Create & Cultivate 100: Beauty: Nikki Lee & Riawna Capri

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If you’re someone who screenshots celeb haircuts to bring to your own hairstylist, chances are you’re already familiar with Nikki Lee & Riawna Capri’s work without even knowing it.

The dynamic duo co-founded the esteemed Nine Zero One salon in West Hollywood almost a decade ago, where they quickly made a name for themselves as two of the go-to stylists for the Hollywood elite. In keeping with the town’s tabloid tradition, they even have a BFF pseudonym: Caprilee. The two BFFs-turned-business-partners have steadily been growing their business portfolio with the launch of their luxury hair care treatment brand, In Common. The brand is all about ingredient transparency and confidence-building beauty. “We couldn’t do what we do without each other,” they say of their business, and their close relationship is evident in everything that they do. They also build community wherever they go. Want to take a workshop with them? Sign up for the 901 Academy. Want access to hundreds or tutorials, tips, and tricks? Sign up for their editorial platform, The Beauty Coach. Want to shower your hair with some love? Check out Raindrops, their water filtration system. These boss babes are building a seriously multidisciplinary beauty brand and you’ll want to follow their inspiring journey.

You guys have several business ventures together. How did you know you were the perfect match as business partners?

Nikki: We didn’t! It took starting our own business together to see how well we clicked and how we balance each other out.

Riawna: We learned early on to respect each other’s strengths and allow us to focus on strengths instead of trying to do everything together.

Nine Zero One is now an LA hotspot, with a roster of celebrity clients. What characteristics make you successful in the hair industry?

Riawna: We treat everyone the same! When we started Nine Zero One, we wanted to create a friendlier environment, where people actually smile at you. In L.A., there’s a pretentiousness that surrounds the area, and I feel like I don't belong half the time. That's why we created our home of good people, good energy, and good vibes.

What does it take to build a beauty business from the ground up in today’s world?

Riawna: Dedication and determination. Being fearless… not paying attention to everyone else, staying true to what you are good at.

What about your job makes you feel the most fulfilled?

Riawna: Making people look and feel beautiful. When they come into the salon and leave deciding that they want to go out that night, it makes you feel great! I love the happiness they leave with.

Nikki: We love that we’re not only giving them a cut or color, we’re giving them the feeling of confidence when they leave the salon!

How has social media impacted the growth of your businesses?

Riawna: It has helped build our careers and Nine Zero One. If you're an artist — be it a painter, chef, hair stylist, or makeup artist — social media can be used as your portfolio. No one is going go to and look at your work as much as they would if it's on Instagram. It's the best way to be able to showcase what you can do. It's free advertising.

What’s the best piece of career advice you’ve ever been given?

Nikki: Always do it for the passion and the money will come.

Riawna: I had a mentor say to me once that hair is 80% personality, 20% talent. I don’t think those numbers are completely correct, but you have someone in your chair for four to five hours and you want to make sure they have a wonderful experience. Even if you give them the best cut in the world, if you don’t connect with them, they won’t come back.

Because of social media and being able to see what other people are doing, it’s easy to become sidetracked or discouraged. Instead, you should just be focused on what you’re good at and what’s best for your brand.

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What’s been the biggest surprise or highlight of your career to date?

Riawna: Nine Zero One!

Nikki: Never in our wildest dreams did we think Nine Zero One would become what it has. We started it simply because we wanted a happy, fun work environment. It blossomed into an amazing brand that we could not be more proud of.

We believe people go to salons to look a certain way. People come to Nine Zero One to feel a certain way.

Where does your passion/drive come from?

Riawna: Our hearts. We love doing hair!

Nikki: We both had similar upbringings, we didn’t come from much so we always knew if we wanted anything we had to work very hard for it!

What are the common challenges you've seen among female hairdressers and beauty moguls?

Nikki: Because of social media and being able to see what other people are doing, it’s easy to become sidetracked or discouraged. Instead, you should just be focused on what you’re good at and what’s best for your brand. In the more recent years, it’s been nice to see women coming together and supporting each other because there’s enough to go around.

When you hit a bump or hurdle in your career, how do you find a new road and switch gears to find success?

Nikki: We’ve always been problem-solvers. When we hit a bump, we often create the solution. Take [our shower filtration system] Raindrops for example—our clients kept on getting brassy hair, so we created a water filter to prevent it!

What’s next for you two in 2019? What are you most excited for?

Riawna: The Launch of In Common Beauty, our hair care treatment line.

Nikki: BeYOUtiful days. The BeYOUtiful Foundation is our passion project we launched in July of 2018. The BeYOUtiful Foundation is a foundation designed to provide hope, love and a path to feeling BeYOUtiful, created for women of all ages defying the odds against cancer. We’re excited to onboard more salons so we can help more women in 2019!

Photography by Annie McElwain Photography

Photoshoot skincare provided by Dermalogica