When possible, wait to blow dry your hair. I have never been able to air dry my hair and have it look normal — I always need to incorporate a blow dryer after a traditional in-shower shampoo. The years of heat on my hair was causing frizz, dryness and ultimately some serious split ends. I realized that if I let my hair sit until it was about 80% dry and then added the blow dryer at the last minute, I was able to achieve the same results with much less heat exposure. In addition, I found that my hair was much, much easier to style when I started drying it this way. I used to flatiron my whole head, but when I do a late-stage blow dry, I just need to smooth out the top with a straightener (if at all). It’s a bit more time consuming overall, but you can do your makeup, things around the house you’ve been avoiding all quarantine, etc. while you air dry. It is totally worth it!
As a part of our series about “Five Things Anyone Can Do To Have Fabulous Hair”, I had the pleasure of interviewing Carrie Sporer. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with Bachelors’ Degrees in both Economics and Communications. Prior to launching SWAIR, she held positions as the Director of Sales at Judith Leiber, VP of Sales and Operations at Edie Parker, and launched her own sales and operations consultancy. In addition to a genuine passion for ideating and creating innovative products, Carrie enjoys dance parties with her two sons, running with her “morning crew” before the sun comes up, and stress-baking.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Before we dive in, our readers would love to learn a bit more about you. Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I have always been very particular about my hair and hair products, and as an avid runner it made me crazy that I had to wash my hair every single time I went for a run. I tried dozens of dry shampoos and blow dry sprays, but I couldn’t find a solution that made my hair look great while also being an effective time saver. After speaking to some friends that also worked out frequently, I realized that other people had the same lament. I decided to take matters into my own hands and along with co-founder Meredith Krill, developed a product that cleans your hair without requiring a full blow dry afterwards.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
It’s been incredibly interesting launching a brand during COVID-19. There are a lot of challenges as well as silver linings. For example, we had extremely long lead times for our bottles and sprayers for Showerless Shampoo since these packaging items were prioritized for sanitizers and surface sprays. On the flip side, we were able to work with incredible designers for our brand assets — normally these people would have been out of our price range, but everyone was willing to be more flexible given the world situation.
Are you able to identify a “tipping point” in your career when you started to see success? Did you start doing anything different? Are there takeaways or lessons that others can learn from that?
When we sent out product samples to beauty editors and received incredibly positive feedback, I knew we were onto something. These men and women get to try thousands of new products a year, so the fact that they enjoyed using Showerless Shampoo was especially meaningful. When we were trying the product internally, and even when we sent it to a focus group, it was always nice to know that people were getting good results, but hearing it from the editors was next-level.
In your experience what were the most effective ways for your business to generate leads and sales? Can you share a story or give an example?
I spent a majority of my career in wholesale before launching SWAIR. First, I have found that creating brand “moments” is really important. When you create buzz, the customer or retailer requests are inbound, and the likelihood of closing the sale is much, much higher. When you have to pitch a client and then follow up, the time involved and the response rate can be very challenging. On the other hand, having a newsworthy event, creating a truly innovative product, or receiving accolades within your industry can attract potential customers. For example, with SWAIR’s Showerless Shampoo we are introducing a product that is brand new to the market. By approaching editors and social media with the headlines such as “revolutionary” and “game-changing” we have gotten a great response because everyone is eager to report on something that has never been done before.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person to whom you are grateful who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Having great mentors is incredibly important for professional and personal growth. When I was at Judith Leiber early in my career, the then Vice President of Sales, Lela Katsune, (and now President) took me under her wing. She scaffolded my skill set by incrementally giving me more responsibilities — I never felt bored or stuck. She was also incredibly generous with her time, allowing me to literally look over her shoulder as she worked so that I could learn more. One time, I was supposed to visit a client but unfortunately had to cancel at the last minute to go to a funeral. When the client blatantly told me they didn’t agree with my choice, Lela had my back and told me not to worry because “we don’t do business with a**holes.” I have repeated that phrase to myself many times over the years, and it has always served me well.
Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?
Oh man! I cringe looking back at this story. I was travelling internationally with expensive merchandise that had been pre-registered with customs because of the high commercial value. I took a cab from Manhattan to JFK only to realize that the required paperwork was sitting on my desk back at the office. A co-worker had to jump in another cab and bring me the folder, and I was literally running to baggage check to get it on the plane in time. Lesson learned! Now I always make lists of important documents or samples required for a trip, and most importantly, I triple check it before heading out the door. There is no such thing as too organized!
You have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?
I know it’s cliche, but they say an overnight success takes years! I think many people starting out see someone successful and think they got it right on their first try. Many entrepreneurs find success after many failed attempts at business. We only hear about the ideas that work out and make them wealthy and well- known. I have found it inspiring to listen to podcasts such as “How I Built This” and “Second Life” where entrepreneurs are transparent about the struggles they encountered before “making it.”
Ok super. Let’s now shift to the main part of our discussion. Can you please share “Five Things Anyone Can Do To Have Fabulous Hair”. Please share a story or an example, for each.
1. Use SWAIR’s Showerless Shampoo! While I am obviously going to promote my own product, there are so many benefits of using Showerless Shampoo. The product is made from clean ingredients, saves water, and can be used on any hair type, including chemically-treated hair and extensions. The main benefit, however, is that Showerless Shampoo saves so much time off of your getting ready routine. You spray dirty or sweaty hair with Showerless Shampoo, do a thorough towel dry, blow dry or air dry to get rid of excess moisture, and then style as usual. We recently had a new mom write to us that she was so busy getting her newborn daughter fed and ready for their first family photo shoot, that she didn’t have time to shower. She had Showerless Shampoo on hand and used it for the first time. She was thrilled with the results and most importantly, felt confident at the photo shoot.
2. When possible, wait to blow dry your hair. I have never been able to air dry my hair and have it look normal — I always need to incorporate a blow dryer after a traditional in-shower shampoo. The years of heat on my hair was causing frizz, dryness and ultimately some serious split ends. I realized that if I let my hair sit until it was about 80% dry and then added the blow dryer at the last minute, I was able to achieve the same results with much less heat exposure. In addition, I found that my hair was much, much easier to style when I started drying it this way. I used to flatiron my whole head, but when I do a late-stage blow dry, I just need to smooth out the top with a straightener (if at all). It’s a bit more time consuming overall, but you can do your makeup, things around the house you’ve been avoiding all quarantine, etc. while you air dry. It is totally worth it!
3. Master one ‘do. It is so important for everyone to have a go-to hairdo that they can do themselves. I am not talking about your everyday hairstyle — I mean something special for when you are wearing fancy shoes or have your nice undies on. Sometimes you need to whip out this style if you are a (socially-distanced) wedding guest, need to look ultra-chic for a Zoom meeting, or simply want a little pick me up. For me, the hairdo I mastered was beach waves. It is great to know that I have this look in my back pocket and don’t need to spend on a blowout for a special occasion. We are lucky enough to live in the age of Youtube tutorials so with some practice, anyone should be able to get one solid style in their repertoire.
4. Invest in the right tools. As mentioned before, I am not one of those blessed people with naturally amazing hair. I have found that the right tools can make every day a good hair day though. I splurged for the Dyson Supersonic hair dryer when it first came out in 2016, and four years later it is still going strong without any issues. I love that it makes less noise than a traditional dryer so I can hear my kids yelling “Mommmmm” from the next room, and there is definitely less frizz in the finished product. While this purchase was not cheap and required some real consideration, my go-to curling iron is a 1” barrel Conair model that was less than 20 dollars. Good tools don’t necessarily equate to expensive tools. You just need to experiment and see what works best for your hair and what you’re most comfortable using. For example, my sister swears by the cone-shaped irons that require you to use your hands to wrap the hair around the cone — but I was never able to get it right. We can both get the same awesome waves, but prefer to use different tools.
5. Don’t be afraid to make a change. I know that some people agonize over trimming their hair one millimeter, but I feel so strongly that people should have fun with their hair and take risks. Here’s the great thing about hair: it grows back. Not only that, but if you take a risk with color, you can always change it again if you fall out of love with it. Always thought about being blonde? Go for it! Damaged hair? Get a pixie cut! As soon as my salon in NYC reopened after the initial quarantine, I immediately made an appointment to chop off a few inches, get some layers and amp up my highlights. After being mostly indoors for three months and feeling quite depressed, reviving my hair helped me feel like myself again.
Can you share 3 ideas that anyone can use “to feel beautiful”? (Please share a story or example for each.)
I love this question — it is really hard to feel beautiful mid-pandemic. We are dressing down, forgoing makeup, and get to focus on finding beauty from the inside out.
- Find beauty in being yourself. We’re making more decisions about our makeup, hair and clothing based on what makes us feel beautiful and comfortable, and not what we think other people would like or expect. As we all start to slowly get back to normal life, I think it’s important to remember that lesson. What do we want to look like for me?
- This might sound random, but hydrate! Not only is great for your skin and body, but drinking enough water helps every single part of you function better. My business partner Meredith can attest to the fact that I recently started carrying around a half-gallon bottle that I sip throughout the day. I never realized how dehydrated I was until I actually started hydrating properly. I have a better complexion, stronger nails, more energy during workouts, and am less likely to “crash” in the late afternoon while working.
- Connect with a past version of yourself. Let’s face it, adulting is not always (or ever) glamorous. Sometimes I think back to when I was younger, and dare I say edgy? I was into non-mainstream music, bought jeans off of vintage racks, and had a wit so sharp it could cut glass. Sometimes I miss young Carrie, so the other day when I was driving home from the beach and everyone in the car had fallen asleep, I put on my favorite Sublime album from the 90’s. I sang my way down the Van Wyck Expressway back to Manhattan with a huge smile on my face. It was a beautiful moment and put me in a great mood for the rest of the day.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I am a true believer in the little things. There are 7.5 billion people on this planet, and if everyone engaged in a conscious act of kindness everyday, that would really add up. It doesn’t have to be anything time consuming or costly — just a small effort like checking in with a friend, offering to do an errand for a busy spouse, or simply holding the door for a stranger can all create a ripple effect out in the world. It requires minimal effort and no money, so go out there and make someone’s day better.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
In business, I live by the motto “fail fast.” It is important to experiment and try new things, and it is 100% okay for those things not to work out the way you had hoped. What is important though, is to be receptive to the feedback and don’t ignore the data. If your plan isn’t working, you need to adapt or move on — don’t stick with it just to be “right.” That will prove to be an excellent way to waste time and money.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this. 🙂
Unilever Ventures is definitely a business I would love to become acquainted with. They have made funding in some of the most interesting personal care and beauty businesses in the market. In particular, Rachel Harris is a powerhouse there. She has incredible experience with beauty brands. I’d love a virtual coffee with her!
How can our readers follow you online?
Follow us on Instagram @swairhair and they can always reach me directly at [email protected]
Thank you so much for this. This was very inspirational, and we wish you only continued success!