Paramore's Lead Singer and Stylist Challenge Norms, Bringing Colorful Hair to the Mainstream Despite Potential Offense

May 18, 2023 : Good Dye Young, founded by Hayley Williams and Brian O’Connor in 2016, has become more politically relevant than they initially anticipated. Their vision was to make cruelty-free, semi-permanent hair dyes easily accessible for teenagers, enabling them to express themselves creatively and forge connections.

What started as a small direct-to-consumer brand has expanded to over 70 product variations, extending beyond hair dyes. These products can be found in popular retailers like Sephora, Target, Sally Beauty, and Ulta Beauty. Additionally, Good Dye Young recently opened their first dedicated salon in Nashville.

During an interview for The Failure Factor podcast, the close friends shared their entrepreneurial journey, which began in 2006 when Brian coloured Hayley’s hair for the first time. However, their story originates from a much earlier time when both experienced isolation and depression.

The co-founder and chief innovation officer, O’Connor, reveals that Good Dye Young is more than just hair products. He recalls facing homophobia and bullying during his youth, feeling unseen, unheard, and alone from a young age until his early twenties. O’Connor explains, “I needed someone to tell me I’m okay as I am, and I don’t need to lessen myself because of my sexuality or because I might present myself a little more effeminately one day.”

Using hair and makeup as a form of self-expression, both founders believe that colourful hair can facilitate connections, acting as a conversation starter and a symbol of unity. O’Connor hid behind his unique style, considering himself the “weirdo.” Yet, among others who had also been outcasted, his appearance became a source of safety. He states, “It was an armour and a shield, but it was also a crown… Despite the story of what someone is going through, many of the feelings are the same. There are relatable people out there. I wish I’d had more access to that.”

However, not everyone embraces Good Dye Young’s mission. Brightly coloured hair has traditionally been considered rebellious and countercultural, leading most schools and workplaces to prohibit or disapprove of such expressions. Banning creative self-expression is particularly prominent in Nashville, Tennessee, where a statewide law was recently enacted prohibiting public drag shows.

Williams, the co-founder and CEO, acknowledges that the brand’s central focus has become a significant issue in their city. She emphasizes the importance of freedom for individuals to be their authentic selves. Previously, brands were advised to remain neutral to avoid alienating potential customers. However, Williams aims to disrupt that notion. She recounted when she wore a shirt that read “Abort the Supreme Court” on stage, causing some audience members to leave. Williams believes it is not her intention to only preach to those who agree with her views.

Williams and O’Connor see their brand as a form of political resistance against conservative measures perpetuating inequality. They strive to be a part of people’s stories, providing tools and even Instagram posts that allow individuals to express their true identities.

Despite encountering numerous challenges and failures along the way, Williams and O’Connor, as first-time entrepreneurs, are proud that they haven’t given up on their vision. They acknowledge the difficulties of persevering, especially as emotional individuals dealing with depression, anxiety, and a chaotic world. However, they remain determined to make a positive impact through their brand.