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Meet Hayden Wheatley of Challenger Hair Care in West LA

Today we’d like to introduce you to Hayden Wheatley.

Hayden, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
I’ve been that weird kid that was always hustling and being ridiculous for a long time. Traded Pokémon cards on the playground in elementary school, bought and sold textbooks in high school, and even asked for a cash register for my 9th birthday (and used the heck out of that thing!).

My senior year in college at USC, I got my start slinging mattresses to students. That was business number 1. I took that experience, then cold called the 2014 Inc. #2 Fastest Growing privately owned company (Quest Nutrition) and was able to work my way into a job where I learned a ton and met so many amazing people. That was invaluable for showing me how a fast growing and successful consumer packaged goods (CPG) company operates.

During this whole time, I hated the hair styling products on the market. They either stunk, or had unreliable performance (hold, ease of application, etc.) As lame as this cliché is, I knew I could figure out a better product that would work for me, and then test to see if other people liked it, too. So I took the tiny bit of money I had saved from selling more mattresses on the side while working full time, and took the leap to start Challenger Hair Care. Hometown: Bootstrap City.

Knowing where and how Challenger started, I’m insanely proud of its progress that was born with one single product in one size. Today we have 3 styling products in 2 sizes each, a legit tea tree shampoo, an awesome conditioner, and more great things ahead that we haven’t announced yet.

Has it been a smooth road?
Starting a new business from scratch is really difficult. You have to deal with (often) limited resources, make decisions with wholly incomplete information, and overcome unexpected obstacles and bumps on the road.

I remember 3 days before production of our very first run that had been months in the making, we got the thousands of custom labels that had taken so long to develop (back and forth and back and forth). And they were messed up.

Turns out, by not clarifying something I thought was clear, I had read the die line wrong, and the labels were printed upside down. Had to throw away every single label. And then buy thousands more and lose almost 2 full weeks. One of those times where you take your lumps and keep charging, because that’s all you can do.

It’s funny, looking back on that and knowing all the bigger obstacles and challenges that have come since. I’m surprised how much energy I spent being affected by that setback, when staying calm and continuing to move forward (as I would have had to anyway) would have been more efficient and effective.

So let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Challenger Hair Care story. Tell us more about the business.
Challenger helps people have good hair and personal care days so they can focus on crushing the day ahead.

Our mission and belief is that we can help people optimize themselves with thoughtfully created and exceptionally high quality products. We pour our heart and soul into everything we make, and the repeat customers and positive feedback are great motivation to keep growing and improving ourselves, our products, and the lives of as many other people as possible.

How do you think the industry will change over the next decade?
In addition to seeing more and more shopping moving online, the men’s personal care category is growing, which is really exciting. It shows that guys have a growing tolerance for self-care.

As this market as a whole continues to grow, it’ll be great to see the new and innovative products that enter the market and add value to people’s lives.

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