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Meet Ashley Feinberg

Today we’d like to introduce you to Ashley Feinberg.

Hi Ashley, thanks for sharing your story with us. To start, maybe you can tell our readers some of your backstories.
After working in several office and management positions and feeling unfulfilled, I went to cosmetology school. I had the intention of using my business skills and the cosmetology trade to open a salon. While I was in cosmetology school, I became fascinated with the products we were using and their ingredients.

The product line was not vegan or clean. I took my favorite product – a keratin repairing mask – and decided I would try to make a vegan version with clean ingredients. It took a lot of research and trial and error.

After researching and trying many combinations, and dealing with separation and other texture issues, I finally found a combination of ingredients that worked very well for my hair, while being free of the nasty chemicals I was learning about and wanted to avoid.

I worked part-time in an organic salon after cosmetology school while I continued to make more formulas. The first collection was a Moisturizing Shampoo, Conditioner, Recovery Oil, and Mask. After a while, I decided I wanted to focus on making products and I stopped working in the salon to dedicate my time to building the product line out.

My friend Brandon Balderrama at Liberated Salon was the first to carry the product line, and it was renamed Kavella. Kavela means the lotus flower in Sanskrit. The stylists at Liberated Salon began asking for specific products – a volumizing line, styling products, etc.

After 4 years of handmaking all the products myself, and gaining some interest from other salons through organic social media posting and word-of-mouth, I partnered with a local small-batch manufacturer. The first set of Kavella products was manufactured in 2017.

This is also when I got my first fulfillment warehouse and hired my first employee to help pack and ship orders.

Several of the products are still handmade by me to this day, but most of them are now made by our local partner. We moved our warehouse from our original location in Canoga Park to a space double the size in Newbury Park. I shifted a lot of focus to refillable and recyclable packaging.

I’m very excited because we are making some big sustainability changes with our packaging in the next couple of months – replacing almost half our product line with non-plastic packaging!

We have continued to grow as a small, indie, and woman-owned brand and have yet to take on any investors or partners.

This means we can care more about our product quality, using the best plant-based ingredients, and we can make shift adjustments to packaging or formulas as needed to be more green, sustainable, and healthy for our stylists, consumers, and the planet.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Not at all. In the beginning, I made several formulas that separated in the bottle on the shelf. I had to learn everything about cosmetic formulating by taking courses and through a thousand trial batches of every type of product, from shampoos and conditioners to styling products and treatments.

Formulating is definitely still my favorite part of what I do, but I’ve had to learn every other aspect of the business myself. Bookkeeping, advertising, marketing, social media, supply chain management, building websites, how to source ingredients, and how to practice GMP (Good Manufacturing Practice) for making the products in a clean, safe environment with proper record keeping.

I’m also a mom to a toddler and have my second child on the way. The personal struggles of going through pregnancy, having a newborn than a toddler, and now doing it again, while also running a business – there can be challenges maintaining a work/life balance. These are the struggles of every working mother.

We’re still small and have a long way to go, so there will be many more struggles in the future, I’m sure!

We’ve been impressed with Kavella, but for folks who might not be as familiar, what can you share with them about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Kavella is a full product line of shampoos, conditioners, styling products, and treatments for hair and scalp.

The products are 100% vegan and gluten-free and use the highest quality plant-based and safe ingredients for salon professional performance without any of the harsh or toxic chemicals found in most product lines. We’re proud to be indie and woman-owned.

We are also proud to offer many refillable options, and we are moving even further into sustainability by changing half of our product line to aluminum packaging within the next 6 months.

What matters most to you? Why?
We’re always striving for the cleanest formula possible for any individual product, and we have prioritized using more sustainable packaging options at every opportunity.

We also make products for every hair type and texture. Fine, coarse, thin, thick, straight, wavy or curly, long or short. We have something for everyone. We also have a hypoallergenic shampoo and conditioner set for anyone with even more rare allergies such as aloe. We want every person to have options within our product line, which makes it an ideal product line to carry in a salon environment.

We also prioritize supporting animal rights and welfare organizations. We have hosted Braid Bars at charity events for dogs and donated to several animal rights and welfare organizations. You can find our current list of charities at https://www.kavella.com/pages/for-the-animals. We rotate these from time to time.

Contact Info:

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