Garren on 10 Years of R+Co and What’s Ahead for the Brand


It’s hard to believe that it’s been a full decade since R+Co totally disrupted the industry with its collaborative approach to professional haircare. At a time in which many brands were launching with a singular artistic vision, the vegan haircare brand was unique in that it was founded by a collective of hair legends: Garren (a legendary hairstylist with over 1000 magazine cover credits to his name), Thom Priano (a top men’s grooming expert whose work spans Calvin Klein ads to GQ spreads), and Howard McLaren (the former creative director for influential hair brands Toni & Guy and Bumble and bumble). 

Photo Credit: Michael Del Buono

Thanks to their combined expertise and knowledge in editorial hairstyling, men’s grooming, and creative direction, the powerhouse trio has been able to continuously roll out an impressive lineup of innovative hair products over the years that have helped to establish R+Co as one of the top brands in the haircare category. Now in its 10th year, the brand is still changing the game with its eye-catching packaging, clever product names, and high-performance results, but also with its two newest ventures: sustainable luxury haircare line, R+Co BLEU and professional color line, R+COLOR

To mark its 10 years in the haircare business, R+Co is going all out with a huge birthday sale. The savings soiree kicked off officially on April 17 and goes through April 29. All you have to do is enter the promo code CELEBRATE to score 30% off all your favorite products (excluding kits and liters) on the R+Co website

Image courtesy of R+Co

In the spirit of celebrating the brand’s major milestone, The Tease caught up with one of the co-founders, Garren, to discuss R+Co’s evolution and ongoing commitment towards meeting the needs of hairdressers as well as their clients with its forward-thinking products. Here, he talks about the brand’s many achievements over the past decade, memorable product launches, and what’s in store for R+Co’s future. Keep scrolling for all his amazing insights.

A huge congratulations on R+Co celebrating its 10th anniversary! What would you say has been the key to the brand’s longevity in the haircare industry?

Garren: When we started out, we were kind of being a little rebellious. Having more than one person design a product was very unique back in 2014, because we all had different perspectives. I come from the world of not only owning a salon, but also training in the beginning of my days with Glemby Salon. I was the creative director of a company that educated hairdressers around the world, and that was in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. But then I also became very involved in editorial, fashion, and advertising work.

So the one thing that was different for me was that I was a hairdresser that was doing the fantasy work and then doing the reality on my clients. Having been relevant since 1975, with my work on the pages of Vogue, Glamour, and Allure, when magazines were really big and setting the mark for different haircuts and hairstyles, it gave me the kind of lineage that I could build products for men, women, and stylists, who would then be able to take them and copy the looks. 

Then you had Howard McLaren, who was originally from Bumble and bumble. He had his own DNA and that was in creating products and hand styling. And we were like yin and yang, with me doing one good thing and him doing another. So when you put it all together and scramble it all up, you come up with R+Co. And that was the thing that was so different and interesting for me when they first approached me about the line. I had done all of this already and had my own product line. I had worked for L’Oreal, Clairol, and all these different companies. So I thought, let’s just try it out and see where it goes. And I think it was such a great thing that we did. My husband, Thom Priano, was also a part of it at that time. He did all of this work for Bruce Weber and Calvin Klein—a lot of lifestyle hair. 

So with the three of us, it was truly a collective. Now we bring people, like hairstylist Ashley Streicher, in and out to help push the buttons on what they think is missing in the market. I think that is what keeps us different. We’re always hunting for something new.  We also get the hair salons and stylists involved because we throw them questions like, ‘What are salons looking for? What is the hairdresser looking for? What is the set hairdresser looking for?’ And that’s why I think that R+Co is thriving so well. We are so connected to the people that carry and use our products. I think if we continue on this road and we keep switching things up, we’re going to do really well.

Image courtesy of R+Co

The haircare industry has changed so much in the last 10 years, how has R+Co continued to differentiate itself and maintain its stance on creating best-in-class products?

Garren: So we’re not just a company that’s doing shampoo, conditioners, and styling products; we do it all under one umbrella. We have R+Co for the cool person—the one that wants to use products in every different way. Then we have the couture line, which is R+Co BLEU. It’s more sophisticated. It’s also like skincare in that you get a routine together and you don’t break it. Your hair doesn’t get tired of R+Co BLEU because the products work to create better hair and texture. Finally, we have our professional hair color line, R+COLOR, which we just introduced and is going out to the salons. 

And our whole thing is that everything is vegan and natural. We also keep reinventing our product formulas. If we find a better additive or ingredient, we add that in and switch things out, so the products will perform better. Our products are always updated so that they can do more of what we want them to do.

Could you briefly touch on some of the biggest challenges or opportunities that R+Co has faced in its brand journey in the past decade?

Garren: I’ve done fashion shows for a long time and I did big ones back in the day like Valentino, Gianfranco Ferré, Saint Laurent, and all of the shows in Europe and America. Anna Sui is one that I still do and will continue to keep doing because when she started her career, I was a part of it. So we’ve been back and forth every season and it’s been a fun journey. We’re also really good friends and we work well off each other, so that’s been a joy. Doing her shows has also given me the opportunity to bring in other hairdressers from different cities that work for R+Co so that they can experience the behind-the-scenes of doing hair for a fashion show. So I can really open it up to teaching and training. 

R+Co has developed a really great education system. We train people in the salons that carry our products, offering a basic training, but also ones that are more cutting-edge and extravagant. We also have master classes that I give in Miami that are geared towards our R+Co BLEU product line. Special hairdressers who want to experience a photo shoot can attend and spend three days with me. They will get two photographs out of it, which are directed by me, that they can hang in their salon. And these classes push these hairdressers to explore the different ways that they can play with hair and shows them the products that they can use to do it. 

As far as challenges, during COVID, a lot of brands were just going flat because there were no salons open. So we teamed up with our salons and we decided to create a program called R+Co Love. We allowed salons to put an app on their page that they could direct their clients to and their clients would be able to shop the R+Co products that their stylists would recommend to them. They would order it directly through R+Co and the salon would get the percentages that they would normally get. We helped salons to move along so that they weren’t losing money in the company and our company was just making money. R+Co Love leveled everything out and it kept the sales going. It also kept clients really loyal to their salons and to their hairstylists because they had this open dialogue going on all throughout COVID.

Image courtesy of R+Co

R+Co has had so many incredible launches over the last 10 years. Which ones have stood out the most for you and why?

Garren: R+Co has this unique DNA, and we were able to add to it by creating R+Co BLEU, which was inspired by me. It launched in the middle of COVID, and so to pull that off during the pandemic, we had to just really see where it could go. The R+Co BLEU line is more slimmed down compared to R+Co. It’s like a couture design. It’s also a little more serene and it is directed towards the client. The hairdresser could make a prescription out to the client so they could buy these products online or buy them in the salon and use them as told, so that their hair could be repaired. 

The other thing about R+Co BLEU is that it has my favorite products like the Essential Hair Tonic ($42.00), which has replaced my own personal tonic spray.  I gave them my favorite designing tonic spray, which I use on all the different models that I work with on set, and they allowed me to recreate it for R+Co BLEU. Then we have the Essential Shampoo ($49.00) and Conditioner ($49.00), which is universal. We also have this amazing category which consists of the De Luxe Reparative Shampoo ($49.00), Conditioner ($49.00), and Masque ($65.00)

And under that green R+Co BLEU label, we also have the Sleep Masque Night Repair Serum ($120.00), which is brilliant. How it works is you shampoo your hair before you go to bed and then towel blot it, before putting this serum all through your hair. Then you want to twist your hair up or braid it and go to sleep. When you wake up in the morning,  take your hair out and it will be so lush and conditioned. You can even re-wet your hair and blow it out if you want. But we do these one-offs of these special products. We did a lotion-to-powder dry shampoo for the scalp, which is called the Vapor Lotion to Powder Dry Shampoo ($42.00). You emulsify it in your hands and rub it on your scalp. It just goes in and absorbs all the oils, but leaves the texture there. It’s a really cool product.

One of my favorite R+Co BLEU products, which I use all the time, is the Optical Illusion Smoothing Oil ($59.00). It is so light and you really only need a few drops of it when working it through the hair. It doesn’t mess up the curl or wave pattern. We have also done categories for really curly hair at R+Co BLEU such as the Soft Bounce and the Rebounce line. And when you’re talking about curly hair, in one category, there are so many different textures and quality of hair because everyone has a totally different type of curl. So we have the Soft Bounce Natural Texture & Curl Shampoo ($49.00) and Conditioner ($49.00), and then the Rebounce Natural Texture & Curl Defining Crème ($42.00), which give you a nice wave pattern.  

Last year, we just developed the Blonded Brightening Shampoo ($49.00) and Masque ($62.00) under R+Co BLEU, which is for people that highlight or bleach their hair. These products take out all the yellow and gold tones, and leave behind this soft, pretty blonde. They have been very successful.

Can you share a few insights around some of R+Co’s best-selling products over the past decade?

Garren: In the R+Co line, our bestsellers are still going strong today like the DEATH VALLEY Dry Shampoo ($37.00). It is just so great. I was doing a photo shoot for Allure and we did a double page spread of an inspiration picture. I put a ton of DEATH VALLEY on the model’s hair and it was huge. They were using the can to spray her hair and usually a magazine will wipe out the product label. However, Linda Wells, the editor-in-chief at the time, thought DEATH VALLEY was so cool that she left the label on. This was such a milestone for a hair product line because with hair and makeup, they never show the actual product, especially in a major magazine. So this was one of the first times that it was done. I was so proud that there was a double page spread with the actual product in the model’s hand and the white powder being sprayed onto her hair.

The DALLAS Thickening Spray ($34.00) is another one of our bestsellers in the R+Co line as well as the TELEVISION Perfect Hair Shampoo ($38.00) and Conditioner ($38.00), which caters to almost every hair type. We also have this little DART Pomade Stick ($25.00) that is just so cool. It can tame the edges down and all the little fuzzies. 

Image courtesy of R+Co

What are you most proud of R+Co achieving over the past decade?

Garren: We’re very proud that we developed a line that was cutting-edge as well as a whole new world where our packaging was all biodegradable and reusable. We did it all at once and then we improved on it. We ended up using different types of tubes and containers in which everything breaks down and goes right back to the Earth. We’re also proud that all our products are so healthy and there’s nothing bad in them to hurt anyone or cause anyone to be allergic. Of course, someone’s going to be allergic to a natural ingredient, but it’s not going to be to the point where they’re going to have a disaster happen.

I also feel that as a brand, we’re not just thinking of the hairdresser or just the client. We’re thinking of the whole picture: how the salons can do better and how they can incorporate teaching the client how to use products properly. I always say, if you’re traveling to the South, where there’s a lot of humidity, you need a certain set of products for your hair to react a certain way. And if you’re going to the West Coast where it’s really dry with no humidity, you need a different set of products to have your hair react a certain way. We teach everybody that they don’t just need one product or just one shampoo.

And the other thing is that people have this myth in their head about how they can’t use the same shampoo for too long because their hair will get bored. Well, that’s not true. We have so many different products and so many different shampoos in each line that you can switch between while still staying with R+Co or staying with R+Co BLEU, and your hair will still be luxurious. You’re the one that gets tired of looking at your hair the way it is. It’s not that your hair is really reacting that way. 

R+Co has now successfully hit the 10-year mark. Looking ahead, what are your hopes for the brand in the next 10 years?

Garren: I think we’re going to learn how to simplify some of our products, because we are always looking at the big picture and we don’t just want to keep throwing products out there that are mimicking other products. And with R+Color, there’s so much further to go with hair color, because we’ve only just touched the tip of the iceberg with it. Now, we have to really develop and create colors that everybody feels belongs to them. And we’re also teaching different techniques of hair coloring. Hair color is really technical. Box color is one thing, and that’s something we don’t do. We are for the professionals. So I think we’ve got a long way to go with that.  

In the next 10 years, we’re also going to show you how we can develop. We don’t know what’s on the next horizon, but we know what we’re working on today and for the next three years. We just have to present it so that people understand it. And I want them to know how to use it and that it’s not just for the hairdressers—it’s for the clients, for the people, and for the world to be better. There’s product lines that come and go that are a snap of the moment, but to get 10 years out of a product line and still be talked about at that level, I think it’s pretty incredible. 

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

For a closer look at the world of R+Co—including R+Co BLEU and R+COLOR, be sure to visit or follow @randco and @randcobleu on Instagram. And to keep up with Garren, make sure to follow @garrennewyork on Instagram.

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Camille Nzengung

Camille Nzengung is a Features Editor at The Tease, where she covers all things hair. You can find her writing about the best hair products, the coolest hair trends, and all the exciting new hair launches. Send her a pitch:

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