Interview with Jennifer Bahney of Longhairlovers.com
by D.A. Fox
"Our goal is to become the most trusted source for long hair care and information." -Jennifer Bahney, Longhairlovers.com, Inc.
Jennifer Bahney is a professional journalist whose love of long hair led her to become a trichologist (hair and scalp expert) as well. She has a bachelors degree from Smith College and a master of journalism from Northwestern University. Jennifer has worked as a producer for CNN Headline News and in marketing for Chase Financial Corporation. She's studied with Dr. George Michael and The International Association of Trichologists. Dr. George Michael is considered the best of the best in the long hair industry. His clients are known for their healthy long locks, and when you want to have confidence walking into a salon, knowing it's a GM salon gives you that peace of mind.
Jennifer founded Longhairlovers.com in 1999. It has grown to become a favorite among the long hair lovers around the world. Longhairlovers.com is opererated by Longhairlovers.com, Inc., which is an Ohio corporation solely owned by Jennifer. When asked what her dream was for LHL, she said, "Our goal is to become the most trusted source for long hair care and information."
Jennifer, when did you become interested in growing out your hair?
"I've always loved the look of healthy long hair, but never had hair below my shoulders until college. My mom kept my hair in a short pixie cut when I was little; everyone thought I was a boy! It was probably because it was easier for her to take care of. In junior high and high school, I was more interested in experimenting with perms and color than I was in having healthy hair. Since those things take a real toll on hair, I had to cut it often.
In college, I finally decided to go back to my natural color and to grow it out. But I didn't really know what I was doing - didn't know how important trims and deep treatments were - so it never looked very good! I then vascillated between a shoulder-length bob and mid-back length hair for years.
While in graduate school specializing in broadcast journalism, I was told that long hair just didn't look good on camera, so I went back to the above-shoulder bob. After going into public relations, I finally felt I had the freedom to wear my hair any way I wanted. That's when I first heard about the George Michael system for long hair. Amazingly enough, there was a long hair salon in my city (Cleveland, Ohio), so I made an appointment with Lance & Jody at Enchantress. They taught me the correct way to grow and care for long hair and I visit them to this day, even though I live 3 1/2 hours away!"
Why did you create Longhairlovers?
"I really got interested in the Internet in 1999 and started to teach myself HTML. I wanted to create a web site on something I was interested in, and long hair was definitely my hobby. The name "Longhairlovers" seemed like a good fit and I registered the URL in June 1999. The first site was very simple - just a discussion board and some long hair art work."
When Longhairlovers started, did you have a vision for it to grow like it did?
"I never initially envisioned Longhairlovers as a business, but the site started to attract so much traffic that I wondered if I could somehow make a living doing what I loved."
You started your own line of hair care, at first a natural soap based product, and later a full line of mainstream products. Are you still producing the LHL hair care line?
"Longhairlovers has gone through a painful growing phase in the last couple of years. The company started small, with me mixing my soap-based shampoo and filling orders from my basement. LHL was also the first online company to offer the Hairagami line of styling tools. I reinvested every penny I made into developing the line of salon-quality products and began offering the Milky Waves shampoo & conditioner, Meadowfoam Deep Treatment, and Organic Protection Creme.
In the early spring of 2001, I was approached by two businessmen from New York who wanted to invest money and help me take Longhairlovers "to the next level." We had all sorts of plans for developing the site and product offerings. Unfortunately, things didn't go as planned. I gave up two-thirds ownership in the company and lost control of the decision-making process. LHL was relaunched as a pay-for-membership site in April 2002. I tried to make the best of the situation but saw that it was rapidly going downhill by November/December 2002. Since I couldn't sit back and watch my "baby" die, I started expensive legal proceedings to reclaim the site. Fortunately, I never gave up rights to the trademarked name "Longhairlovers" or the URL. After 7 months of legal wrangling, I finally got my site back.
I feel beyond horrible for the way some of our members were treated by the "management team." Emails went unanswered and refunds were never sent. I know that a lot of people are very upset with the way things turned out, especially since the site had always been run with the utmost integrity up until the investor's involvement.
I'd like people to know that although I received a minumum salary from the investor's money for the first year, I never saw a penny from any of the business transactions - never even saw financial statements to know how we were doing. I was left with nothing but the LHL name, URL, and some content.
I'm now rebuilding from the ground up by once again investing my own money on web server space, discussion boards and weblog services. The content is once again free to everyone. Revenue is generated by sales of ads, our LHL Style Gear and our French-made line of LHL Accessories. Liquid products may come again in the future."
When I first found Longhairlovers, I found a site that captured my attention first with the discussion board. I'd never seen a board for discussing ways to grow out your hair! I was thrilled. Then I saw the home page and just loved the romantic, historical feel it had with the pictures from John William Waterhouse, Dante, and others. It just evoked a connection between the pictures, and my long hair goals. I just loved it. Over the years Longhairlovers has gone through some "remodeling." The home page was updated to a more modern look. Some loved it and some preferred the old style. What prompted you to take a more mainstream look for LHL?
"Although I've been accused of "comercializing" Longhairlovers, I feel it's important to bring long hair into the mainstream. Unfortunately, there's still a perception out there that people with very long hair are "kooky" or not fashion conscious. I'd like to change that."
Now that your partnership has been legally dissolved, you have re-launched Longhairlovers and it is back under your total control. What are some of the new things LHL has to offer?
"We've got brand new discussion boards that have a ton of features. We're also offering free Weblogs, or 'blogs, which are like online journals. Visitors can post about anything they like - from their hair care routines to everyday life. They can even post photos. I'm using my Weblog to let people know what's new on the site and to keep track of my first pregnancy. I'm due in October. I'm also concentrating more on how to achieve a total look through fashion and beauty, as well as healthy long hair."
Over the years I've known you, you've gone from being interested in growing out your hair to becoming a trichologist! That's a great achievement! What made you decide to seriously study in this field? Do you feel this helps you to better meet the needs of your visitors?
"I'm very interested in the science of hair growth and care and wanted to educate myself so I could really help our visitors. It's much more important to me than simply recommending hair care products. People who want to grow healthy long hair really need to understand the importance of nutrition, exercise, massage and stress reduction, since healthy long hair starts from within."
What do you think is the biggest mistake people make while trying to grow out their hair?
"Hair care products will never deliver miracles. They will cleanse and moisturize your hair, but you really need to start from the inside to ensure healthy hair growth. People also need to understand that hair generally grows 1/2" per month and they need to be patient when growing out. It's a long-term commitment."
What are some basic tips that you feel are "key" in growing out hair to longer lengths?
"First, make sure you're in good health. Hormonal and nutritional imbalances will throw your hair growth - as well as your life - completely out of whack. Educate yourself about nutrition, inncluding vitamins and supplements. Go easy on caffeine and alcohol, and definitely QUIT SMOKING! Smoking will age your skin and hair like nothing else.
Once you're confident your healthy body will grow healthy hair, you need to take gentle care of the growth. Many people who feel they can't grow long hair are really experiencing breakage. That is, their hair is growing, but it's breaking off before it reaches great lengths due to sun, chemical, and styling damage."
How long was your hair when you first decided to grow it out?
"I seriously started growing my hair in May 1999 when it was shoulder-length."
How long is your hair now?
"I'm at about 40 inches, which is below tailbone-length on me (I'm 5'4")."
How long do you want to grow?
"Good question! I guess the floor's the limit, so to speak, as long as it continues to look thick and healthy."
How often do you trim your hair?
"I trim my own split ends according to the moon cycles. For a serious trim, usually about once a year, I visit Enchantress Salon in Olmsted Falls, Ohio."
I'm so excited to hear that you are expecting a baby! Congratulations! Are you doing anything different with your hair now that you are pregnant?
"Thanks so much! Well, I was feeling a bit dumpy, so I put some chunky blonde highlights around my face. I've only been retouching the roots to prevent too much damage. My goal is to balance length and style."
What should pregnant women consider before deciding to have chemical services done?
"Many women experience a change in hair texture when the pregnancy hormones kick in. That's why a perm is usually not recommended. The jury is still out on whether hair color penetrates the scalp and can affect the baby. Highlights are generally considered safer because they don't penetrate the skin as much. To be safe, ask your OB before using any kind of chemical when you're pregnant."
You always hear women say they have to cut their hair off so it will be easier when the baby arrives. Do you find long hair to be easier to keep up with or harder?
"Definitely easier! I only have to wash my hair twice a week and can create a nice updo without too much fuss. When my hair was shoulder-length, I had to shampoo every day, plus use a blowdryer and curling iron. What a pain!"
Longhairlovers is now supported by advertising. If someone wanted to advertise with you, where should they contact you for information?
"They can contact Burst Media by following this link:"
Jennifer, thanks so much for your time. You've been an inspiration to me for a long time, and it's an honor to do an interview with you!
"Thank you, Fox!"
You can visit Jennifer at: Longhairlovers.com
17/34.75/35+ Type 2CMii (3B underneath layer) Somewhat fine, slightly wavy (with curls on the underneath layer), light brown with gold and red highlights. To see more pictures, click on the gallery collection link found here:
"Watch your thoughts, for they become words. Choose your words, for they become actions. Understand your actions, for they become habits. Study your habits, they will become your character. Develop your character for it becomes your destiny." -John MacArthur
Aubrey Organics S&C
Nature's Gate Conditioners (As well as Forest Pure, another brand made by the makers of Nature's Gate)
Oils: Jojoba, Sweet Almond, Virgin Oil de Coco Creme, Monoi, Castor, Meadowfoam Seed & essential oils
Shea Butter (from which I make my own leave-in)
MP Popular Mix Brush
Wood and Horn combs