Self expression is a beautiful and powerful thing. There are many ways a person can wear their personality on their sleeve; with fashion choices and accessories, with or without make-up, with tattoos or jewelry or maybe just a really vibrant pair of shoes. In Kristen Leanne’s case, it’s coloring the $*!# out of her hair. A founder and owner of Arctic Fox Hair Color, Kristen gives men and women all over the world the power to flaunt their true colors with every shade under the sun…and then some.
Very vocal about her stance on pro-animal rights and anti-bullying, Kristen and her team have built a business and a brand identity around a positive message that satisfies both passions. Arctic Fox’s product line is entirely vegan and the company has made it a point to donate some of its proceeds to a few important causes, making this hair color brand rock star AF. (Those are some pretty epic initials, if you ask us.)
We caught up with Kristen recently because we were just DYING to hear about her hair dye horror stories, who her dream client would be (we were both shocked and elated upon reading her answer) and how she overcame being bullied herself to now being the face and force behind one of the most rapidly growing hair companies in the entire world.
[We asked Kristen to fill in the blanks.] My name is Kristen Leanne, I am one of the founders/owners of Arctic Fox Hair Color, I am also a blogger. I am 30% dreamer and 70% doer. I would describe myself as ambitious and I am most inspired by life, the opportunity to create, and my experiences. I dream of success, a more colorful world without animal testing, and I will do that by working hard to achieve the goals I’ve set for myself and my company and continuing to encourage others to freely express themselves.
Dreamers & Doers: What first attracted you to dying your hair? When did you first take the plunge with a dramatic change in color?
Kristen: What first attracted me to the idea of having colored hair was that I have always loved bright colors and no one else in school had colored hair. I colored my hair for the first time when I was a freshman in high school. I did this with Kool-Aid. It didn’t work out so well… I knew nothing about hair color! I eventually went to Sally’s and bought actual hair color.
DD: Can you share any horror stories or malfunctions you’ve had when experimenting with dying yours or someone else’s hair?
K: The horror stories/malfunctions that come along with hair color are typically always the same. The degree of how BAD it is is what always changes! I’ve had too many to count honestly, but I learned from each mistake! Haha. One time a stylist offered to color my hair and my extensions. This was an IMPORTANT appointment because I was going to be in a Green Day (song “Oh Love”) music video the next day. There was no time to fix any mistakes. Well…for starters I could color better than he did. He did a horrible job on my extensions, they were splotchy and awful. The color was WAY darker than I had asked for. It was awful. Needless to say I never went back.
DD: Who would be a dream client of yours? If you could dye anyone’s hair, who would it be and what color(s) would you like to see them try?
K: I don’t color too many people’s hair, but if I had the opportunity to color anyone’s hair, I think it would be Taylor Swift. Wouldn’t she look just amazing with some light pink locks?!
DD: Aside from Arctic Fox, what are some of your other passions?
K: Aside from Arctic Fox, some of my other passions include animals, makeup, painting, traveling, good wine and vacationing!
DD: What advice would you give to a young entrepreneur?
K: The best advice I could give to a young entrepreneur comes in a few pieces. Firstly, you can do anything you put your mind to. Nothing is impossible. Never give up. Don’t be afraid to re-think things and change your tactics. Find what’s working and what isn’t. Keep your finger on the pulse of whatever industry it is that you’re creating in. Also, you’re going to fail. Don’t be afraid to fail. I failed at about five businesses before Arctic Fox Hair Color. Learn from each and every endeavor so you can do better and better each and every try. Lastly, networking is your best friend. Get good at it, you’re gonna need it!
DD: What was the deciding factor to create your own product line?
K: I created Arctic Fox Hair Color because there was a handful of things I did NOT like about other color lines I was using. The last straw was being at the gym and having a purple neck. I was over it.
DD: How difficult has it been keeping your products vegan and cruelty-free?
K: It hasn’t been difficult at all to keep our products vegan and cruelty-free. There are plenty of resources out there to make good quality vegan and cruelty-free products. It just depends what’s important to you, and what you consider easy or difficult. Caring about animals is something that will never change for me. This is one reason we do not sell in China.
DD: Can you talk a bit about the charities you support and how rewarding it is to be able to donate a percentage of your profits to help prevent animal abuse?
K: We donate to three different charities at the moment. Two are domestic and one is international. International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Second Chance Animal Shelter and Farm Sanctuary. It’s extremely rewarding to be able to donate 15% of our profits to these organizations. Recently we visited Farm Sanctuary and they were SO excited to work with us. I am just so grateful for our supporters and customers. They make this all possible. Without them, we wouldn’t be able to help all of these animals. It’s amazing, and it’s a very humbling experience.
DD: What are your future ambitions for Arctic Fox? Do you have any specific goals for the future?
K: We have many new items and colors in the works here at Arctic Fox. I’m excited to get them out there. The process of creating them is also pretty fun and interesting. We want to continue to grow the product line and continue to make high-quality vegan and cruelty-free products.
DD: As a business owner and entrepreneur, what have been some of your proudest and most gratifying moments?
K: There have been so many gratifying moments during my career. Two specific moments stand out for me. One is the moment I was able to hand over a $10,000 check to Farm Sanctuary. That was one of my most favorite moments. The second would have to be the amazing support I/we receive from my fan base and our customers. It’s a great feeling to see your customers truly love products you’ve poured your heart and soul into. It’s also really cool to meet a complete stranger who has heard of your brand! That feeling is also pretty unreal!
DD: Has anything surprised you about the community that has rallied around and supported your products?
K: We’re overwhelmed and excited about the amount of support Arctic Fox has received in such a short period, and how quickly our family of Foxers has grown! They’ve been involved in our entire process, from choosing new colors to helping us naming them!
DD: Is there a certain person, place, or thing you look to for inspiration?
K: I take inspiration from all over the place. Inspiration finds me in the most peculiar of places. Life’s an adventure and if you’re open to it, you’ll see inspiration in everything. Sometimes you just have to look at things a little differently, and bam, there it is.
DD: It’s empowering to see someone like yourself launching a company and becoming your own boss. What has that journey been like for you?
K: Becoming my own boss has been quite the journey! A journey that never really ends, but I’d never have it any other way. I moved out when I was 16. I worked full time at a pet store. Then I became a waitress and a bartender. Now I make my own schedule and I get to do what I love every single day. I am just beyond thankful to have the opportunity. I live by this quote by Lucille Ball: “Luck? I don’t know anything about luck. I’ve never banked on it and I’m afraid of people who do. Luck to me is something else: Hard work — and realizing what is opportunity and what isn’t.”
DD: It’s obvious that self expression is extremely important to you. How has this had an impact on your pursuit of helping others express themselves?
K: I went through a lot of teasing in school. I tried to conform to what I thought would make me “cool”. The kids who made fun of me just found something new to make fun of me for. From that point on, I realized that other people’s approval isn’t what makes one truly happy, it’s being able to express yourself and being able to feel comfortable in your own skin that makes you happy. I never want anyone to feel like they need to conform to what society deems as perfect or beautiful. Life is much too short for that. I want everyone to find the confidence in themselves to express themselves however they wish. I think going through some torment in school really impacted my choice to try my best to inspire others to practice and master the art of self-expression.
DD: If you weren’t the brains behind Arctic Fox, what else would you be doing for a living?
K: If I weren’t involved with Arctic Fox, I’d definitely own some other business. Most likely something in the wellness/beauty industry. I’d also still have my YouTube channel as well. I just love business. It would be in my life in one way or another!
Kristen and Tiff recently got together to collaborate on two separate challenge videos! The No Thumbs Challenge Hair Edition:
AND The Metallic Liquid Lipstick Challenge: