This week it seemed fitting around International Women’s Day to feature our founder Multi-Award Winning Celebrity Hairstylist and Founder of Iles Formula Haircare, Wendy Iles.
Read on to know about her life and how Iles Formula became born and why it has received such loyal support from around the globe.
Iles Formula Founder / President Wendy Iles
It’s a long way from Tasmania, Australia where Wendy grew up amongst hundreds of acres of opium poppies produced by her Father for morphine medical supplies. When Wendy speaks about her childhood on that farm, it’s often about the splendor of the 360 degrees visual of mauve poppies blowing in the breeze, under a perfect blue Tasmanian summer sky.
Her parents built her a Wendy house nestled under a creeping rose in her Mother’s much-loved garden that Wendy soon transformed into a make-believe hairdressing salon, aged 7. Wendy’s most frequent customer was her Mother, in addition to the times she lured her baby brother in for a haircut!
We often say destiny is predetermined for us. In Wendy’s case, there is no doubt that hair was and always has been her first love. Her passion today, working with exotic plants and discovering their benefits for hair, most likely stems from those years growing up on her parent’s farm in Tasmania.
When we asked her to share her journey thus far, she takes us back across four decades of hair and the many stages of her career. Her higher training originally started with Vidal Sassoon in London. She was one of the first to take his technique back to Australia in the late ’70s upon which she launched a highly successful salon.
After several years of revolutionizing haircutting at the time, she received a call from Australian Vogue and as they say, the rest is history. She made the decision to sell her salon and embarked on her freelance career which took her around the world from Sydney, New York, London, and eventually to Paris where she partly resides today. Over this time, Wendy worked with the industry’s most respected photographers, stylists, make-up artists, and talent, earning her place amongst the ranks of the industry’s most coveted hairstylists. Such has been the success of Wendy’s freelance career that to this day, she continues to juggle selected celebrity and royal clients whilst maintaining her role as the Founder and President of Iles Formula.
In 2008, a coffee table book ARCHIVE was published of her European work, a beautiful testimony to her immense body of editorial archives.
Following this came the calls to work on the glamorous hair campaigns for global brands. It was on these campaigns, which were increasingly fronted by celebrities instead of the traditional hair models, that she realized the need to find an antidote against the often tortured celebrity hair. She poured her life savings and savoir-faire into developing a repair formula; a conditioner that would instantly close down the cuticles of the hair shaft without weighing the hair down, the ideal result she needed for filming with hair under hot lights for up to 15 hours a day. This type of conditioner didn’t exist on the market and so Wendy set out to develop this formula for herself, exclusively for her freelance work.
Launching a brand was never a part of her long-term vision. However, it transpired organically through the insistence of the celebrities and Royals who had graced her chair. Once they had experienced the formulas first-hand, the demand was created, immediately. To deliver their request to make this formula available to them took some digesting and as Wendy explains, “One day I took courage and I said to myself. Ok, I’m doing this, so I just jumped off the cliff and hoped I would fly.” Soon after followed a sulfate-free + paraben-free shampoo and serum to complete the trio which is known today as The Signature Collection; a collection of Wendy’s very own bespoke formulas formulated for her own work that transforms all hair types, however, damaged, to sumptuous silk texture.
And fly she did. With no advertising to put the wind under her wings, simply the conviction of the power of her formulas, Wendy soon started receiving the endorsement of Professional Salons and verification of landmark stores around the world and Iles Formula was on its way to becoming the new benchmark in haircare. And this is where Iles Formula is today. Despite a global crisis, Iles Formula has experienced unprecedented growth and demand in all sectors across Professional, Consumer, and Online.
Hollywood soon caught wind and honored Wendy’s career and her dedication to hair at the Hollywood Beauty Awards. The Oscarette she received is precious to her and sits on her desk.
“My brand is family-owned and operated.”, says Wendy, “It’s very close to my heart, my soul is in those vessels. Integrity is, and will always be, everything. I am now in a very great place with an incredible team who all believe so much in my brand. I’m truly grateful.”
To this day Wendy tests every batch of her “jewel”, the Iles Formula Conditioner herself. The magic is in the ingredients and the process, a long and complicated procedure which in itself proved tricky to find a manufacturing partner who would be happy to think outside the box in order to undertake the process.
So what’s next you may ask?
“Iles Formula takes every breath I breathe”, says Wendy. “It’s a beautiful brand and I must take care of it to be sure it stays true to itself. From the start, my mission was to be dictated by performance, not revenue. I invest an enormous amount of time in development; around 2 to 3 years and I would happily take even longer if I had to, as I will only ever launch a product that I believe is perfect on all levels. This, I believe, is a testament to why my 6 formulas often outsell other haircare brands with 40+ items in their product range. My reward? The love mails, gorgeous reviews, and tags we receive daily from all around the world. I read them all; they are very precious, all of them.”
To know more about Iles Formula visit ilesformula.com
To know more about Wendy’s work visit her portfolio
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