Women Of The C-Suite: Janine Jarman Of Curl Cult On The Five Things You Need To Succeed As A Senior Executive
Don’t let anyone else define success for you. If you are going after someone else’s idea of what it is to be successful you will be disappointed when you get there because what brings one person joy and fulfillment won’t the next. Take me for example, I always thought doing hair for celebrities would be the height of my career success, but when I was finally in that position, I hated the hours! All I wanted was to be home with my family making dinner each night. At first, I felt like a quitter saying goodbye to my celebrity clientele but now know I need to do what fills my heart first because success looks different to everyone.
As a part of our interview series called “Women Of The C-Suite” , we had the pleasure of interviewing Janine Jarman.
Janine Jarman is founder of Curl Cult, the first ever Protein Perm and hair texture line, and Owner of Hairroin Salon in Los Angeles. A nationally renowned celebrity hair stylist, Jarman has been “hair-obsessed” for as long as she can remember. The self-proclaimed perm queen is bringing back the perm with the launch of Curl Cult in salons nationwide.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Before we dig in, our readers would like to get to know you a bit more. Can you tell us a bit about your “backstory”? What led you to this particular career path?
I began my hair journey in high school when I started doing up dos for all my friends, then their friends and eventually other schools formal dances. I turned that into a business and headed straight to beauty school as soon as I graduated high school.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
So far one of the more exciting things since the start of Curl Cult was when Debbie Ryan, a well-known actress DMed me on Instagram asking for one of my perms. I flew out to her for the perm, we captured some great before and after images that ended up going viral for us. Creating organic content like that is pure luck and it was a big win for us.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Uggggg yes! And it wasn’t funny at the time, but definitely set us up for success as a result of this stumble. Before we landed the final goods, we made testers to send out to a group of hairdressers. Because they were seasoned hairdressers and familiar with perming we had very simple instructions laid out (we also had not fully launched yet and didn’t have all our educational resources up on our site) needless to say we found that vague instructions are disastrous and that moving forward we needed to assume no one knew how to perm given the fact our perm was so different. Reading their feedback on how much they hated the perm was soul crushing. But as luck would have it they were willing to give it another go once we were fully launched and they had great success!
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
No doubt I would not be where I am today without all my generous mentors, friends and family along the way. There is one in particular that believed in Curl Cult from the start, Donna Federici. She is the person that connected me with a lab in Italy that ended up producing all my Curl Cult products. She has always pushed me to my limits and this was no exception when I told her how I dreamed of reinventing the perm and making it a staple in salons again. She is still someone I call weekly to run hard questions by, lean into for direction and contacts. And she is just one of a handful of rad humans I’m lucky enough to call on for help. It takes a village.
As you know, the United States is facing a very important self-reckoning about race, diversity, equality and inclusion. This may be obvious to you, but it will be helpful to spell this out. Can you articulate to our readers a few reasons why it is so important for a business or organization to have a diverse executive team?
So this is a tricky one especially in recent years. The beauty industry also has been called to action on this as we have not done a great job. Representation and inclusivity has to be an ethos not just an effort. You need to change your personal and company narrative to agree that growth, position and influence will be represented by a diverse community within your company. From visuals to workforce and upper management. This is an opportunity to stop and think before we hire and before we plan. For me, it’s an opportunity to cast a wider net and separate from the pack. Representing more hair types and textures is exciting and necessary. I feel proud to be part of the hair texture conversation. Making sure to ask more questions than I make assumptions. I’m here to learn and grow, not pretend to have it all figured out.
Ok, thank you for that. Let’s now jump to the primary focus of our interview. Most of our readers — in fact, most people — think they have a pretty good idea of what a CEO or executive does. But in just a few words can you explain what an executive does that is different from the responsibilities of the other leaders?
So interestingly enough I partnered with my company’s CEO Melissa Orr before we launched. I know my strengths and shortcomings, and knew as the brand representative for Curl Cult I would be stretched too thin being front and back of house. Additionally, my lack of knowledge in product sales, distribution and big brand building would hold us back. She and I divide and conquer. Most of my time is spent on face-to-face pitches, education and making and maintaining meaningful connections. I also work on all of the press opportunities, product development and collections releases and trade shows and events. Overall if you can touch it or see it I have probably worked on it to some capacity.
What are the “myths” that you would like to dispel about being a CEO or executive. Can you explain what you mean?
That we all fly first class and make a ton of money! When it’s your own startup you often still work other jobs to supplement income until your startup can afford to pay you a salary. For example, I still own a salon and work behind the chair once a week.
In your opinion, what are the biggest challenges faced by women executives that aren’t typically faced by their male counterparts?
For me, the pace in which I can work because of unforeseen needs of being a mom from having the baby to raising them. There are some days that are just a wash because one kid woke up sick. I am fortunate that my husband does help share the burden of these things and is able to also move his schedule around but there are a lot of moms that absorb the majority of these things. We really saw it in the pandemic shut down and kids’ virtual learning. Disproportionately women exited the workforce during this time to handle the kids at home. I look forward to the day that it’s not just a given that women quit their jobs first to look after kids.
What is the most striking difference between your actual job and how you thought the job would be?
The Zoom calls! And amount of time on a computer! I’m such a physical worker due to the nature of hairdressing so it has been quite an adjustment having to do Zoom meetings and fill out spreadsheets.
Is everyone cut out to be an executive? In your opinion, which specific traits increase the likelihood that a person will be a successful executive and what type of person should avoid aspiring to be an executive? Can you explain what you mean?
I can’t determine that for anyone but I do think it’s important to have a role that represents your work style and personal goals. I think it’s also important to mention that a company is like the human body, no one part more important than the next. Someone needs to be in charge and it should be someone that thrives in challenging situations, isn’t easily offended and takes the success of the company personally. Executives also tend to have a high threshold for stress!
What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why? (Please share a story or example for each.)
- Don’t let anyone else define success for you. If you are going after someone else’s idea of what it is to be successful you will be disappointed when you get there because what brings one person joy and fulfillment won’t the next. Take me for example, I always thought doing hair for celebrities would be the height of my career success, but when I was finally in that position, I hated the hours! All I wanted was to be home with my family making dinner each night. At first, I felt like a quitter saying goodbye to my celebrity clientele but now know I need to do what fills my heart first because success looks different to everyone.
- Work smarter not harder; this is something I am currently working on. I always thought it had to be painful to matter. And often I’d burn myself out trying to do too much at once.
- Put away distractions. I am so easily distracted by other important things, which I can easily argue needing my attention. The sooner you can get a strict discipline of focused work the quicker the success. I love the book “Deep Work”. It really called me out on how I was holding myself back.
- Work life balance is bull. At least for me I have let this idea of harmonious balance go. Work and life eb and flow like two rivers. Sometimes they cross and sometimes they have rapids and sometimes they are chill. It’s my job to tend to both and keep both flowing as well as have gratitude for two sources of water.
- There is no arrival. In the beginning I thought “when I do this then I will have made it” but with each passing year and with the more I learn, I never could have planned a life this big so instead I just stay curious and ready for the adventure
I work in the beauty tech industry, so I am very interested to hear your philosophy or perspective about beauty. In your role as a powerful woman and leader, how much of an emphasis do you place on your appearance? Do you see beauty as something that is superficial, or is it something that has inherent value for a leader in a public context? Can you explain what you mean?
Love this question!!!! So beauty is superficial when it is someone else’s beauty standard you are after. Finding your own beauty, be it the right cut, style, or makeup that makes you feel your best is powerful! It’s as important as the kick ass PowerPoint you have prepared. Beauty routine is also one of the best forms of self-care. Caring for our skin and hair can be a grounding ritual.
Exploring new looks is a great way to reinvent yourself. It’s no accident that any one newly pregnant, divorced, or with a recent death reaches out to their hairdresser (I think statistically we are one to the first 5–10 people). Someone that is well put together leads us to believe in what they are saying or selling.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.
This is such a big question. I think today I would love to help people celebrate texture. Be it theirs or created. I think a texture trend can be a great equalizer in the beauty industry and help bridge that gap
We are very blessed that some very prominent names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this if we tag them
Sarah Blakely. She is the GOAT. I remember feeling totally defeated and listening to her on the “How I Built This” podcast. Her words brought me to tears. She made shapewear cool. She created a category, in a male dominated industry, where most just didn’t get her vision. She stuck with it because she was solving a real problem that only a woman could truly understand. I love how honest and forthcoming she is as well as how she gives back in so many ways. How she created a category is much of what I want to do with permanent texture. I want perms to be cool and for it to be a booming service in the salon. And it’s from a very real place of leaning into natural and created texture as a more effortless and healthy option to styling your hair. Who knows maybe she will let me give her a perm!!
Thank you for these fantastic insights. We greatly appreciate the time you spent on this.