As part of an ongoing series to celebrate Canadian talent in the industry, we caught up with celebrity hairstylist, salon owner and TV personality Aaron O’Bryan to chat about his new product line, AOB, and why it was important for him to give back to Canada.
Tell us about your product line and why you decided to create it.
I’ve always wanted to do it. It was really important to me that I created something different and bring something else to the market. In my early years, it wasn’t something I could do financially. Through time, my TV career and salon career, it was time to get going with my dream of creating a product line. I feel like I’ve always wanted to create something, well before hairdressing. In my early years, I wanted to be an entrepreneur and knew I wanted to create something for people. I’ve always had a passion for that and have always wanted to solve problems for clients.
Why now? Did you have any inspiration for this line?
My TV career on The Marilyn Denis show was a big part of it. I was going through that with people and problem solving; I was getting ideas from people during the makeovers about what made their hair different. I realized that what I wanted from a product was for people to feel good when they used it and to create something different.
What’s different about AOB?
AOB is a collection of solving all problems. I’d listen to clients over the years and they would complain about certain things: “I can’t get stuff out of my shampoo bottle,” which is where I got the flexi-pack idea—there was nothing really like it in the hair industry. There are plastic refill packs, but I wanted something upscale and luxurious with a flip lid that was very easy for people to use.
As a hairdresser, performance was a big thing for me. My conditioner is a duo—leave-in or rinse out. The hydrating conditioner helps hair feel soft and shiny, and repairs without weighing down the hair. We wanted to do a heat protector but not one you have to buy separately, so with our conditioner you can leave it in the hair and protect the hair from heat and it has frizz control. There are eight total benefits in it.
Through our chemists, we created products that rebuild the bonds in the hair and really protect the hair. Even before the [Black Lives Matter] movement where everything was raised to the surface, AOB was already gearing toward all hair types. I wanted AOB to hit the home market for everybody and I wanted nobody to feel excluded—no matter what background. When used in the right way, AOB products will work for all hair types and textures.
What sets your products apart?
The products are highly concentrated and more than 50 per cent plant-based. The products are also all sulfate-, paraben-, silicone- and cruelty-free. Performance wise, the collection of ingredients that are in there for performance, such as heat protection, [rebuilds] the amount of bonds in the hair and helps with frizz control while not weighing the hair down at all. We also found that over time, it just improved the hair substantially—the longer people used the products, the more it repaired the hair.
Why should hairstylists recommend these products to their clients?
For me, if people care about their clients and their problems, they’ll want to use AOB. Caring about clients mean helping them get value for their money and helping them not waste product. Whether a client’s problem is having to shake the bottle to get every last drop out if it or having to buy two products, at the end of the day this is about the client. With COVID and other financial issues, you can buy AOB and without breaking the bank. I created this line with the clients in mind; I wanted to look after them.
Can you tell us about the packaging?
The packaging is recyclable, and it is cleaner and better for our planet. The squeezable pouches are easy to use and made to “squeeze every last drop.” We wanted to solve as many problems as we can in a single product without affecting performance. It’s not 100 per cent perfect, but we’re trying to break boundaries.
Can you tell me about the line’s signature scent?
We have people who don’t like scent at all and others who absolutely love a more powerful scent, so we wanted to create something for the in-between and something that was unique to us. We describe the scent as wearing your partner’s jumper or T-shirt—that lingering cologne smell. It took me about a year and a half to get the scent right, and the response has been amazing!
What’s your favourite product from the line?
Volume Shampoo and Volume Leave-In Conditioner because they give my hair body and add that nice bit of texture.
Why was it important to you that this product be made in Canada?
I wanted to make something with less waste and to make it a true Canadian company. Canada gave me a lot—I had kids here, got my dream job here, starred on TV here. It was very important for me to give back to Canada, as a way to say, “Thank you.”