In honor of Hillary Kerr and Katherine Power’s upcoming book, The Career Code: Must-Know Rules for a Strategic, Stylish, and Self-Made Career ($17), we’re kicking off an interview series featuring 17 questions (in honor of the book’s 17 chapters) about the work lives of the most inspirational female leaders in the beauty industry.
The journey to success is rarely easy—we hustle and sacrifice to realize our goals, all the while knowing that the takeaway can only be as immense as the work we put into it. That certainly rings true for Riawna Capri and Nikki Lee, co-founders of Nine Zero One, who have managed to shape their craft into one of the most influential hair salons in the industry.
Still, the hairstylists also know that a positive, humble environment is just as essential to their business as work and ability. Balancing an A-list clientele (including Emma Roberts, Selena Gomez, and Vanessa Hudgens) with a hugely successful salon business might seem daunting or stressful, but the pair makes it work by fostering a familial, fun-loving atmosphere with their talented team. (That, and having an unrivaled eye for the coolest trends in hair color.)
But what else have Capri and Lee learned along the way? Keep reading to see what they look for in superstar employees, how they stay sane in the face of chaos, and more.
"It's the ultimate dream job to hang out, make people happy, and get paid while doing it."
"Even though it seems like all fun and games, there are a lot of hours put into it. The timing can be demanding, depending on your clients' needs. Sometimes a celebrity needs a last-minute house-call hair service and you just have to go, even if you have already worked a 12-hour day! It’s also surprising that we have to be chemists in a way. There are numerous formulas that we have to come up with when customizing colors."
NIKKI LEE: "I wore Frankie B silk pants with an Asian print and a black tank top. I was so proud of that outfit!"
RIAWNA CAPRI: "I went in the day before to spy and see what everyone was wearing. I then went home to put on something I would NEVER wear in my life. The outfit was a black tank top, black ruffled skirt with a thick jean belt and wrestling boots. It was feminine yet edgy… so I thought. When I went in for my interview, the manager wasn't there, so I wore it the next day too.
"Ironically, we both applied as assistants for Fred Segal Beauty at the same time."
NL: "Diane von Furstenburg. She's timeless—I want to know how she does that! She’s always keeping up with the trends and setting her own.
RC: "Steve Jobs, because I feel like he understands me. His crazy, all-over-the-place mind reminds me of myself. His attention, down to the most intricate detail, is something that I can relate to."
"Thirteen-year-old YouTubers, Pinterest, and being creative within our salon. We all try new things on our clients and share those secrets with each other. This keeps us ahead of the game so we can create our own new trends."
"What would have been regrets have only made us stronger businesswomen. So we can't really say that there has ever been anything that happened that we wish hadn't."
"Personality: You can teach someone how to cut and color hair, but you can’t teach them how to be a good person. This is our number one rule. Having your own style: You should feel comfortable and confident in your look. Presentation and attention to detail, which even relates to their résumé. Creativity: We look at their Instagram portfolio and see if they can think outside of the box with their cuts, colors, and styles. And finally, [that they're] a team player. We are a family at 901, and we all work together and help each other out. No solo acts allowed."
"There is not one thing that we would wear to feel powerful. But we do come to work well-groomed and manicured, which sets the tone of feeling good about yourself. This is in turn makes you feel powerful. We also have to set an example for the staff—if we dress the part, they will!"
NL: "Nurturing, understanding yet strict. They call me mother."
RC: "Blunt, straightforward, to the point, and always down for a good time. I'm the cool aunt."
"That means it's time to take a vacation and recharge!"
"In person with a proper notice. Never burn any bridges, because you never know when you will cross their paths again. You may end up asking or wanting to come back."
NL: "A salad with chicken and avocado from Urth Caffé."
RC: "A Zinque bowl with egg frittata, extra tomatoes, and extra sauce.
"Giving excuses for their mistakes and not owning up to their doings. Acting as if they know it all, when everyone can always learn!"
RC: "Child_of_Wild, because I want to be in every photo they post. FailsVids for my daily dose of laughter. Tyler Knott for unique positive thoughts. LabryinthofCollages: I love the creativity of every collage. Kat Gaskin, because I love her eye for color. Her pictures always make me happy and want to go on vacation."
NL: "Pilates in the morning, and in the evening, snuggling with my hubby and watching our favorite TV shows."
RC: "In the morning, I walk my dogs in Laurel Canyon and get my favorite iced vanilla latte with coconut milk from the Canyon store. At night, I like to snuggle with my pups with my girlfriend and a glass of rosé."
NL: "When opening 901, my dad said, 'Go for it! You’re young and can always file for bankruptcy.' (By the way, we made sure this was not ever going to be the case!)"
RC: "When I won Student of the Year in third grade, my dad taught me how to shake the principal’s hand when I went up to receive the award. He said, 'You look him in the eyes and you squeeze firmly with one shake. It shows him you are strong and confident.' And to this day, I still shake hands like that and get compliments on it regularly, especially from men."
"First is our Beauty Coach Bus: We are super excited for all the fun adventures in making people beautiful on the road. First up is Coachella, then weddings, birthdays, charity events, and more. This has been a dream of ours that has finally come into reality. There's also Raindrops ($120), our shower filtration system. This was a labor of love for us because we truly believe everyone can continually have beautiful hair and skin. And finally, 901 Academy: Education for our peers in the business. There's nothing better than helping others learn more about the craft they dedicate their lives to."
What do you think of Lee and Capri's advice? Sound off in the comments below.