Few might know the name Carolyn Aronson, but you know her haircare brand It’s a 10. If you haven’t tried the cult Miracle Leave-In Product ($ 19), then you’ve at least seen the blue bottle with with white and purple writing in YouTube hair tutorials. It’s been about 11 years since Aronson launched the spray she hoped would give everyone great hair by imparting shine, repairing damage, smoothing frizz, protecting hair color, and more, and to say the product flies off the shelf is not an exaggeration.
Aronson’s story was full of surprises from the very beginning. She was adopted when she was 2 years old and didn’t find out she was 100 percent Puerto Rican until she was 26 years old! “I always knew that I was Hispanic, but I just didn’t know of what descent. So, when I found my birth family, I ended up finding out that I’m number 11 of 12 children. I also found aunts, uncles, cousins, nieces, nephews, so there’s about 150 people,” she told POPSUGAR during a phone interview. Keep reading to learn more about her heritage and find out how Carolyn came to start the cult-favorite brand.
POPSUGAR: How did the idea for It’s a 10 come about?
Carolyn Aronson: I always wondered why there wasn’t a whole line that was great. I would cherry pick hair products from different lines that I liked. I think when I owned my salon in Southfield, MI, from 1998 to 2001, I carried 14 different lines at one point. At the time, my partner, Scott Scharg, and I actually fell into manufacturing. He asked me, “Hey, do you want to design a product, work on the packaging, and help me design it?” It was really an easy fit for me. I had to learn a lot about the actual manufacturing, but now it’s what I love to do the most. Actually picking ingredients and thinking about perfecting the products is amazing, which is how I came up with the name. It’s a 10 is literally what I say when I’m working with my chemist. If I don’t like it, I’ll say it’s only a six, and then I let them know what else we need until I get it perfect.
PS: What did you learn from being a hairstylist that helped you develop the brand?
CA: I have been doing hair for 34 years, so this gave me the ability to really understand what all different hair types need. It’s really important to have multifunctional products that give you instant results.
PS: What was your vision when you first started and how have you seen it change over the years?
CA: My vision was only to make the best products I possibly could and to remain innovative but also to keep them simple and easy to use. My goal was to make products that instantly deliver the miracle result. I’m still working on that to this day, but one of my main focuses is the packaging. All of bottles have the 10 things that it promises to instantly deliver, so it’s simple enough for the customer to understand.
PS: How did you come up with the concept for the bright-colored packaging?
CA: I’m so particular with it because all of the packaging is based on my favorite colors. When I created the line, now 11 years ago, I used to just look at the shelves and think, “Why does everything just look so blah? It’s whites. It’s creams. It’s pastels.” I said, “I want something that’s going to pop off that shelf, and I want to see my favorite color.” Even the bottle for the Miracle Leave-In Product isn’t a just normal cobalt blue. It’s more of an indigo blue and of course it had to have purple in it. I don’t know why people haven’t done that in the past, but that’s how I work. I go where they don’t go. Our Miracle Leave-In Product, for example, really brings hair to life. I would say it’s the third step to a woman’s morning: shampoo, conditioner, and Miracle Leave-In Product. And then you’re ready to do whatever you want to do with your hair that day.
PS: What is your own personal haircare routine?
CA: It’s exactly what I just said. It’s shampoo, conditioner, and Miracle Leave-In Product. I do switch up my shampoo and conditioner because I believe in that. Sometimes I use the Miracle Defrizzing Gel ($ 17) after or the Silk Express Miracle Silk Smoothing Balm ($ 21).
PS: You recently announced that you are now the sole owner of the It’s a 10 business – why was that important for you?
“I think it’s just good to let other people know, other women know, that you can do anything you put your mind to.”
CA: I find it fascinating that the beauty industry, especially the professional haircare world, is predominantly male-owned and run. It was important to me because I think it’s just good to let other people know, other women know, that you can do anything you put your mind to. You can actually prevail in a category or an industry that maybe hasn’t been broken into by a woman before. There are not many women-owned professional haircare brands in the world. I’m proud of the fact that I’ve come this far. And I’ve grown a lot over the last 25 years when I’ve really turned it up a notch. I was in a car accident back in 1992 and I broke my jaw and everything changed for me. I thought, “You know what? I could have died and I’m never going to live another day without turning over every rock, without trying everything I want to do, without investigating and researching and going for my dreams.” And that was really the beginning of when I took my life by the horns and took charge of it. It was a turning point for me that made me realize whatever I put my mind to I can do, and over the years I’ve managed to do it and any other woman could do it as well. Taking over the company was a major, two-and-half-year process and basically took me every penny I had. It’s almost like starting over again, and I don’t regret it for one second. I love what I do.
PS: What’s it like for you, not only being a woman, but also being a Latina CEO?
CA: It’s been a double-edged sword. I think if I can inspire one person – Latina or female – to accomplish something they’ve always dreamed of, then that’s what it’s all about. It’s about sharing your life experiences with each other so that we support each other and I’m all for that. We’re all in this together.
PS: What kind of message do you want to send to any young people out there that might want to get into the beauty business one day?
CA: The message I would send to them is: It’s great to have dreams, but success doesn’t come to you – you have to go to it. Sometimes you even have to put yourself right in the middle of it intentionally, even though it may not be where you think it’s going to be. Always make sure you’re more prepared than you need to be and that you’re at a place where you can actually make a difference . . . and be open for those opportunities that’ll bring you to the next level.