How Jenny Strebe used positive affirmations and crystal healing to create her modern haircare brand AIIR Professional
Describe AIIR Professional in a few words?
A modern haircare brand that is focused on well being through positive affirmations & crystal healing.
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
As I was driving every aspect of my stylist business and social media facets, the peace and relief I found in living a more holistic life began to weave its way into my everyday mental forefront. I wanted to use hair products that reflected my lifestyle. In 2016 I began to create an innovative hair care line that produces brilliant results, as tested by top hairstylists, with holistic ingredients that provide balance and manifest a centered life.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
Prior to starting AIIR, I was a hair stylist who was determined to make a name for myself in the industry. I did this by entering every competition that came my way, thereby sharpening my skills from trendy haircuts to editorial and bridal styles. With the knowledge that beauty and fashion is global and wanting to understand the European market, I eventually moved to Europe in the early 2000s to work alongside extremely talented and diverse stylists and expand my knowledge of the European market.
By 2011 I was back in Arizona, married, renting a booth and soon to be a mom. During the crazy (and wonderful!) adjustment period of becoming a mom, I began writing my blog, The Confessions of a Hairstylist. My blog officially launched in 2012 and became an instant hit-filled with tips and tricks for hairstylists everywhere. Soon, I had amassed a significant following on Instagram, developed a YouTube channel with hundreds of videos and authored 3 books which are sold in 17 countries.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
I would say yes and no! 18 years ago I made a personal mission to carve my own stylist career path, one that goes beyond the chair. Did I realize this was going to mean I’d self-fund and develop my own hair care line? No! However, I’ve always been a dreamer and knew I was capable of whatever I put my best foot forward toward.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
With AIIR being self-funded and launching during the uncertainty of a global pandemic, our marketing budget was definitely limited. I largely relied on an organic approach and reaching out to influencers to share our products on their platforms. I am lucky myself to have amassed nearly half a million followers on Instagram, giving me the ability to promote the product on my own platform to people who have supported me since the beginning. There were definitely moments of frustration with the limited budget but at the same time an organic approach felt very genuine and I am proud of that.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
I don’t look at any mistakes as such but I look at mistakes as learning opportunities and growth opportunities. One lesson I quickly learned is that you need to cross all the t’s and make sure that your communication is super clear. Our initial launch got pushed back by 3 months due to not testing the holographic on our labels. The holographic got burnt and chipped costing us over 30k and resulting in a January 2020 launch.
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
AIIR for sure. It’s 100% self funded, and we are doing incredible.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
Our AIIR Team is a small, lovely group made up of 7 people! When hiring my team, it was important that our values and desires aligned. I wanted a team that was passionate about our brand and truly believed in the products. I also love creativity! I make it clear that I want everyone to feel comfortable sharing their ideas and being their authentic self. With that being said, I would not say I have one specific go to question but rather an open conversation about what we are both looking for and if those ideals align.
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
I am beyond grateful and humbled to say that AIIR grew exponentially during the year 2020. In fact, in this past year AIIR has grown to be a multimillion dollar brand. It was humbling because when I self-funded AIIR, I had $63 left in my bank account. To think it has grown this much, in this short of a time is crazy! I believe a large part of our success this past year can be attributed to the wellness ethos we have and people’s desire for a centered and balanced life.
With that being said, I want to acknowledge the hardship that many hair stylists have encountered with salons being closed for a large majority of the year. Covid-19 has been physically and mentally daunting on everyone and I am sending my thoughts and optimistic energy to all.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
Oh wow! As cliche as it sounds, AIIR has so much in store for 2021 and beyond. We have some new products on the horizon so you can expect to see those! I would also love to see AIIR retailed in a variety of different stores. It is important to me that we continue to push our wellness ethos and create a brand that is something more than just a hair care line, but rather a community of individuals who strive for overall well being.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
I have learned, as many others have this year, that life is going to throw many obstacles your way! This does not mean that you should just give up but instead take it as a redirection.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
I wish people would have told me that failure is a part of it and how to positively reframe my mistakes. If I knew about my mindset then the way I do now, I would be so much better off.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
Journaling is huge for me! I write down what I am grateful for and what I strive for everyday. This is an amazing way for me to check in with myself daily. I also have been practicing yoga for years which really plays a large part in keeping me centered.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Totally! I am a wife and mom of two so keeping a work/life balance is huge for me. It is important for me to show up for my family the same way I would show up for AIIR. You can catch me at the soccer and football field on the weekends cheering my kids on and detaching from the social media world that sometimes feels impossible to escape! My best tip would be to put the phone down (I know it’s hard!) and just remember that work will still be there in a minute, an hour, or even the next day!
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I am actually a crystal certified healer! I have always loved and found strength in crystals (hence AIIR!) but I really wanted to take it to the next level and become official.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
1) I write down the goals & intentions I want to achieve for the day. What I need to accomplish. They aren’t far fetched so that helps build my confidence.
2) I take breaks to walk outside to keep me grounded when I lack energy.
3) I live by a strict time block like a calendar. I keep certain days for meetings, content days etc.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
Being an Entreprenista means to me chasing your dreams despite the odds. I was a hair stylist who did not go to college or know anything about being a CEO for that matter. I am self taught and proud to say that I did not let the pre-existing labels of my life stop me from chasing future goals.