This content was created by Girlboss in partnership with OUI the People.
Karen Young was always incredibly curious about people and social norms. The CEO and founder of OUI the People studied psychology at Fordham University, then later worked at Estee Lauder, where her love for body care bloomed. As she combined her two passions (the mind and the body), asking questions about inflammation, dry skin and razor burns along the way, she discovered a need to find an answer for it all. That answer? A stainless steel safety razor, which jump-started the million-dollar, Instagram-famous body care company that we know (and obsess over) today: OUI the People.
Being nothing short of rebellious, Young knew that competing with well-known brands and the negative stigma of actually discussing body care would be difficult. But she decided to do it anyway. Because she knew how to create a brand that was indispensable by rejecting the tired beauty trope that women’s body hair is somehow “bad” or “dirty” (and thus, needs to be shaven) while also prioritizing sustainability and gender inclusivity. This created a form of empathy and connection that most other brands couldn’t replicate. And let’s be honest, who can really say no to an eco-conscious, irritant-free Rose Gold Safety Razor? Just over 10 years later, OUI the People is helping to create a more inclusive body care industry, one shave at a time..
We chatted with Young recently about her own relationship with body hair, her personal and professional goals and the most rewarding part of advocating for an optional—not mandatory—shaving routine.
What is your relationship like with your own body hair?
“I was obsessed with being smooth shaven when I was younger. I certainly felt the pressure to conform to societal pressure. It was a vicious cycle of shaving, in-growns, inflammation and hyperpigmentation, and I didn’t know any better (in terms of caring for my skin). Now, I shave when I feel like it and dedicate most of my time to my body care and wellness. Also, the added benefit of shaving with a safety razor for all these years is that my hair grows back more evenly and slowly.”
How has OUI the People altered the perception of body care?
Shaving had always been seen as a chore. We didn’t set out to make body care more luxurious at the start, our goal was to make it more efficacious first and a pleasure to use second. What we’ve altered is the experience of body care as one that is effective, inclusive and driven by targeted solutions.”
How do you want to change women's relationship with body care?
“Beauty, makeup and cosmetics all come with a side of judgment. ‘Perfecting, flawless, anti-aging…’ We have an opportunity to rethink caring for the body without the emotional impact of telling people they’re inherently flawed.”
What have been the most rewarding parts of operating a beauty brand through a body-positive lens?
“Hearing from people who finally feel seen, whether that’s through our language or the skincare concerns we address with body care.”
Currently, what are your favorite products from your brand?
Personally and professionally, what are you working on?
“Personally, being a first-time mom and finding any semblance of balance between that and being a founder and CEO.”
How did you define success growing up versus what does it mean to you now?
“Growing up, I correlated it with money and degrees, especially coming from a single-parent home and with an immigrant upbringing. Now, success is the freedom to build something from scratch, ignite people to help and people to become part of the journey, and being able to spend time with my son.”
What would you tell your younger self?
“It’s a long, slow, arduous climb.”
Now, onto the Rapid Fire questions… What do you look for in an employee?
“Tenacity, creativity in thinking, resourcefulness, and an ability to see the upside and the opportunities.”
How many unread emails do you have?
“Oh, it’s embarrassing. 3,245 currently. Send help.”
Best piece of advice you ever got?
“You can’t control the sea, but you can become a skilled sailor.”
Worst piece of advice you ever got?
“I can’t think of any specifically, but the worst thing I’ve ever done was try to follow anyone else’s playbook.”
What does the term 'girlboss' mean to you?
“It’s a term that reminds the world that women can still be strong, capable and skilled enough to be bosses.”
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