nail the dad sneaker trend, pairing her Louis Vuitton Archlight Sneakers with Tsubi denim cutoffs in a what-like-it's hard? kind of way (it totally is, for most).


Her schtick is creating uncomplicated, beautiful hairstyles that are exactly that, simple to replicate. "You want your followers to successfully create each look, right?" Jen added while we were discussing hairstyle options for the shoot we were working on. The rough concept: hairstyles that look like they'd take a lifetime to create but are actually so effortless to master (as modelled by her real-life gal pal, Elle Ferguson. The dream). And it's this signature approach — a desire to make good hair achievable for the masses — that has made her the queen of hair.

She chooses collaboration over competition, always, and while front-facing this might not be what she's known for, it really should be. The steps to success shouldn't be kept secret to prevent others from achieving their own version of a career win, and there's no one who preaches this more.

As Jen puts it: "We have to know that supporting the success of others will never dampen our own. I think it's important to pay it forward and support the other members of the team, so we can all grow together. There's enough to go around for everyone."

On the topic of career success, Jen speaks in perfect sound bites, as if she's been reciting the lines her whole life. "Don't expect success overnight. It takes years of hard work to start to build a long-standing career . . ." She continues, sharing the things she's learnt from "other successful female entrepreneurs" in her life, which we can only hope means The One (and only) Kris Jenner. "Don't let the internet rush you. Break the normal rules. Stay true to your vision. Fight for the respect you deserve. Treat everyone as equally important." And what seems to be her unofficial motto, "Collaborate, don't compete."

Her career began as you'd expect from someone as determined as Jen, and it's a story she's openly shared in interviews and through her socials over the years. Growing up she had a passion for giving her and her friends hair makeovers, even if it meant using a razor to get the perfect cut (NOTE: she carries her razor in her kit to this day and will whip it out at any chance someone will let her use it). A PA role on a movie set catapulted her on a path that then saw her move to LA where she hustled her way into a receptionist job at a top salon. Fast forward a few years and she's the go-to hairstylist for seasoned red-carpet stars, the Kardashians and the wave of next-gen It girls, coming complete with her very own in-demand haircare range.

With all the characteristics of a pocket rocket it's not surprising OUAI is dominating worldwide, after only two years on shelves. Her haircare range was born out of her very own frustrations as a consumer combined with years styling hair. She knew what she wanted so she did something about it and created down-to-earth, simple-to-use haircare formulas that do exactly what they say they're going to do without the extra fluff. Good hair doesn't need to be tricky. So, if she creates a wetlook for Kendall Jenner, you can bet a million that it will be a style you can create at home — that's just Jen's way (or OUAI, if you like).

Ask Jen what she'd be doing if she wasn't a hairstylist, founder of OUAI and creator of and she'll tell you she'd be a lounge singer on a cruise ship or a professional karaoke singer, both we're sure she'd be able to turn into profitable careers.

So, what happens when you put Jen Atkin and Elle Ferguson in a studio with a photographer? They collaborate, of course!


Words: Carina Rossi | Photography: Sevak Babakhani | Makeup: Alphie Sadsad | Styling: Kate McGregor | Design: Phoebe Youl

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