We're excited to share some of our favorite brands and the stories behind the founders. Kailey Bradt is the Founder and CEO of OWA Haircare, Earth's first water-activated shampoo. We sat down with Sephora Accelerate 2020 awardee to discuss the future of haircare and female entrepreneurship.
What's your story?
What's your story?
I was always creative, but not in the traditional sense- I can't draw, paint, sew, etc. I need to be creative in my work. It wasn't until I took my first chemistry class that I found through my strengths of math & science I could apply those creatively. I instantly fell in love with the idea of creating a sustainable (another passion of mine) cosmetics brand. Fast forward 10 years and I got a BS in Chemical Engineering, an MS in Product Development and finally launched OWA.
How did you come up with the idea for OWA?
Quite simply, I was frustrated stuffing all my liquid products into a tiny ziplock bag while packing for a trip. My haircare took up the most space and it was always what depleted the most quickly. I started researching alternatives to liquid shampoo and discovered shampoo is 80% water on average. My mind was blown. I started digging into formulations for conditioners (80% or more water), hair masks (70% or more water) and even hair gel (95% water in some cases). I couldn't stop thinking about it and knew I had to take action.
Moondust is such a cool concept. What inspired the name?
Really the whole idea behind OWA is to think more than "out of the box." I want to think "out of this world." What's next? I don't mean tomorrow, I mean in 20 years? How do we bring that idea of how we will be living in the future into today's time? Why can't it exist now? With the Moondust Collection, it was our way of communicating to our users that this idea didn't come from this planet. We brought them something they've never experienced before. Because of this, the name couldn't relate to anything you'd find on Earth.
What is your approach to product development?
There is a common saying that it is never really about what you want but what the people want. That really holds true in product development. I always ask myself questions like: What is the problem this product is trying to solve? What is the primary function? What is most important for the consumer? What do they want? How will they use it? I design and develop products based on those answers and constraints. It's an art and a science at the same time.
What does a typical day look like for you as a beauty entrepreneur?
A "typical day" is not a thing. Each and every day is different. Each day brings a new challenge and each day brings something new to get excited about. When you're starting something on your own, there is no one giving direction, so you have to have the drive to make happen what needs to happen whether it's a task you enjoy or not.
Do you have any advice for aspiring founders?
Know why you're doing what you're doing. The why is what drives you. There will be the most exciting days of your life and the absolute most extreme challenges you cannot even imagine. You need the why to give you purpose and resilience to see your mission through to the end. I don't question why I'm doing what I do, no matter what I'm faced with. I wouldn't change what I'm doing for anything.