Welcome to Beauty Boss, a reoccurring series in which we spotlight the power players driving the beauty world forward. Consider this your chance to steal their get-ahead secrets, and grow from the real-life lessons they’ve learned on the job.
IGK founders Leo Izquierdo, Franck Izquierdo, Aaron Grenia and Chase Kusero began as stylists with salons in NY, LA and Miami, and came together to create a line of products inspired by the cities that has become an overnight success. Below, we drill the boys on how IGK came to be.
How did you fall into the beauty space?
Leo: My whole family was, and still is, in the hair industry. Franck and I grew up spending a lot of time in our parents’ salon, watching the stylists work and interact with clients. It was something that always appealed to me because it’s creative, artistic and always changing.
Franck: Growing up in the salon, I started with hair early. I was assisting and doing shampoo when I was 14 years old. I’ve always loved it and been drawn to it, seeing how stylists interact with clients and how creative you can be.
Aaron: Since I was young, around 11 years old, I spent years cutting hair in my and my friend’s basements and garages. I went to college and was working a bunch of different odd jobs, but I started to realize that all I really wanted to do was hair. I dropped out and followed that.
Chase: I was similar. I was always into hair and my friends would ask me to cut their hair. I thought being a hair stylist was the closest you could be to being a rockstar. When I was in high school, I started working as an assistant shampooing hair after school. When I was 15, I realized it was what I wanted as a career. I dropped out of high school and went to hair school.
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How did you come up with the concept for IGK?
Leo: As stylists, we work with so many different products and we wanted to create something easy for our clients to understand and to work with. We wanted her to be able to go home and get the same results we were able to give her in the salon.
Chase: We also had a cool opportunity because we have salons in 3 of the most forward-thinking, trend-setting cities (NY, LA, Miami). We see trends come in first, when our clients come in talking about something, and we wanted to bring that focus and innovation to our products.
How have you changed the landscape when it comes to hair?
Aaron: We each own a salon and work with clients every day. We have a great understanding of how people treat their hair, their lifestyle, and what they’re able and want to do with their hair. We take that into all of our product development. When we create something, we test it in our salons and with our clients. We get their feedback and our stylists’ feedback and adjust it until we feel like it’s the best it can be.
Franck: We’re doing something totally different – it’s a line created by 4 guys coming from the different looks and personalities of NY, LA and Miami with constant client testing and input. We’re creating a line that actually works for our stylists and our clients, and that is easy for them to understand and to use.
What’s the best compliment you ever received?
Chase: The best compliments come from my clients. I love doing someone’s hair and seeing it change their whole look. It’s the best when, even when I don’t see them for months, they come in and their hair still looks incredible.
Franck: I agree. It’s amazing to see my clients leave the salon feeling strong, confident and beautiful. Or when my staff tells me they love their jobs and where they work.
Aaron: When clients tell me that my team and the vibe of the salon is great – it’s energizing. We all work so hard and to hear that it’s working is the best.
Leo: People will compliment us on the products, and tell me that it’s the first product line they’ve used that actually works for them. They love the texture, the smell and how it works with their hair. That’s awesome because we work so hard on every product.
What was your “aha moment” when you realized IGK had really become a success?
Franck: I was in someone’s house, a celebrity, and they had our products in their bathroom. They asked if I’d heard of the brand. Haha! That was pretty crazy.
Aaron: I was on a plane this summer and a stewardess asked me, “aren’t you the ‘G’ in IGK?” She recognized me from our picture at Sephora and loves our products.
Chase: That picture in Sephora was nuts. When we woke up and a picture of the 4 of us was in the windows of Sephora’s nationwide.
Leo: When we found out we were launching in Sephora. That was always a dream and was a chance to reach so many new people.
What’s one mistake most women make when it comes to hair that they could easily fix?
Aaron: Overusing products and hot tools. With products, a little usually goes a long way and it’s always better to start small and add as needed. Hot tools are great to create specific styles but you should avoid using them every day because it can dry out and damage your hair.
Franck: I agree. I encourage my clients to embrace their natural hair texture instead of always using hot tools because it can damage the hair. Our products work for every hair type and give you the ability to enhance your natural hair without irons and tools.
Leo: I agree with not overusing products, especially hair masks. I see a lot of women leaving masks on overnight which can make hair greasy or be too heavy. I recommend IGK PRENUP Instant Spray Hair Mask, because you use it in the shower for only a minute. It gives you all of the benefits of the overnight mask but in a short period of time, so it won’t weigh down your hair.
Chase: Also, trimming their own bangs. Whenever possible, go see your stylist for a quick trim. If you do need to trim them yourself, make sure you use texturizing shears. They won’t create as clean of a line so it hides mistakes more easily.
What’s next for the brand?
Franck: We have major innovation in product development next year. And we’re exploring international expansion. Southeast Asia, Australia, Europe, the Middle East, Mexico and more. We’re grateful to have some of the world’s top retailers reaching out and wanting to partner with us.