Toronto Local: Laura Armstrong of Dirty Blonde on making a product from a personal need

Dirty Blonde is dry shampoo that uses a natural vegan formula which absorbs oil and will leave your roots looking clean and feeling refreshed and yes...without having to wash your hair! Dirty Blonde is owned and operated by Laura Armstrong, an entrepreneur in Toronto. This local ecommerce shop owner had a personal pain point that birthed a product and an entire business in the natural beauty industry.

How did you come up with the idea of Dirty Blonde?

What sparked my creation of Dirty Blonde Dry Shampoo was having to wash my hair when travelling. Packing all the needed products and tools to bring my wet hair to life takes up so much space in my bag! I knew I needed to start using dry shampoo. 

When looking at the market for a solution, the majority of dry shampoos were white in colour. Where was the Dry Shampoo for Dirty Blondes? Brunettes? Redheads? Worst of all, why was the application process so awful? 

Dirty Blonde Dry Shampoo was born. It is a completely personalized experience where you can choose your shade, your preferred scent, and apply it will ease with an application brush and container that can fit right in your makeup bag

Laura Armstrong, the founder of Dirty Blonde

I am a very lazy person so I love the idea of dry shampoo - can you tell me how does it work compared to normal shampoos?

That’s the thing - using dry shampoo doesn’t make you lazy! Some of the most driven people I know swear by it. Imagine getting an hour back in your busy mornings? Think of all the other things you could be doing instead of washing and styling your hair! While COVID-19 impacted the beauty industry overall with the decrease in in-store shopping, people are also changing their beauty routines and investing more in at-home beauty solutions that align with more digital social and professional interactions.

Washing your hair everyday is very damaging to your hair follicle and scalp. Decreasing the amount of times you wash your hair every week will have long-term benefits. You won't have to get your hair done as often, and your scalp will experience less ‘stripping’ of its natural oils reducing itching and flakes.

Dry shampoo makes an easy travel and gift option, too, as it's easy to transport and ship.

Why is it important that your product is natural and vegan?

What we put into and onto our bodies has a lasting impact on our health. So many ingredients are put into products just to prolong their shelf-life and have no benefit to the consumer at all, and can even harm you longterm. 

There is a huge shift taking place in the market as consumers continue to educate themselves on what is actually in their products - we are learning and appreciating that less is more. Our beauty products are natural and vegan and we're open about our ingredients.

I’ve heard this is the impossible question but quick: tell me your favourite product you’ve created for Dirty Blonde!

Dry Shampoo for sure! There are several varieties of Dry Shampoo on the market right now but all of them were ignoring a very annoying issue - the application process. Our dry shampoos are easy-to-use and hassle-free for the modern consumer.

Not only does Dirty Blonde provide a variety of shade and scent options, but we have improved the application process ten-fold. Aerosol brands go all over your sink and walls and can even make it hard to breath! Other powder-based dry shampoos come in a salt shaker container and it gets all over your face, hands, and clothes. I wanted to make this process less shameful. 

By giving you a small flat container and an application brush you can apply the product with ease and precision. You can also slip the container right into your purse and reapply throughout the day if needed. 

One of Dirty Blonde's dry shampoos

Why did you choose to build your website on Shopify?

Shopify has a clean modern look and is very user friendly. I like that it is solely focused on supporting e-commerce. Beyond the platform they really push to support you with events, webinars, and even small business loans. They go beyond providing a service by giving you a community to rely on and ask questions to, as well. 

What other tech or online tools have helped your business explode in growth? 

Facebooks Ads made a difference in my marketing and customer acquisition. You have to spend time educating yourself on Facebook Ads and how they can benefit or be used for your small business. Its not necessarily an easy process to learn but it's worth investing the time into it.

What other opportunities have led to success?

My story was featured on the podcast ‘Side Hustle School’ over a year ago and it meant a lot. Side Hustle School is a very popular podcast that I listen to everyday to keep me inspired. To be featured on the show demonstrated to me that all the hard work was paying off. I saw a big uptick in sales when the episode dropped, which was an incredible feeling!

How can other people become a leader in natural beauty, like you?

I think people assume you need to be an expert on a topic in order to start a business or create a product. This just isn’t true. Some of the best businesses were founded because a consumer had an unmet need and found a way to do it themselves. You need to see the white space that everyone else is missing and be the one to fill that gap.

Lead with intention and integrity and allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them. 

What does your business look like when you’ve achieved all your goals and dreams for it?

That’s a hard one to answer. I have always needed a side project in my life. I am a genuinely curious person and so I always will need a creative outlet to explore new interests. 

What I have taught myself in the last two years by starting this business has been so helpful to my own career growth and confidence. If I am able to grow this to something much bigger than what it is right now, that would be incredible. 

The overall goal was to see this as an investment in myself and my abilities. I see this being achieved everyday as I continue to push myself to learn and take bigger risks.

To quote Mae West, “You only live once, but if you do it right, once is enough.”

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Running a side business or a full-time company takes a lot of trust in yourself and I loved learning how Laura Armstrong has only grown more in her career and her confidence by operating Dirty Blonde. I love that the Dry Shampoo is made of natural ingredients, too. I also hate to check luggage because I am too impatient and I really appreciate the ability to pack this in my carry-on travel bag easily. It's great to hear from a founder that had a pain point in her personal life and turned it into a successful product and business. What chore do you deal with daily that you want a solution for? Come up with the solution yourself and you could create a product that customers have been waiting for!

Samantha Lloyd

Samantha Lloyd is the co-founder and CEO of Metaranx.