This March, The Tease is bringing you stories from women who are #MakingHairstory, #BakingBeauty and #DoingItForTheCultuHer. Learn how these influential women are breaking barriers, disrupting their industries and empowering others to do the same all month long.
Olivia Garden’s high-quality hairbrushes, shears and appliances have been part of Anne Maza’s life since before she was born. Originally founded by her parents, Maza is now Co-owner and Vice President of Sales and Marketing–securing the company’s legacy as an industry innovator with over 55 patents registered and sales in more than 100 countries.
We had the pleasure of speaking to Maza about literally growing up in the salon professional industry and the secrets to running a successful business.
The Tease: How did you get started in the salon professional industry?
Anne Maza: I was literally born in the wonderful salon industry! My mother was a hairdresser and esthetician and my father a schoolteacher turned entrepreneur, and together they founded Olivia Garden 6 years before I was born. So, Olivia Garden and the Salon industry have always been a part of my life.
How would you describe your relationship to hair?
The more I learn about hair, the more it fascinates me! Its variety in so many levels (thickness, texture, length, shape, color), its change over time as we age, as our bodies face health changes or challenges, how the environment can change our hair, how much we can also change our hair voluntarily and how much hair is part of our identity. Understanding how hair interacts with our tools and vice versa is at the core of everything that we do at Olivia Garden.
Women are often discouraged from sharing their accomplishments, but we want to hear about them. List some of your career highlights. What are you most proud of?
My greatest and proudest accomplishment is that I have been able to take over the leadership, successfully run and grow (along with my co-owner and brother Pierre) Olivia Garden, the amazing company that our parents founded in 1967. Under our leadership, we have grown Olivia Garden to be available in over 100 countries as well as sold over 20 million hairbrushes.
Having assembled over the years an amazing team of dedicated and passionate Olivia Garden team members worldwide (we have offices in Belgium and USA) who love OG and who contribute to its daily success is also one of my biggest highlights.
Having earned the respect of industry peers, as well as customers around the world for being the leader in our product categories is definitely one of my proudest moments
What are the biggest challenges you have experienced within the industry and how did you overcome them?
Initially, my biggest challenge was being an immigrant and our company being unknown. We were the “new kids” on the block and we had to figure everything out for ourselves in an era when there was no internet, [so] information was not easily accessible. We also had a lot of challenges to break through in the marketplace because it was already saturated with hairbrushes and tools.
Through perseverance, hard work, creative thinking, dedication to high quality and innovation, as well as lots of patience and a little bit of luck, we broke through, got our chances to show the marketplace how great our products are, and the rest is history!
What are the biggest lessons you’ve learned throughout your career?
As a leader, you will need to make a lot of decisions; do a thorough analysis of the situation and the options, and then trust yourself with your decisions.
In order to grow, you have to learn to delegate, so surround yourself with others that are experts in their fields and passionate about their work.
One of the fundamentals of success is planning but also constantly re-evaluating those plans because the world changes very quickly.
Are there any women in the industry who inspire you or your work? If so, who?
My mother is my biggest inspiration! She founded Olivia Garden 2 times with my father, 1st when they started in Belgium, without help from anyone and the 2nd time when we moved to the USA to open a division here, which was basically like starting from scratch once again. My mother is the hardest working, most dedicated, kindest and most patient person that I know. Her lifetime achievements, struggles, perseverance, strength and compassion for others amaze me every day.
She worked in the salon, founded a company, raised a family, took care of a household, moved to a new country at 50 years old not knowing the culture or language and worked diligently to achieve great success without ever complaining, criticizing or faltering. She is my all-time female inspiration.
Do you have any words of wisdom for other women within the salon professional industry?
We are lucky that in our industry, women are celebrated both because there are a lot of female stylists but also because the industry mostly caters to the female segment (the Barber category is becoming more important, but it is still very small compared to the female category). With that said, women can still be under appreciated and undervalued in our industry as well. For these situations, I say 3 things:
If anyone puts you down or claims that you are not good enough, use that negativity to fuel your passion and your drive to prove them wrong.
Believe in yourself. Gender has nothing to do with the ability to achieve success; success comes from hard work, perseverance, dedication and a bit of good luck.
Be yourself! Don’t change to fit anyone’s expectations or perception, this industry (and I believe the world) is more beautiful because of the diversity amongst ourselves. We all have something unique to contribute!
What’s next for you?
My goal is to have an Olivia Garden product in every salon and every home on the planet, so I still have a lot of work ahead of me! Navigating the ever-changing distribution and communication landscape successfully while making Olivia Garden a household name around the world is my long-term goal.
In the shorter term, our new product category, hot tools, is particularly exciting because it gives us a brand-new category in which we can innovate and positively contribute to the category both for salon and home users. Since we are the “new kids” on the block in this category, my next big challenge is to breakthrough in this category and become the market leader as we have already done in the hairbrush and shear categories.