After a whirlwind year, three local moms may be exhausted, but their hair (and beauty enterprise) has never looked better.
Lindsay Holden, Britta Chatterjee and Shannon Kearney are the “three-legged stool” of a new hair care product line called Odele which as of January could be found in over 1,000 Target stores.
“We built this over nap time,” said Holden, 39, of Minneapolis, and a mother of three kids. “It was crazy!”
Holden, who contributes marketing and design to the company, met Chatterjee, 38, a former Scandia resident and mother of two kids, in college at the University of Minnesota.
“We were put on a project there together and knew very quickly that we enjoyed working together,” Holden said.
After business school, they went their separate ways but kept in touch, always hoping to eventually start a business together. They tried once before with a baby gear company but didn’t have the time or resources to make it happen.
Chatterjee, who worked at Target and General Mills, brings experience with financials and negotiations to the table. She met Kearney, 31, a St. Paul native with one child, while working at another beauty brand.
Kearney handles operations. In other words, she knows who to call to get things done.
Together, they built Odele, a hair care line that is meant to simplify the shared space of the shower.
“All three of us being moms, we saw a space for something that was clean but also high performance,” Chatterjee said. “Our showers were packed with so many bottles. We wanted something that was much more simple.”
Women want high-performing, salon-quality hair products. Men don’t want to smell like roses. And children need products that are free from toxic chemicals.
Odele is a high-performing, mildly fragrant, clean hair care line that all three should be able to share, Holden said.
Even the name is a phonetic riff off “å dele,” a Norwegian word which means “to share.”
There are nine products, eight available at Target, categorized by hair type rather than gender.
Volumizing shampoo and conditioner in the peach bottle is for straight to wavy and fine to medium hair that tends to get oily after a few days.
Smoothing shampoo and conditioner in the seafoam green bottle is for straight to wavy and medium to coarse hair or fine hair that is very dry or damaged.
Curl defining shampoo and conditioner in the blue bottle is for curly to coily (or kinky) and medium to coarse hair.
Other products (in white bottles) are Texturizing Sea Salt Spray, Leave-in Conditioner and Air Dry Styler.
All products are $11.99 and have natural fragrances like cool and clean cucumber, oakmoss — which is earthy with notes of leather — and ylang ylang, which is a light fruity/floral scent.
As for the clean part, they followed Target’s standards for clean products and adhered to European Union standards as well. That means they don’t use sulfates, formaldehyde, phthalates, paraben, dyes, synthetic fragrances or any of the 1,328 cosmetic ingredients banned by the E.U. They are cruelty-free, vegan, allergy-tested and dermatologist-tested.
To find a product all members of a family can use, there had to be some compromises. The products are gentle but not necessarily “tear-free,” and while they are cheaper than salon formulas, they compete with shampoos in the $2 and $3 range.
One year is a short time to develop a product line, put it through 83 rounds of testing and get it on Target’s shelves. How did they manage it?
“Never underestimate the efficiency and power of a working mom,” Chatterjee said. “You get done what you need to get done. We really really knew what we wanted.”
Holden said while it seems to have happened fast, it’s been a decade in the making. When they were working in the corporate world, they built up numerous contacts and skills that prepared them for this venture. And no, it’s not because they know people at Target, Chatterjee said.
“Target doesn’t do favors,” she said. “We know what retailers are looking at. That’s what we’re good at. A lot of this is made possible because of where we are. Minneapolis is a mecca for personal care. We’ve got manufacturers, we’ve got labelers, basically everything that you need right here in your own back yard.”
When they first saw it on the shelves, they felt a mixture of excitement, surrealism and … nausea?
“I thought I was going to throw up,” Chatterjee said, explaining how terrifying it felt to have a product she’d spent so much time developing out there for public judgment. “I’m probably oversharing,” she said with a laugh.
As they work to make Odele a household name, the moms are loving the flexibility of owning their own business, which means being able to get their kids off the bus or take a day off if children are sick. And they hope simplifying bath time will help other moms.
“Just to have an appreciation for some, like, calm among chaos, because that’s the normal, is chaos.” Holden said. “When you can make one part of it a little easier, that’s great.”