There are few people in media who radiate the kind of glowing, positive, and unabashedly joyful energy quite like Jonathan Van Ness.
Known primarily for their co-hosting duties as the resident beauty guru on Netflix’s Queer Eye reboot, it is the magnetic charm and personality of Van Ness (who is non-binary and uses “they,” “he,” and “she” pronouns) that has helped them build the foundation of a media empire that spans everything from New York Times bestselling books, soldout standup comedy tours, and, most recently, a second Netflix series based on their wildly successful podcast, Getting Curious with Jonathan Van Ness. Whether they intended it or not, Van Ness is an entrepreneur by every definition and their latest endeavour is just another addition to their impressive CV.
Launched in 2021, JVN Hair is the result of over two years of development that shifts the focus on hair concern over hair type via its hero ingredient, hemisqualane (a derivative of bio-fermented sugarcane.) Naturally, the vegan haircare brand is an extension of Van Ness. Yes, it’s a product that performs, but it’s also a platform where Van Ness can parlay their values, mission, and body of work through the lens of beauty. It’s one that espouses inclusivity, sustainability, and a larger dialogue around what it truly means to have freedom of self-expression—or, as they put it, to “come as you are.”
You have your own hair care line, JVN Hair. Why was that important for you to start for yourself?
It was something that I never realized I would have an opportunity to do. I love to learn and am a natural student, and the beauty industry and beauty brands are no exception [to my curiosity]. I always loved styling and playing with hair. And then I became a hairdresser and got to experiment with different brands and on different types of hair. I’ve learned so much throughout my career and have got to interview all of these incredible product formulators and chemists, so it just felt natural.
It also felt empowering to start JVN Hair because I realized that through my platform, I can affect change and do so in spaces where you wouldn’t even think that you can affect change. Beauty is one of those undercover spaces where we can affect a lot of change without even realizing it.
What kind of conversation are you looking to have when you talk about hair?
I think part of what is so incredible and unifying about hair is its relationship to self-expression. I was always made to feel weird for wanting to express myself differently. I don’t want anyone to feel weird for the ways that they want to express themselves because this is all such a joy that we’re even here and get to have this experience to live. I want people to feel free to express themselves.
The reason why we say “Come as you are” [at JVN Hair] is that I want to celebrate everyone as they are. You’re welcome to play in this gorgeous haircare sandbox no matter your age, race, gender—we’re here for you. You’re allowed to feel glamorous, you’re allowed to feel your best self, and you’re allowed to investigate your hair as a form of self-expression over here. You’re allowed to do that.
How do you access your joy?
I think we think of joy as this existential, earth-shattering type of joy. But it’s all the little things and I think this is why I’m so happy all the time. I survived meth addiction. I am happy to take a deep breath and not have a crazy craving for hardcore drugs. I am so grateful to be able to take a deep breath and look outside and feel how I feel. Every day feels like a vacation for me. Finding that smaller joy is about being present. It’s the biggest gift that you can give to yourself.
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