How Shelby Wild of Playa Went From Fashion Stylist to Herbalist to Haircare Brand Founder

From securing voting rights in 1920 to launching world renowned corporations, we’ve come a long way as females! International Women’s Day takes place on March 8th this year. It’s a global day that champions the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women all around the globe. We tend go full speed all year but for one day, International Women’s Day allows us to take a pause and applaud the baddies around us.

Here at Mane Addicts we love celebrating women and their accomplishments more than anyone. This series will take you inside the lives and minds of some of the biggest female names in hair.

(via Playa)

Shelby Wild had an epiphany when a mound of products rapidly descended upon her after opening a cramped medicine cabinet: why can’t hair styling be easy? She set out to make a line that can take girls from shower to office in no time, all with an effortless California vibe and of course, clean ingredients. Playa was born and the rest is history. Shelby shares with Mane Addicts her favorite parts about being an entrepreneur and the real secret behind success.

MA: Tell us about your business.

Shelby Wild: Playa is a natural-based, handcrafted line of essential hair care products inspired by the laid-back California beach life. I designed the collection to deliver transformational results for the everyday woman, simplifying her beauty routine – no matter what ethnicity, hair color or type. The entire line is formulated to be safe and of salon-quality, which our team accomplishes by combining hand-selected oils and botanicals with cutting-edge, clinically active ingredients.

MA: How did you get started in hair? 

Shelby Wild: Before launching Playa in 2017, I worked in fashion as a stylist in NYC, first at Vogue and then at Intermix. My career was becoming increasingly more corporate, which comes with long hours and seemingly zero time to dedicate to a full-blown beauty routine. I would rush from my apartment to the office with wet hair, which would look awful when it dried! I went on a mission to find products that would allow me to wash and go, but I was coming up short in my search. I had my “aha” moment when I opened up my tiny (Manhattan apartment-sized) bathroom cabinet, and bottles upon bottles of various salt sprays and hair oil spilled onto the floor. It was an eye-opener that my routine was increasingly cluttered and ineffective. It was at that moment that I decided to create a line of daily use products that worked together to give you effortlessly beautiful hair, without sacrificing the safety of ingredients.

MA: What was the first step you took to start your company?

Shelby Wild: After speaking to friends and colleagues and realizing they were all similarly frustrated with overwrought hair care routines and products that didn’t deliver as promised, I quit my job and moved to LA. There, I took an herbalism course to get the lay of the land in terms of ingredients. This helped immensely as I began the R & D phase of Playa, and guided my approach to using natural-based formulas.

MA: What have you found useful to get through the hard times?


Shelby Wild: Take a beat! While it’s easy to get wrapped up in the rat race (a challenge I’ve been battling even more since moving back to NYC), it’s so important to be able to step back and remember your purpose and goal. 
Something that helps me to get out of my own way and center myself is maintaining a consistent yoga practice. I try to do yoga three nights a week, and whenever possible go for long walks outside with my husband to gather some perspective and “re-set.”

MA: What makes you unique as a female entrepreneur?

Shelby Wild: My background is not in the beauty industry, which can come as a surprise to other people in this space. I think it’s important that my inspiration behind Playa came organically, as an everyday consumer. It allowed me to think bigger picture about what is actually missing from the hair care space, rather than creating products in a vacuum. My own personal experiences have guided the brand’s evolution to this day, and I’m so proud of what I’ve built.  

MA: What is the best advice you’ve received on your entrepreneur journey?

Shelby Wild: It takes a village! As an entrepreneur, one fear is that you’re creating something in a vacuum. Leaning on your network – both business and personal – for support not only offers a sounding board, but reminds you that you don’t have to be on this crazy journey alone. Whether that’s seeking out a mentor in the industry or connecting with other female founders, it’s crucial to build that community!

MA: Do you have any tips for young females looking to get into the hair business?


Shelby Wild: Research, research, research. The hair industry can seem like a crowded space, so my advice is to identify the corner of it that interests you the most. If that’s the natural formula area, sign up for a class on herbalism! If you’re drawn to the business side of things, reach out to salons in your area and set up informational interviews with founders. If you have the entrepreneurial drive, start using your friends, family, and even your hairstylist as a focus group! Ask them about their frustrations with products, what they’re loving from other brands, what they wish existed in their medicine cabinet, etc. 


MA: What is your morning routine? How does it help you kick off your day?

Shelby Wild: I am admittedly not a morning person! Most of my creative, bigger picture brainstorming around the company happens late at night, so I don’t usually get to bed until 12:30. I typically wake up around 8:00 am, and start each day by reading The Wall Street Journal; it’s a ritual I’ve had for years. I consciously try not to look at my phone for the first hour upon waking, but realistically that becomes closer to 30 minutes. My beauty routine is, in the Playa mindset, minimal and efficient. Especially since moving back to New York, I find that the urge to get up and get out the door quickly is real! I look for products that multitask, like the RMS lip and cheek balm. For hair, our New Day Hair Mist: $24.00 has been a savior. I put my hair up in a bun at night and take it down in the morning, which gives me nice natural waves. Then I use the hair mist to take out any dents—I’m a very deep sleeper and I’m always moving around. After that, my husband and I walk to our favorite coffee shop to caffeinate, and I’m at the office by 10!

MA: What tech device or app do you credit for making you more productive?


Shelby Wild: While it’s not exactly under the radar, Playa would be nowhere without Google calendar! I really can’t stay organized without it. Beyond keeping my schedule under control, I also incorporate a to-do list by adding reminders to each day. Every night before I go to bed, I read through my calendar to prep for the day ahead, and block off any “free” time so I can get through my list in between meetings. I also make a point every Sunday night to look at the upcoming week and clear my inbox (or try to), so I can start every Monday with a fresh perspective.

Now that you’ve learned from Shelby that balance is necessary for success, HERE is why you should always prioritize sleep.

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