Like most beauty innovations, the idea for the Bestie Blowdryer Holder originated out of an unmet need. Hair stylist Jennifer West was looking for an easy way to dry her thick, long and curly hair, as well as a solution for her grandmother who had trouble holding a blowdryer. Here, West tells the story of founding her own company and giving professionals and consumers an easier, hands-free way to dry hair.
Beauty Store Business: How did the idea for the Bestie Blow Dryer Holder come about?
Jennifer West: The idea of having something to hold a blow dryer for you while you’re drying your hair came about because I had really long, thick, curly hair and it took forever to air dry. When I had someplace to be, I often showed up with wet or half-dry hair and that was a bummer. So I’d put my blowdryer on a towel bar and prop it in place with towels so it could lightly dry my hair while I brushed my teeth and put on makeup– this way I could get ready faster and leave the house totally done.
The idea for an actual holder came about when my grandmother had a stroke and lost some coordination and mobility. She couldn’t utilize my towel bar method because it only had one position and that didn’t work for her. So I made a prototype with a fixed yet positionable base for support, a little arm so it had reach and a u-shaped holder for the blowdryer that she could maneuver for even more direction, if needed. It wasn’t perfect but it worked. I made other, similar models that my girlfriends kept stealing and using. That’s when I knew I was onto something!
It was around this time that I began to imagine how exciting it would be if I actually invented something that could revolutionize the process of blowdrying and make it easier and faster for women to get ready.
As a salon professional, did you create it with the salon stylist in mind?
Not really. I mostly made it so that the average person could blow-dry their hair faster, easier and with way better results. As for salons and stylists, I have always thought Bestie would make a great retail item that could be recommended to clients who have difficulty blow-drying at home.
I’d really like to see salons make a “blow-dry space” where clients could blow-dry their own hair after services and be able to try products available for retail. I think it would be fun for the customer, sell more retail and take the pressure off stylists prone to carpal tunnel syndrome.
How have salon pros responded to the Bestie?
Stylists get it immediately because clients tell us the number-one reason they don’t blow-dry at home is because it’s difficult to hold a dryer in one hand and a brush in the other–and it is! I’m surprised no one’s made a dance move out of this.
Beauty retailers are intrigued with the idea/concept and ask a lot of questions because they know the value of shelf space and want to make good on the investment.
Manufacturers have been interested from the beginning. In fact, Bestie Brands came about because an unnamed VP told me to go sell 20,000 units and then he’d consider licensing my patent. Well that was all I needed to hear and just the push I needed to really get things going. Funny thing is, he retired just in time to miss my call back.
How does it help consumers?
It makes it easier to blow-dry hair in less time with less hassle and with far better results. It also makes for convenient storage for the blowdryer when not in use.
How has customer feedback been?
I get a lot of “thank you” emails for addressing this problem, mostly from people who have things like arthritis, shoulder injuries and carpal tunnel. Then there are the ones from people like myself who are just basically uncoordinated and find it helpful. People are pleasantly surprised by how sturdy it is–which is great because I wanted to make something that lasts. Many ask for a suction cup mount because they don’t have the space to accommodate the wall mount and/or would prefer to have something they can take down and put up as needed. So I’m launching that solution later this year.
What do you want retailers to know about the Bestie Blow Dryer Holder?
First of all, it’s reasonably priced. Second, women really could use some help getting ready. The hair routine is often skipped because it’s the least favorite part of the process. Our hair goes in a bun or we wear it dirty for days because nobody wants to blow-dry. If they want to sell more finishing products and hot tools then they have to get women comfortable with blow-drying their hair at home. If you sell styling tools, you’ve got to make it easy and convenient to use them. We have to get people excited about getting ready. Remember when you were a teenager and you just got out of the shower and looked into the mirror and imagined the look you were going to create? I want to bring back that feeling.
Did you have aspirations to be an entrepreneur or did this happen quite by happenstance?
I did not aspire to be an entrepreneur. I just wanted to make it easier for people to blow-dry their hair. I also didn’t know it would be this hard or that it would take so long to make it happen. I actually never thought I would get this far. I’m the luckiest woman I know.
What was your first big break?
There’s been so many “big breaks” along the way. I don’t think we’d be having this interview if I’d missed any one of them. But the biggest break would have to be finding my manufacturer. She was and still is my biggest break ever.
What do you love about running your own business?
I get super excited when customers email me thanking me for making this product. The fact that I made this, it came out of my brain and wouldn’t exist if I hadn’t done something and that someone (other than myself) appreciates it enough to go out of their way to thank me–the emotion is pretty strong. I like feeling that I’ve made someone’s life a bit easier, even if it’s in the smallest way. I feel like I’m doing some good.
What new products might we see from Bestie Brands in the future?
Bestie Brands will be launching our Travel Bestie later this year. It’s so simple and easy to use! You just stick it on the mirror, pop in your dryer, blow-dry and you’re done!