Career Diaries: Lindsay Holden, Co-Founder of Odele Beauty, Shares How She Shook Up the Beauty Industry
Lindsay Holden founded clean beauty brand, Odele Beauty with one thing in mind — to prove that taking care of your hair is just as important as maintaining a consistent skincare routine. Ahead, Holden shares what ‘clean’ hair care really means, her personal routine and advice for aspiring beauty entrepreneurs.
What’s your career background and how did you get started in the beauty industry?
My background has been in sales, marketing and merchandising. I’m a wired problem solver with an entrepreneurial spirit and have always loved the unknown. The path I could not quite define was always the one I wanted to take vs. pursuing the one where things were so clearly laid out.
Britta [Chatterjee, one of our other co-founders] and I met in graduate school, when we were placed on a project together, realized our compatibility, and started dreaming up ways in which we could go into business for ourselves. Not quite ready to take the leap post-graduate degree, I headed to Target and kicked off my career as a merchant within the home category. I loved the balance of art and science, building a business and having the ability to react to the impact of said business decisions in real-time. However, eight years and three kids later, it was time to move on. I left my career with the need to spend more time feeling present with my kids, but I didn’t have a plan.
Britta and I had kept up our conversation over the years, at one time attempting to start a baby gear company. When her career led her to beauty consulting, a move which in turn led her to meet Shannon [Kearney, our third partner], we started to look at hair care specifically. I’m a huge proponent of crazy good doesn’t equate to crazy expensive; I had built a career maximizing value for the consumer, so I wanted to address that specifically in hair.
What is the concept behind Odele Beauty?
The name Odele the is the phonetic translation of “å dele”, which means ‘to share’ in Norwegian, and our products are enabled to do just that. The gender-neutral fragrance, generous size, accessible price point and derm-testing was developed based on hair type and texture, not gender, age or any other measure.
We wanted something in a category that we just couldn’t seem to find, despite there being so many products out there. We didn’t understand why there wasn’t a high-quality, clean, premium formula that didn’t break the bank (read: where we wouldn’t be angry with our partner or kid when they squirted out one-eighth the bottle for their morning shampoo). We also felt strongly that great design and quality should be available at diverse price points and believe that the consumer is on the lookout for that at mass. We believed that if we could create a premium, safe product at an affordable price, we'd disrupt beauty shelves.
What makes Odele Beauty a clean beauty brand?
For us, [clean beauty] means meeting leading industry clean standards while focusing on using the best ingredients — both natural and synthetic — that work together to support the integrity of the effectiveness of our formulations. Our focus is on making products that work, and I always say the proof is in the goop. While I think the US is lagging in a clear definition of clean, there are so many great efforts out there to define it. We look to the EU, progressive retailer definitions and now, a few newer companies who are making great strides to bring transparency to the market to inform our definition. We also know this is an evolving space, so we continue to monitor and keep doing the next best thing as it relates to our definition of clean. Our ‘no’ list is long; we do not use ingredients shown or suspected to be harmful or disruptive to human health.
Odele is also cruelty-free, sulfate-free, dermatologist-tested, EU ingredient compliant and crafted with 100 percent natural fragrances. We developed Odele to be inclusive and that means safe for use by the whole family. We wouldn’t put anything in our products that we wouldn’t use on our own children.
Tell us about your hair-care routine.
I wash my hair two or three times a week. Our Volumizing Shampoo and Conditioner are my go-tos, and I love the Clarifying Shampoo for that deep weekly clean. The majority of the time, I typically air dry my hair. I use a bit of Leave-In Conditioner to help comb through any tangles out of the shower, and when my hair is two-thirds dry, I use the Air Dry Styler to coax out a little texture. If my plans involve dinner out, I’ll blow dry and/or if I’m starting with dry hair, I’ll give my hair a little bend with a curling iron and add some dry shampoo for some extra volume and texture.
What's one Odele product you don't go a day without?
The Leave-In Conditioner! It’s so good for thirsty locks in the winter, amazing for those with curls and not too heavy for finer hair as well. It works wonders in my kids’ hair, allowing for gentle brushing. I can’t wait for the bulk size in this product, but shhhh! You didn’t hear that from me.
How has working on Odele Beauty impacted your life?
I think my partners and I would all have different answers to this, but we would agree that we wanted to take our careers into our own hands. We wanted to have more control over our own paths, create our own opportunities, and we believed we could do it and do it well.
I often equate starting a company like having another child; it’s a given that you’re going to give that kid, that company, everything within your ability to ensure it survives and thrives. It’s an incredible effort and can be thankless at times, but it’s never one you doubt is worth the effort. Putting your product out in the world is a very vulnerable feeling; seeing it accepted, embraced, shared and celebrated by those who discover it makes me most proud.
Our collective careers have been spent working incredibly hard for others and it was time to do the same for ourselves. While starting and running a company is an incredible amount of work, to me, it doesn’t feel like work — and that has been the biggest surprise.
What does the future of Odele Beauty look like to you?
So many things! We’re still relatively new and unknown—we’ll celebrate our second birthday later this month! Discovery of our brand is still happening on a daily basis, but my hope is that Odele grows to become a household name.
What's your advice for an aspiring beauty or skincare entrepreneur?
Stay curious and just start — think progress over perfection. You’ll learn so much more along the way and there is no such thing as perfect.
What does beauty mean to you?
Beauty is everywhere, and how we experience it is unique to all of us. For people, I think it’s about how you feel and that comes from within.i If you feel good, you look good.
Photo: Courtesy of Odele Beauty