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Hype Hair's New CEO Is Giving Us The Style Fix We All Need

Lia Dias continues expanding an empire, one venture at a time.

BOSS UP

Who doesn't remember showing up to the hair salon with a ripped out page from Hype Hair, ready to be transformed? The magazine has been a staple in salons and homes for more than 20 years, giving us edgy editorial spreads with the latest haircare and styling trends, and featuring our favorite style icons. We've seen Eve go from her platinum TWA to her signature braids, Monica go from her "Don't Take It Personal" precision cut to slayed extensions, and all the chic transitions of our favorite Real Housewives. We've also read stories about style trends and techniques from the industry's top stylists.

Today, the brand is set for a major refresh with its new CEO, Lia Dias, a Los Angeles native with her own personal connection to the haircare world. As founder of The Girl Cave LA, a growing chain of beauty supply stores with locations in California and Texas, Dias has always been someone not afraid to take risks and create the change she wants to see. Trained as a social worker and leaving the industry after not finding fulfillment, she took $30,000 in savings to start her first location.

It's been up and onward ever since.

Image by Ashli Brown

"I grew up going to beauty supply stores to get ready for the weekend, you know, on a Friday night," she recalled. "So it was just natural for me. I love being in beauty supply stores, but I always felt like I was never treated like a customer. I always felt like I was being treated with an air of suspicion. I wanted to create something that felt good for me. I'm from Inglewood, so [it had to be] something that felt good for my friends, my sisters. And so I started with the small store. April actually makes six years, and now we have seven locations."

Dias is adding to the growing number of black-owned beauty supply stores in a multibillion-dollar industry that's far from diverse when it comes to ownership. Seventy percent of the nation's stores are owned by Korean-Americans, yet African-Americans spend more than $600 million on personal soap and ethnic hair and beauty aids, according to a recent Nielson report. In other words, we buy a whole lot of products from these types of stores but we don't have a major share of the behind-the-scenes buying power, customer service protocols, community investment or influence.

Dias has been empowering other women in ownership via her franchise model, and several of her stores are female-owned as well. "My husband and I are franchisees of a juice bar called Juice It Up!, and I love the model. I love the support that the corporate office gives us because we knew what we wanted to do but we didn't know how to do it. I would have a lot of women come to me say, 'I want a beauty supply store,' and they'd want to know about how do I get started. I thought, well, why don't I expand the stores?" she says. "My goal is to have stores across the country, but the reality is that I'm a mother of three.

"I have a husband who has a career that I help him and support him through, and I have my own career and ambition. So I knew that I wouldn't be able to run retail stores by myself across the country. I thought about this franchise model and I said, 'This is the best way to [not only] expand the stores, but to also give people an opportunity to get into ownership without having to figure out this beauty supply model on its own.'"

With Dias's model, prospective owners must go through an application process, pay a fee, and invest to start their store. Upon approval, they are given the tools they need to succeed including access to vendors, how-tos on setting up their store, and information on how to run the business.

"We go through the interview process and we really see who will fit the model and make sure that their finances are in line with what it takes to run a store," Dias explains. "Then we approve people based upon their tenacity and what we feel like would be a good fit for the brand. It's [not so much] about how much money you have personally. We really are looking for the right family, the right person, the right partnership that will go well with what we're creating."

Image by Ashli Brown

Dias's venture into acquiring Hype Hair came about in the same strategic way she was able to expand the Girl Cave LA brand. She'd been interviewed for the magazine, and after building a relationship with the magazine's previous owners, she was able to step into the CEO role.

"I'd never get too excited when I have good sales months. I've always put money away. I didn't know what it was, but every time I had these good sales month, I'm like, 'Let me just put this money away.' So by the grace of God, when this opportunity came up, I didn't have to go to a bank. I didn't have to go borrow the money. I had it stockpiled from years of savings from my retail stores, so that when the opportunity came up and it was almost down to the dollar of what I had saved over the last few years, that was another indication to me that this was what I was supposed to be doing. I didn't have to stretch for it."

Due to its built-in audience, long-standing presence in publishing, and popularity in the haircare industry, Hype Hair has served as the perfect opportunity for Dias to get into something that has the potential to continue growing in spaces she's passionate about. "I want to really give a more full picture," she adds.

"We're doing the same things—editorials featuring hairstylists and hairstyles that are on the cutting edge and inspirational—but the other thing that I'm really bringing to the magazine is I want to infuse more of the culture into it."

"We're talking about a lot of women who are in the hair industry and telling their stories because I feel like those stories are powerful, too," she adds. "A lot of the stories that we're telling, we're making sure that we tell them very boldly. We're giving a lot of color. We're giving a lot of things that grab people's attention because this is a digital magazine and what comes down to it is the clicks and impressions. We want to provide useful, meaningful content."

For more of Lia, follow her on Instagram.

Featured image by Joseph Ford/Gifted Mindset

You may not know her by Elisabeth Ovesen – writer and host of the love, sex and relationships advice podcast Asking for a Friend. But you definitely know her other alter ego, Karrine Steffans, the New York Times best-selling author who lit up the literary and entertainment world when she released what she called a “tell some” memoir, Confessions of a Video Vixen.

Her 2005 barn-burning book gave an inside look at the seemingly glamorous world of being a video vixen in the ‘90s and early 2000s, and exposed the industry’s culture of abuse, intimidation, and misogyny years before the Me Too Movement hit the mainstream. Her follow-up books, The Vixen Diaries (2007) and The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce And Keep The Man You Want (2009) all topped the New York Times best-seller list. After a long social media break, she's back. xoNecole caught up with Ovesen about the impact of her groundbreaking book, what life is like for her now, and why she was never “before her time”– everyone else was just late to the revolution.

xoNecole: Tell me about your new podcast Asking for a Friend with Elisabeth Ovesen and how that came about.

Elisabeth Ovesen: I have a friend who is over [at Blavity] and he just asked me if I wanted to do something with him. And that's just kinda how it happened. It wasn't like some big master plan. Somebody over there was like, “Hey, we need content. We want to do this podcast. Can you do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And that's that. That was around the holidays and so we started working on it.

xoNecole: Your life and work seem incredibly different from when you first broke out on the scene. Can you talk a bit about the change in your career and how your life is now?

EO: Not that different. I mean my life is very different, of course, but my work isn't really that different. My life is different, of course, because I'm 43. My career started when I was in my 20s, so we're looking at almost 20 years since the beginning of my career. So, naturally life has changed a lot since then.

I don’t think my career has changed a whole lot – not as far as my writing is concerned, and my stream of consciousness with my writing, and my concerns and the subject matter hasn’t changed much. I've always written about interpersonal relationships, sexual shame, male ego fragility, respectability politics – things like that. I always put myself in the center of that to make those points, which I think were greatly missed when I first started writing. I think that society has changed quite a bit. People are more aware. People tell me a lot that I have always been “before my time.” I was writing about things before other people were talking about that; I was concerned about things before my generation seemed to be concerned about things. I wasn't “before my time.” I think it just seems that way to people who are late to the revolution, you know what I mean?

I retired from publishing in 2015, which was always the plan to do 10 years and retire. I was retired from my pen name and just from the business in general in 2015, I could focus on my business, my education and other things, my family. I came back to writing in 2020 over at Medium. The same friend that got me into the podcast, actually as the vice president of content over at Medium and was like, “Hey, we need some content.” I guess I’m his go-to content creator.

xoNecole: Can you expound on why you went back to your birth name versus your stage name?

EO: No, it was nothing to expound upon. I mean, writers have pen names. That’s like asking Diddy, why did he go by Sean? I didn't go back. I've always used that. Nobody was paying attention. I've never not been myself. Karrine Steffans wrote a certain kind of book for a certain kind of audience. She was invented for the urban audience, particularly. She was never meant to live more than 10 years. I have other pen names as well. I write under several names. So, the other ones are just nobody's business right now. Different pen names write different things. And Elisabeth isn’t my real name either. So you'll never know who I really am and you’ll never know what my real name is, because part of being a writer is, for me at least, keeping some sort of anonymity. Anything I do in entertainment is going to amass quite a bit because who I am as a person in my private life isn't the same a lot of times as who I am publicly.

xoNecole: I want to go back to when you published Confessions of a Video Vixen. We are now in this time where people are reevaluating how the media mistreated women in the spotlight in the 2000s, namely women like Britney Spears. So I’d be interested to hear how you feel about that period of your life and how you were treated by the media?

EO: What I said earlier. I think that much of society has evolved quite a bit. When you look back at that time, it was actually shocking how old-fashioned the thinking still was. How women were still treated and how they're still treated now. I mean, it hasn't changed completely. I think that especially for the audience, I think it was shocking for them to see a woman – a woman of color – not be sexually ashamed.

I hate being like other people. I don't want to do what anyone else is doing. I can't conform. I will not conform. I think in 2005 when Confessions was published, that attitude, especially about sex, was very upsetting. Number one, it was upsetting to the men, especially within urban and hip-hop culture, which is built on misogyny and thrives off of it to this day. And the women who protect these men, I think, you know, addressing a demographic that is rooted in trauma that is rooted in sexual shame, trauma, slavery of all kinds, including slavery of the mind – I think it triggered a lot of people to see a Black woman be free in this way.

I think it said a lot about the people who were upset by it. And then there were some in “crossover media,” a lot of white folks were upset too, not gonna lie. But to see it from Black women – Tyra Banks was really upset [when she interviewed me about Confessions in 2005]. Oprah wasn't mad [when she interviewed me]. As long as Oprah wasn’t mad, I was good. I didn't care what anybody else had to say. Oprah was amazing. So, watching Black women defend men, and Black women who had a platform, defend the sexual blackmailing of men: “If you don't do this with me, you won't get this job”; “If you don't do this in my trailer, you're going to have to leave the set”– these are things that I dealt with.

I just happened to be the kind of woman who, because I was a single mother raising my child all by myself and never got any help at all – which I still don't. Like, I'm 24 in college – not a cheap college either – one of the best colleges in the country, and I'm still taking care of him all by myself as a 21-year-old, 20-year-old, young, single mother with no family and no support – I wasn’t about to say no to something that could help me feed my son for a month or two or three.

xoNecole: We are in this post-Me Too climate where women in Hollywood have come forward to talk about the powerful men who have abused them. In the music industry in particular, it seems nearly impossible for any substantive change or movement to take place within music. It's only now after three decades of allegations that R. Kelly has finally been convicted and other men like Russell Simmons continue to roam free despite the multiple allegations against him. Why do you think it's hard for the music industry to face its reckoning?

EO: That's not the music industry, that's urban music. That’s just Black folks who make music and nobody cares about that. That's the thing; nobody cares...Nobody cares. It's not the music industry. It's just an "urban" thing. And when I say "urban," I say that in quotations. Literally, it’s a Black thing, where nobody gives a shit what Black people do to Black people. And Russell didn't go on unchecked, he just had enough money to keep it quiet. But you know, anytime you're dealing with Black women being disrespected, especially by Black men, nobody gives a shit.

And Black people don't police themselves so it doesn't matter. Why should anybody care? And Black women don't care. They'll buy an R. Kelly album right now. They’ll stream that shit right now. They don’t care. So, nobody cares. Nobody cares. And if you're not going to police yourself, then nobody's ever going to care.

xoNecole: Do you have any regrets about anything you wrote or perhaps something you may have omitted?

EO: Absolutely not. No. There's nothing that I wish I would've gone back and said to myself, no. I don’t think at 20-something years old, I'm supposed to understand every little thing. I don't think the 20-something-year-old woman is supposed to understand the world and know exactly what she's doing. I think that one of my biggest regrets, which isn't my regret, but a regret, is that I didn't have better parents. Because a 20-something only knows what she knows based on what she’s seen and what she’s been taught and what she’s told. I had shitty parents and a horrible family. Just terrible. These people had no business having children. None of them. And a lot of our families are like that. And we may pass down those familial curses.

*This interview has been edited and condensed

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Feature image courtesy of Elisabeth Ovesen

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