Crown Affair founder Dianna Cohen’s High Ideas for Entrepreneurs
Crown Affair founder, Dianna Cohen
Dianna Cohen abandoned the concept of “good hair days” a little over a year ago when she launched Crown Affair, a hair care brand based on the idea of a ritualistic application focused on mindfulness.
“Hair care is a category that sells professional solutions with the message that your hair needs to be ‘fixed’ or ‘tamed’,” says Cohen, Founder and CEO, noting that she wanted to change that news. “The more I researched, the clearer it became how little regulated or ‘clean’ is in this category and how old the language about ‘good hair days’ has become.”
Cohen and her team make products that they hope will enable people to find an effective, clean ritual to celebrate hair care as part of their daily routine and wellbeing.
While the brand only launched in January last year, a healthy hair routine isn’t new to them.
Cohen has always been the “contact person” for hair care.
“Growing up, I found confidence in taking care of my hair, which sparked a lifelong obsession with everyday rituals that we all use to take care of ourselves and connect us,” she explains, noting that people eventually ask for recommendations ask you will be asked to write your own 12-step ritual to share in a Google Doc.
This doc hit the road and spread beyond their personal network. As a result, Cohen saw a need for education and guidance regarding hair care, which led her to look beyond her own hair and examine various textures and hair types.
Hair became a hobby but now it has become her business and like any business she has learned a lot since it was launched last year.
“While I could never have predicted that I would start business six weeks before a global pandemic, we took this time to practice what we preach and take time to build something meaningful,” says Cohen and notes that there were silver linings from the year, including building a so-called “special culture” with a team built remotely.
During Crown Affair’s first year, Cohen also founded Seedling, a professional development program that brings women early in their careers together with female leaders from a variety of industries.
“When the COVID-19 crisis hit, we wanted to find a meaningful way to contribute in addition to donating a percentage of our sales,” says Cohen. “As an all-women company founded by a CEO with an unconventional career path, we have recognized that professional development and networking is something we can offer to those whose career paths may be interrupted before they even begin.”
Seedling has created almost 200 mentor / mentee pairs in the first two “seasons”.
And while Cohen has helped others grow professionally through seedling, here are some lessons and tips from Cohen for anyone looking to start their own business.
Here’s what Cohen has learned since launch:
- “With every product idea or market launch: Just start.”
Your start for a great idea, be it a company, a goal or a project, doesn’t have to be big or fancy. Cohen’s business began with a Google Doc.
“It’s not easy to be a beginner in a world that measures bottom line, but just start,” says Cohen. “Before you know it, you’ll look back and see how far you’ve come.”
- “If you commit to a daily morning ritual / take your time, your work day will affect you.”
It is important to start self-care in the morning. Cohen starts her days with “morning pages” and stretching and foam rolls for an hour before locking herself in at her computer. It is important to “show up for yourself,” she says, noting that if you are leading a team, they should be given the space to do the same.
- “Relationships are everything.”
No matter what the relationship is, it matters. “Every person you connect with is part of an ecosystem that builds your brand,” says Cohen. “Being friendly and taking the time to get in touch with people authentically is everything.”
- “Vulnerability can be a superpower.”
- “Keep your blinders up.”
There will always be someone who wants to imitate what you’ve done, says Cohen, but you have to remember, “You are the author.”
And Cohen’s best tips for entrepreneurs:
- “Trust your gut at the end of the day.”
“They built this for you, you’ll know what’s right,” says Cohen.
- “Nostalgia can kill you.”
What has worked in the past is great, but it won’t necessarily get you anywhere. Flexibility is important.
- “Build personal structures.”
Observing rituals can support your work.
- “Put your ‘Avengers Team’ together.”
Whether it’s a close, honest friend, a leadership coach, your partner, or a former employee – building a supportive network that is ready to support you and help you troubleshoot any challenges that arise.
- “Every dollar counts.”
While raising money is helpful, it’s important to find the right investors who understand that growing your vision is critical, says Cohen. “But with capital, you know where it’s going and measure it when you can.”
And taking into account the importance of the dollar is vital in marketing too. “If you’re deciding between spending on paid marketing or original content, investing in unique, thoughtful content is a good idea,” says Cohen. “Great work is stored and shared forever and provides context.”