Some of your best deals are the ones you did not make. Don’t rush to do anything and trust your gut!
Carolyn Aronson is a successful entrepreneur, philanthropist and the founder, owner and CEO of It’s a 10 Haircare, one of the only female-owned professional hair care brands in the world.
A self-made entrepreneur, Aronson began her career with 20+ years as a hair stylist and salon owner, and continues to hold licenses in multiple states. It’s a 10 Haircare was born out of her frustration with brands that produced dozens of products with single benefits and hard-to-follow claims. She envisioned a line that was for everyone and delivered full, salon-quality results in just one bottle. She began with a star product, Miracle Leave-In, and the line quickly rose to fame through professional hair stylists, who shared the cult-favorite product with their clients.
Now a successful, global hair product company with a passionate celebrity and consumer following, It’s a 10 Haircare products are sold in more than 25,000 professional independent salons and 15,000 professional salon chains like Ulta, Regis and The Salons at J.C. Penney.
Carolyn’s brand has helped women and men across the globe look and feel their best, while also allowing Carolyn to pursue her key priorities: Making the world a better place, raising a successful family and creating a culture that embraces diversity. Giving back to the communities that have supported It’s a 10 Haircare is also a priority – Carolyn and her brand support and advocate for a variety of charitable causes, including Comfort Cases and Puerto Rico Hurricane Relief Efforts.
Where did the idea for It’s a 10 Haircare come from?
I began my career as a self-made hairstylist and salon owner, working my way up from sweeping hair to managing my own business. Over the course of 20 years, I touched thousands of heads of hair and would cherry pick various products to suit all the diverse hair types of my clients. At one point, I had more than a dozen different brands on my shelves! I became frustrated with these lines that produced dozens of products with single benefits and hard-to-follow claims. I envisioned a line that was for everyone and delivered full, salon-quality results in just one bottle, so I traded I my scissors for bottles and began my career in product development. I launched It’s a 10 Haircare in 2006 with one star product, Miracle Leave-In, and the line quickly rose to fame through professional hair stylists, who shared the product with their clients. The entire premise of the line is that every product offers 10 benefits in one and works on ALL hair types – No guesswork, and always instant results. I never release a product unless it’s a “10” in my book.
What does your typical day look like and how do you make it productive?
My day starts with catching up on emails in the wee hours of the morning. I make sure not to ignore people, and I stay on top of the daily interworkings of the company in all aspects.
From there I take care of my family. Once everyone is at school (I have four children), then my work day is full on! Sometimes I have business meetings throughout the day, sometimes I’m testing packaging and products and I’m debriefed by my coworkers on internal business activities.
How do you bring ideas to life?
Creating is my favorite part of my job. It starts with a vision of an end concept, and a lot of creativity. I always have that big concept first, then grow and cultivate the idea as I work with my team and the vision progresses.
What’s one trend that excites you?
Hybrid products and new technology!
What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?
Being an expert at prioritizing.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Some of your best deals are the ones you did not make. Don’t rush to do anything and trust your gut! When a deal or opportunity falls through, it usually ends up being for the best. Try to move past the disappointment and just keep your eye on the end goal. A vision and goal in the future is your biggest asset in business.
Tell us something that’s true that almost nobody agrees with you on.
Never settle. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told to just accept something as it is and work around it … but I don’t abide by this, and I don’t stop pushing on something I want until it becomes my reality. This includes everything from an innovative product formula that hasn’t been done before, to a major business decision. I bring my dreams to life.
As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?
Climb to the top of the mountain daily. People see successful entrepreneurs and say, “I want to do that.”
What most people don’t realize is that it’s not something you do, it’s something you are, every single day. The challenges and the ups and downs never go away and truthfully, the more successful you become, the more challenges you face. There are only a fraction of people willing to do what it takes to be a truly successful entrepreneur. You can never turn it off or check it off your list.
What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?
My motto has always been, “go where they don’t go.” I built my business completely organically by sampling out thousands of products to hair stylists and leveraging the power of their word of mouth to clients. I invest directly in my customers, getting the products they need into their hands to try, and have been rewarded with their passion and loyalty. We have become famous as being one of the only brands that goes above and beyond to get product into our customer’s hands, and we do it in fun, unconventional ways. For example, we gave away 100,000+ products last year in tandem with the Miss America Competition, and we launched a Hairstylist Appreciation contest that allowed more than 400,000 people to recognize their amazing hair stylists and receive product in return. It has all paid off – Today, we’re in more than 30,000 salons and 15,000 beauty supply stores, in the middle of rapid international expansion and have a nationwide arm of loyal followers with amazing hair!
What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?
Before It’s a 10, I attempted to start another hair care company and completely failed. What I learned from that experience was to never give up and that to succeed I needed to learn how to work smarter, not harder. Prioritizing and perseverance are major factors to success. Learning how to prioritize and manage your time is crucial, as well as having the perseverance to always find a way to make your goals happen. I took what I learned from that business and started It’s a 10 with my last savings, and it paid off.
What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?
I’m closely monitoring the pet care industry it’s one of the fastest growing industries in our country. People often spend more on their pets then they do themselves, and I love pets as well.
What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?
I spend about $100 every single day to treat my team to lunch. It’s something I love to do.
What is one piece of software or a web service that helps you be productive? How do you use it?
I love new technology and embrace it always. The worst thing you can do as a business owner is become archaic. What helped me most is a program that regulates our inventory. It saves me more than $80,000 per year as the alternative would be to hire an inventory specialist.
What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?
“Outliers: The Story of Success”
It’s a book that studies why certain high achievers excel at what they do, what makes them different compared to the average population.
What is your favorite quote?
“Never say never”.
• Be willing to go where no one else in your category goes. Don’t accept anything as “just the way it is” – Be relentless and be willing to be the first.
• Succeeding as an entrepreneur is not something you do, it’s something you are, every single day. The challenges and the ups and downs never go away and truthfully, the more successful you become, the more challenges you face. Climb that mountain every single day.
• Some of your best deals are the ones you did not make. Don’t rush to do anything, and trust your gut! When a deal or opportunity falls through, it usually ends up being for the best.
• Make time in the off-hours to catch up on email – It’s important to ensure relationships are maintained, and that you’re in the loop on the daily interworkings of your brand, including segments you aren’t directly managing.
• Read Outliers: The Story of Success to learn from the behaviors of high achievers.
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Carlyn runs the day-to-day publishing operation here at ideamensch and interacts with our awesome customers and entrepreneurs. She is likely editing this with a cat on her lap.