Nobody is going to give more of their all than you. It takes you showing up every day and leading by example in a positive, caring, calming perspective. How you show up to others really shows a lot about you and your brand. Take the time to listen and hear others out, be present and take time out of your day specifically to give your team positive acknowledgment.
As a part of my series about strong female leaders, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jennifer Albert of JA Studios NYC. Jennifer is the go-to in NYC, Atlanta and Chicago for custom hair extensions, cuts, color and balayage. Known for her expertise and rejuvenating transformations, Albert is renowned for her ability to individualize looks for her clients. As a seasoned veteran in the beauty industry, Albert has spent the majority of her career in top salons across the country. At Frederic Fekkai on 5th Avenue in New York City, she built her career in the city of dreams alongside her highly talented and innovative peers. Her nationwide demand has allowed her to cater to VIP, celebrity clients in Atlanta, Chicago and NYC. At JA Studios in SoHo Manhattan, she has collaborated with other artists, and hosted pop-ups with local establishments. As a community for solo stylists, artists and creatives to express themselves in a customized space, JA Studios is the modern-day space for independent stylists and artists. Outside of the studio, Albert has developed a budding organic beauty line inspired by her creative surroundings at her beach house in Santa Rosa, Florida, with products ranging from handcrafted body scrubs, Himalayan bath salts to stimulating essential oils. Albert’s magnetic energy, positive attitude and seamless execution have cultivated the welcoming atmospheres at JA Studios that are filled with creative expression, inspiration and gratitude for her loyal clients and creative colleagues.
Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
From childhood I’ve hand my hands in hair, in college (ISU) I was the go-to for my friends getting ready for a night out, the beauty industry had always been an expression of creative outlet.
A close friend of mine passed away while I was studying at ISU, and her passing made me realize how fast things can change in your life, and how short life can be. From that point, I wanted to focus on what I was passionate about, and how I could make a difference in people’s lives. The inspiration of providing people with feeling good about themselves and feeling heard and understood, allowed me to create relationships with my clients, and colleagues. My passion for knowledge, and the desire to strengthen my craft as a hairstylist, inspired me to leave my small town and move to Chicago, where I was then scouted and recruited to be a head stylist at Frederick Fekkai Fifth Avenue in New York City.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?
After I made the decision to go out on my own and build my own brand, I was approached with the opportunity to be the project manager for a small build out concept. During the process of working with the contractors and artist, and going through the process of launching a business in NYC, I came to realize that my talents as a creative went beyond working behind the chair, and that I was also a visionary with the ability to create, design and construct spaces and bring them to life.
Soon after, I decided to do research in other salon businesses in the NYC area, I saw a grey area in the market that wasn’t available for my industry — a platform for creative entrepreneurs to express themselves. Everything came full circle once I took the leap to step out on my own and make my dreams a reality. When I first started working on my brand I was given the opportunity to merge with someone and they would handle the business side and I would handle the visionary, but I realized that once I came out of the corporate salon setting of essentially being boxed in, I realized I have a lot of business and entrepreneurial traits and I wasn’t just the visionary. I learnt a lot from Fredrik of Fredrik Fekkai, as he had his own product line and built this business from the ground up. I was the last generation at the company to watch him grow his brand before he sold it off. I naturally picked up on his entrepreneurial traits which has assisted tremendously in my entrepreneurship. Another exciting aspect about starting my own company was learning that I really enjoy the project management aspect of starting a business, from finding the space, to building the concept, working with the contractors, the design. Also, the type of people I started meeting, the individuals the company started to attract. It brought like-minded people who wanted to use their talents to give back in artists communities.
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?
I was having my product tubes delivered to my beach home in Florida where I store the JA Essence Beauty products, I remember seeing a semi-truck come up in the driveway and saw about 10ft by 7ft boxes and was super confused because I didn’t realize how big these boxes would be, I thought they would be small little boxes. I remember it started to rain and all these boxes were getting soaking wet, so I had big tarps out trying to cover them. I quickly learned the delivery process for products of this quantity, and to always ask questions if you’re not sure of something! To this day I still laugh at that moment!
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
My company is a lifestyle brand that acts as a platform for a community of like-minded entrepreneurs, individual artists and brands who are looking to collaborate, grow and expand in the beauty & wellness industries. Everyone supports each other in giving back to the community and spreading knowledge in a holistic and environmentally conscious way. Like WeWork, my focus is to provide a platform for creative experts to have a place to grow both individually and together while combining networks and applying their skills to collaborate.
Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?
The project of growing the JA Studios brand will help in giving start-up companies a platform and a voice for opportunities. It will also allow small brands to create an artist networking community, bringing like-minded individuals together to educate, support and inspire each other. JA Studios provides freedom to experts and veterans in their trade who would like more balance in their life or opportunities to grow their brands where they have been previously restricted being in other salons or offices.
What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?
Feeling comfortable with communication, and not taking things people say or not do too personally. Spend time and energy into focusing on what is best for the group, and their needs from you. Attend events & organizations that offer support for obtaining everyone’s goals. We need leaders who educate others and share with others. Bring that good and kindness into the world.
What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?
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?
Barbara Picower is my inspiration and my mentor. The foundation that she put together from the ground up is very amicable, she has consistently led by example as she is still the President of her company to this day. Her whole foundation is based on leaving ripple effects in this world. Very amazing woman.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
Human beings want to feel needed, heard and acknowledged. I believe I have brought success to the world as my brand allows me to be a mentor and allows me to give opportunities to small businesses and entrepreneurs. I can use JA Studios as platform for events, trunk shows and network opportunities. I also focus on my natural organic skincare line that is 100% organic, sustainable and environmentally friendly there are no chemicals, and assist in providing a holistic approach to your life. Without the JA Studios platform, I wouldn’t have the opportunity to offer these products.
What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned From My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Genius is not enough, it takes courage to change people’s hearts”. For me that is relevant because I started as a hair stylist behind the chair, I decided to take a stand and build a lifestyle brand to create a platform for independent businesses and artists who want to strengthen themselves. For those who want a full balanced life, for those who want to educate others, those who want to create organic products for the consumers to allow for a cleaner, safer environment. We need leaders who educate others and share with others or bring joy in someone’s life. Bring that good and kindness into the world.
Some of the biggest 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 🙂
Oprah Winfrey, for her message I completely relate to. I am really inspired by the fact that she has pathed her way through life through a place of purpose and passion to give others opportunities and perspective. She is encouraging and uplifting in such a way that she shows such support to entrepreneurs, to women, to those who believe in the greater good of creating a ripple effect in this lifetime. She is what I believe is a healing activist. I would love to hear what she has to say to me and in general.