After 20+ years in consumer products, and beauty specifically, it takes a lot for us to do a double take. Brands, products and campaigns can all start to feel strangely similar, with surprises here and there, but still few and far between. Then we met Arey, and at first glance, our interest was piqued.
Instead of hiding, covering or coloring grey hair, Arey takes a proactive inside/outside approach to proactively managing the graying process. It’s like skincare for hair; ultimately, the system makes coloring hair a personal choice versus an anti-aging necessity. It’s a fresh and empowering take on a topic (greying) that’s often cloaked in shame.
The brand is run by an uber savvy group of science, business and creative experts that truly think outside the box. Jay Small, Co-Founder, was kind enough to give us a peek into how Arey came to be…
Tell us a little bit about your background and what prepared you to help lead Arey’s innovation?
Arey is a science focused brand that offers proactive solutions to haircare. We are the Wrinkle Cream of Haircare, designed to be used at the first signs of aging hair. Our east-meets-west approach combines western medicine and eastern philosophy to create the optimal environment to preserve hair pigment and grow healthy hair.
I grew up in New Jersey, that means winter will always be coming soon. If you know this feeling, it is one that motivates you to accomplish as much as you can before it’s too cold to go outside. As teenager I worked in construction, the last deck I built was for my first mentor in hairstyling. He owned the ultimate salon in Hoboken, NJ. Working with him, I was given a task to be great. Working with clients, sweeping floors it didn’t matter what I did, I wanted to show how thankful I was for the opportunity and live up to his expectations.
In this salon, I met my next mentor who showed me how to excel in the salon and opened my eyes to education and the beauty industry. Truthfully, I initially became a hairstylist to earn enough money to attend college and study architecture. My mind has always been focused on the “why” and how to build things step by step, whether that’s a haircut or a haircare product.
At the age of 19 I met my third mentor and he showed me the process behind product development and then inspiring people to use them. He trained me and allowed me to educate thousands of hairstylist in many states and countries. I learned who Paul Mitchell was and what that meant to the beauty industry many years after his passing. To be honest public speaking terrified me in the early years, I now realize it’s because I didn’t have much to say.
Working with clients has been my focus for the last 20 years, and it’s a privilege to meet and connect with so many great people. For the last 10 years I have worked privately at three different studios around Los Angeles. My time spent in downtown LA was shared with artists and friends, none of which did any hair. While in that space, I started to experiment with haircare products and design tools, until one day a client had a really good idea!
Allison Conrad is my Co-founder in Arey, and also a friend. She’d been coming to see me for haircuts for many years. One day she asked what could be done about her newly discovered grey hairs and I talked her out of coloring her hair. I knew the time commitment and chemicals wouldn’t align with her lifestyle. This exchange sparked the idea for Arey.
There are many similarities between Arey and how we have been coached to think about skincare. Essentially, being proactive about caring for our hair and skin. When developing the brand, when did that parallel come up?
Arey is haircare inspired by skincare. The haircare industry has been reactive for decades and our goal was to offer proactive solutions. Using hair color should be a choice not a necessity- we see grey hair as a message from the body. By responding when you see your first grey hair, the possibility of pigment preservation and re-pigmenting hairs that have lost color, is possible.
When we first learned that genetics only account for 30% of the reason why we go grey, it inspired Arey’s inside out, outside in approach. The remaining 70% are factors related to diet and lifestyle, so we focus on using vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and peptides to help support hair color and growth.
Are you seeing attitudes shifting about aging and greying hair with Millennials and Gen Z?
We love grey hair. For those that choose to embrace it, we are here to make sure that it looks its healthiest. However, we have seen that there is a real shift toward optionality and control over how we age. Choosing to look how you feel comfortable is what Arey wants to offer its users. I predict that the group currently in their 20’s will not approach grey hair the same as we do now.
We believe that starting to use Arey earlier in the aging process will help preserve youthful hair. This is much easier than trying to revive hair that is showing significant signs of aging. We see consumers becoming more and more aware of how scalp health creates an environment for healthy hair growth and pigment preservation.
What inspired the look and feel of the brand?
Arey is designed to be approachable, believable and make you feel good every time you see it. My wife Amy is the creative genius behind the look and feel of the Arey brand. Amy’s taste is precise; she knows what she likes and doesn’t like, which helped us to create a beautiful brand. She has humored me with logos and websites for so many ideas, and with this one I said it would be the last. The team all agrees that these science-backed products should also make a room look better. But, it’s the results that will keep you coming back!
Finally, anything you want to share with us about what’s next for Arey?
As we move forward, we have some exciting products that will be coming in early 2023. Our focus for these next product launches will be exploring different delivery systems for our patent pending complex. We realize that everyone’s beauty routine is unique, incorporating these ingredients into products that fit all hair types and lifestyles is our goal. Beyond that, we are researching ingredients that will continue to optimize the Arey family of products.
A BIG thank you to Jay for giving us a look inside (and behind) how Arey came to be. Explore Arey’s full product line and follow them on Instagram @areygrey