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Jihan Thompson

I’m originally from Washington, DC, but have spent the last 10 years in New York City (plus Chicago!). I thought I wanted to be the editor-in-chief of a magazine one day before launching Swivel, and spent 10 years in publishing, first at Glamour, then Marie Claire, Redbook, and O, The Oprah Magazine. Then, in 2016, I jumped ship to go full-time on my passion project: Swivel. The goal was to create an easier, more seamless way for women of color to find the best hairstylists for their hair type and texture. We wanted to simplify a process that has been too hard for too long. Meanwhile, we also wanted to help talented stylists grow their businesses. We’re truly empowering women on both sides of the chair.

In my (limited) free time these days, I love doing pottery, spinning (a new obsession!), and hanging with my husband and my goldendoodle Griffin.

What ignited you to start Swivel Beauty?

Hair is such a personal thing. And we all know when we look good, we feel good. I was a senior editor at O, The Oprah Magazine when I got the idea to start Swivel. I had a front row seat to all the new beauty/tech products, from apps to blowdry bars, hitting the market. Sadly, most of them were only great for women with straighter hair textures, and either overlooked the beauty needs of women of color or treated us as an afterthought. I was fed up, so I, along with my cofounder, decided to take the leap and create the type of beauty experience black women deserve. I’m driven by my desire to make our solution accessible to women of color across the country—and eventually the world—to alleviate the struggle to find a hairstylist, and more importantly, to show them that their beauty needs matter. When we stop treating people of color as an afterthought and address our needs, big and small, in an authentic way, I think we great a better, more inclusive world.

What was the best thing about being an editor at Oprah Magazine?

I got to go to Oprah’s house! That was a major highlight during the four years I worked at the magazine, in addition to working with some of the best writers in the biz creating content I was truly proud of.

And what is Oprah like?

Exactly what you’d expect – she’s as warm and inspiring in person as she is on TV. Moreso, actually. She’s also really funny.

What are your top 3 hair tips for women with curly hair?

Find a good hairstylist to help you find the right style (and products) for your hair type.
Deep condition regularly.
Don’t skip regular trims.

How do you respond to men and women with hair issues from other cultures who would love an app like Swivel Beauty to find a hair dresser to deal with their issues?

We’re coming for you too! We hear from women of other cultures often that they wish they had a personalized solution like the one we’ve created for women with curlier, kinkier hair textures. And our ultimate goal is to help all women, whether your hair is straight and fine, or thick and frizzy. We want to be able to make it easy for all women to look and feel their best. And that starts with finding the right stylist.

Favourite city in the world?

I recently went to Maui and fell in love. I also love visiting Jamaica – where my father is from.

Teetotaler or something stronger?

Sauvignon Blanc. Any day of the week.

Most recent indulgence?

An eight-week pack of unlimited Flywheel spin classes. As a startup founder, it’s so easy to let self-care slip. My #1 goal this year is to take care of myself as much as I take care of my business and everyone else.

Walk, bike or drive?

Walk. After 10 years in New York, I rarely drive.


Who is the one person in the world you would like to sit beside on a long flight and what would you ask her or him?

Shonda Rhimes. She’s a true inspiration and a model for what it means to go after your dreams. First question: How’d you do it?

Best advice for a woman considering becoming an entrepreneur?

Just start. If you’ve got an idea, find the simplest, fastest way to test it. Figure out if it has legs, then go for it. Don’t wait. Don’t stall. Just get started. I know it seems cliché, but I always wish we had started Swivel sooner. All those months brainstorming were nothing compared to getting out there and talking to customers and building it. Don’t wait. Do it. Now.

Favourite quote?

My dad emailed me this quote when I was in college and it has stuck with me always. I return to it often: “Nothing in this world can take the place of persistence. Talent will not: nothing is more common than unsuccessful men with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not: the world is full of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent.” —Calvin Coolidge

Last book you read?

You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero. Hey, sometimes you need a reminder. 🙂

Currently reading: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward and Venture Deals by Brad Feld and Jason Mendelson

Favourite cause, group or activist?

Tarana Burke — she spearheaded the #metoo movement and I have serious respect for what she’s done. It was a reckoning a long time coming.

****Links to your

Web site: https://www.swivelbeauty.com/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/swivelbeauty/?hl=en
Favourite cause: Dress For Success: https://dressforsuccess.org/

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