Breaking Into Beauty: Leyla Milani, Founder of HAIRtamin

Anyone who works in beauty will tell you that it’s a fun, inspiring place, full of creative ideas (and the occasional free sample!), but exactly how do you break into the beauty industry? In this series, we’ll be chatting with beauty industry insiders to find out what their jobs involve and the paths they took to get where they are now.

From makeup artists and beauty editors to social media assistants, brand founders, and web developers – these stories are proof that you can enter the beauty industry via any career path.

Meet Leyla Milani, Founder Of HAIRtamin

What did you want to be when you were younger? 

I wanted to be an inventor. Didn’t know exactly what, I just knew that I wanted to fill a need and create something special.

What attracted you to the beauty industry? 

I was a tomboy growing up. It wasn’t until I reached my late teens when I discovered the transformative power of makeup and hair. I was always a very creative person and experimenting with different makeup and hair looks became my passion. I knew I would be an entrepreneur and eventually found my way into the beauty space.

What did you study and how did this guide your current role/how do you use the skills from your degree in your job? 

I actually went to school for fashion design and marketing, and launched my own denim and outerwear line in my early 20s. Fashion was my first love but I eventually walked away from that business to pursue acting, hosting and modelling in the entertainment industry. 

Creativity has always been in me but the marketing aspect is what I do daily. You could have the best, most beautiful and effective product on the market, but if people don’t know about it or understand it, you have nothing. 

What path did your career take after graduation? 

After graduation, I launched my own denim and outerwear line called: Leyla Couture. I learnt a lot in that business and eventually found myself losing the passion I once had for it. Being in my early 20s and living in Los Angeles, you sort of find yourself thrown into the entertainment industry. I was young, fearless, ambitious and totally ready for a change. 

I fell in love with the fast-paced, creative world of the industry and how each day was so different than the other day. With one job your life could completely change and that was exciting to me. I met so many incredible people, from celebrities to the creatives behind the scenes. 

Some of my career highlights include finishing 2nd place out of 8000 girls in the WWE Diva Search contest; appearing as Briefcase Model #13 on the NBC gameshow Deal Or No Deal for five seasons with Howie Mandel; meeting Oprah Winfrey, and acting alongside James Caan and Josh Duhamel on the TV show: Las Vegas. After Deal Or No Deal ended, I found my own hair brand: Leyla Milani Hair and eventually HAIRtamin.

What skills and experience do you need to succeed as a brand founder?

I think it’s more about your character traits than skills when it comes to being a successful entrepreneur. We live in a time where information is literally at our fingertips and with social media and we have access to almost anyone in the world. 

You don’t necessarily need traditional industry experience, but you do need passion, discipline and courage When you have those three traits, you can literally do anything!  

As women continue to break barriers and launch their own brands, we see more often than not, it’s the person’s sheer courage, passion and continuous efforts that assures her success. At the end of the day, you can hire talented people who are great in their field but as an entrepreneur you can’t be afraid to fail and not many people possess that confidence. 

What does your day-to-day entail? 

I wake up at 6am, get my two kids (aged three and seven) ready for school, arrive to the office by about 9am, and meet with my team. I lunch with my hubby around noon then go back to work at the office or go to meetings. 

I try to get a quick workout in, pick up my kids from school and have dinner with the family by 5pm or 6pm. I’m usually in bed by 10pm if we don’t have a social or charity event.

What are some common misconceptions people have about your job? 

That my husband is responsible for my success. As much as I value and respect him, my career success is from my hard work and dedication. People also assume that if you have help with your children or your job, that you don’t do any of the work yourself. I find that highly offensive and hurtful. 

At the end of the day, you and only you are responsible for your own happiness and success; while you have incredible people around you that help you on your journey, you are the one taking all the risk and reaping the eventual the rewards too.

What is the best part of your job? 

Creating! From developing new formulas to brainstorming our next marketing campaign with my team to packaging design to Instagram content. You name it, I love the whole process! 

What has been the most surreal moment of your career so far? 

When complete strangers come up to me or message me saying how HAIRtamin has transformed their hair and their life! I read every single DM, comment and email that is sent to me and some of the stories people share with me is so incredibly heart-warming. 

From women who have gone through chemo, to stressed out moms and students to women who have damaged their hair for years and are seeing truly remarkable results after using HAIRtamin. This is what drives me every single day to do better and create products to make women look and feel their most beautiful.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to be a brand founder? 

It is so important to do something you’re passionate about because once the initial excitement and allure of starting your own brand wears off and the hard work begins, you need something that you’re truly passionate about to keep you going. Don’t start something just to make money or because everyone is in the space. You will be unique and special and successful when you do it from your heart and sheer passion. 

My other advice is to NOT listen to naysayers or those that try to bring you down or tell you your idea isn’t good enough. Remember, just because it hasn’t been done or others are already doing it, doesn’t mean YOU can’t do it or do it better!

What deskside essentials are vital to you doing your job? 

My iPhone, my iPhone charger, a lip balm, hair scrunchy, my cup of organic Earl Grey tea with manuka honey.

What’s your top piece of beauty advice? 

Don’t brush your hair when it’s wet. Hair is at its weakest when it’s wet and even the most gentle brush can damage your hair when it’s wet. I always use a wide tooth comb in the shower and my Leyla Milani Miracle Brush when it’s dry to detangle and add body and shine.

What are your favourite BEAUTY BAY products? 

Anastasia Beverly Hills Contour Kit (It’s a classic and started my love for contouring) and the Dipbrow Pomade in Medium Brown, Lilly Lashes in Hollywood and Miami.