Leyla Milani featured as one of Beauty Store Business magazine Top 20 CEOs
Leyla Milani has seemingly done it all: She attended the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising, launched her own denim line and eventually became a household name as a briefcase model on the hit TV show Deal or No Deal. But despite her many talents, the conversation has always come back to one thing: her hair.
“Growing up, everyone always has something [they’re known for]. And for me, my hair was always my trademark,” Milani says. Fate would prove this again when she appeared on the popular game show. “My hair was always big and wild; they always wanted my hair that way. I became known for my hair.” Before she knew it, she was constantly receiving fan mail asking about her hair and what products she used. And sometimes, people accused her hair of being fake. Milani decided to embrace the all-around fascination with her hair and turn lemons into lemonade.
“Everyone wants my hair; but not everyone was born with it,” Milani says of the initial idea. At the time, the only options for women, she says, were to get glue-in or sewn-in extensions at a salon. “I wanted to create a more affordable option.” And so she created her own line of clip-in, 100% human-hair extensions.
Soon came positive feedback from customers, and even requests for additional products. Milani delivered with fun styling tools, such as The Triple Threat Inter- changeable Ceramic Curling Iron, the Miracle Brush and the Give It To Me Straight Ceramic Flat Iron.
Finally, it seemed, Milani was able to take her natural gift—her hair—and merge it with her true passion—business. “Time really flies when you’re doing something you love,” she says. “You [must] have passion for the business. Doing what I do now, it’s truly my passion and makes me happy at the end of the day.”
Within a year of the brand’s launch, Milani’s products were on the shelves of major chains, including Planet Beauty and Ricky’s NYC. Today, Leyla Milani Hair can be found in more than 100 stores and salons.
Whether it’s dealing with shipping or distribution or product prototypes, Milani says the life of a CEO isn’t always glamorous. “Those setbacks are there, but you [must] have the enthusiasm to keep going out there and building your brand. No one cares as much as you do and knows it as well as you do.”
As for new dreams, Milani is focused on perfecting the brand’s haircare line, which will include shampoos and conditioners. She also has her eyes set on working with another major chain: “My dream is to get into ULTA. That’s the plan right now. I feel it’d be a great synergy.”