The star of Netflix’s “Queer Eye,” Jonathan Van Ness has captivated a massive fan base as a comedian, best-selling author and podcast host with a prolific social media presence. But he definitely hasn’t forgotten about hair. Nearly two years ago, he added hair-care brand founder to his expanding resume with the launch of JVN Hair.
For this episode of the Glossy Beauty Podcast, Van Ness was joined by Teresa Lo, JVN Hair’s global vice president and general manager who has been with the brand from the start. Topics covered include Van Ness’s career journey, JVN Hair’s founding story and the products’ unique formulations, which use hemisqualane and are silicone-free. Lo also addressed whether the brand is seeing any impacts from the recent changes at its parent company, Amyris, after the company announced layoffs and the departure of its CEO last week.
While Van Ness is known for his humor and positivity, he’s also outspoken when it comes to more serious topics. In this interview, he reflected on the end of a Pride Month that was rife with homophobic rhetoric. Below are a few excerpts from the discussion:
On launching the brand:
Jonathan Van Ness: “I’ve always been a fan of clean beauty, but the technology in clean beauty didn’t catch up to hair care for a long time. But then once it did, it really did. And because of my relationship with Biossance and being able to have such a close relationship with our formulators and our cosmetic chemists, we were able to make, in my opinion–I know I’m biased because it is my baby–a line that works so well. And it really works on so many hair types, which was also part of my goal.”
Teresa Lo: “What I’m most proud of is from when we finalized the deal to when the first bottle was physically on a Sephora shelf, we did that in nine months. We built this brand from scratch during a global pandemic, with supply chain challenges, with labor shortages, with every roadblock that you can imagine–a small team–and did that in our record-breaking nine months. Sephora couldn’t even believe that we were able to do that.”
The product development philosophy:
JVN: “I think it’s really important for us to be intentional about our growth, especially product-wise. We don’t want to create products just to create products. We want to create products that really add to the conversation, and that are really innovative.”
JVN Hair on “Queer Eye”:
JVN: “I’ve actually been using JVN Hair on ‘Queer Eye’ since Season 6, because I was already formulating. I was already testing things at that time. I was already way into testing at that time. We already had all of our formulas formulated by them. So I’ve been doing it on ‘Queer Eye.’ I did it on ‘Getting Curious.’ I was doing it on every photo shoot I ever was at. I was always using JVN Hair. I’ve always been one of those people who, once I find something I like, I only want to use it.”
On embracing Pride month as a brand founder:
JVN: “There are parts of me that feel really abandoned, really hopeless, really frustrated. There’s other parts of me, though, that are like, ‘I’ve worked really hard to create JVN Hair.’ I also work really hard to put myself in public spaces … I go out to protest at the Capitol, or when I go out to talk to people, sometimes that doesn’t feell all the way safe, especially doing it in Texas, but I do it all the time. … I’m aware of what we’re up against. I see other people pulling out [of Pride campaigns]. … What I’m really thinking a lot about lately and the I’m choosing to identify with the most and what I’m trying be my North Star is the 2022 elections.
People always ask me in Pride Month, ‘How can I be a better ally? Who should I donate to?’ … The truth of how you can be a better ally is to … just care and to educate yourself. Because if you don’t know that these laws are being passed, and you don’t know the framework of how they’re being passed, it’s going to be really hard for you to make a decision.”