‘I don’t call it the juggle, that's what clowns do’ Rita Ora's business partner, Anna Lahey, on launching their new haircare brand

(Instagram / @ritaora)

It’s the night before Anna Lahey and Rita Ora launch Typebea, a collection of four haircare products to promote longer, stronger, healthier hair.

"It’s 8pm here in Australia," says Anna over Zoom. "Rita and I have been up since six this morning, it’s crazy. But it’s a big moment for us."

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As well as Rita’s business partner, Anna is the founder of beauty and wellness brand Vida Glow. High-functioning with an entrepreneurial, can-do spirit, Anna’s unflagging enthusiasm meant she launched the marine collagen company on her wedding day, back in 2014.

"I was straight out of uni, 24 years old. I didn't realise how many delays there would be so, yes, Vida Glow went live on our wedding day. My husband kept checking the Shopify app and when we heard that alert, notifying us that we had made our first sale, we were having pictures taken outside the church."

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Today, Vida Glow sells a unit of collagen every four seconds and Anna, a mum to four young children, is readying herself for the global launch of Typebea with her popstar business partner…

What sets Typebea apart from other haircare brands?

I think the first point of difference is that the range focuses on promoting hair growth for every hair type - that was particularly important to Rita. So whether your hair is straight, curly, coily, thin, thick, whether you have extensions or your hair is colour treated… it's an inclusive range, everyone can use it. Also, having really active ingredients makes a difference - a clinically studied dose of baicapilTM, for example, means we can make generous claims like ‘prevents hair loss by 60%’. They’re really clean formulations, too. Absolutely no parabens, no sulphates, no silicones. The other thing is that we've been able to create something really sensorial. It lathers well, feels good, smells good.

The Typebea product line-up
The Typebea product line-up

How do you use the products?

My hair is oily so I wash it everyday. But just so you know, Rita shampoos her hair once or twice a week at the most. The Strength + Length Shampoo contains salicylic acid, which creates an optimal environment for your hair to grow, and we have a keratin, plant-based Strength + Length Conditioner. What I love about the Overnight Boosting Peptides serum is that it’s 100ml, so you can apply it liberally. It’s water-based, not oily. You can use it on blow-dried hair and it won’t make it sticky or greasy. You can use it before bed and there won’t be any residue on your pillowcase. Then once a week, I apply the Hydra-Gloss Treatment from my mid-lengths down. The great thing about this product is that it activates in three minutes. It contains a biomimetic ceramide that mimics natural hairs proteins to reduce split ends. This is probably one of Rita’s favourite products.

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Did you always know that you wanted to start your own businesses?

I think I always knew that I wanted to work for myself, or that I wanted to do something different. But I would be lying if I said I knew exactly what I wanted to do, because I really didn't. It's funny, one of the great things about going to university was it brought me time.

What’s been your biggest career learning curve?

I think we made mistakes in the first few years of Vida Glow. I mean, we still make mistakes. It’s important for people to know that behind every success story there are failures. But my advice would always be to just start, take the first step. Because it's never going to be the perfect idea or the perfect plan, especially if this is your first business. I’ve evolved and the business has evolved with me. I’ve had to trust myself and the process.  I’m taking so many learnings from Vida Glow into building Typebea.

'The rising tide raises all boats. I'm a big believer in supporting other founders in this space'

Are you in touch with other female founders in the beauty category?

In Australia we have a really strong group of female-founded beauty brands. I can name Ava [Matthews] and Bec [Jefferd] from Ultraviolette. Sally Obermeder [of wellness brand Swiish]. There are so many that I have connected with. We text and send each other products, a few are messaging me today to say ‘congratulations’. Even if some of these founders have products that are competing with mine, the rising tide raises all boats. I'm a big believer in supporting other founders in this space because together we are building a category - without a category, how can your business succeed?

How did you meet Rita?

We met at a relaunch event for Vida Glow in 2021, at the time Rita was filming The Voice Australia. When you meet a celebrity, you never know what you’re going to get but she was such a delight. We sat next to each other at lunch and exchanged numbers. Rita was interested in the business and my story. And because the idea for Vida Glow was rooted in my own hair loss journey, we really connected. As a popstar, Rita’s hair has seen different colours, types of up-do, extensions, it’s been peroxide blonde. We had a lightbulb moment while sharing our experiences.

© Instagram / @anna.lahey
© Instagram / @anna.lahey

What makes Rita a good business partner?

She is really generous with her time and has an incredible work ethic. She joins me for retail pitches and speaks directly to the buyers - who are definitely not expecting her to turn up.  She works with the creative team. She's really opinionated about the formulations and passionate about the campaign look and feel. She's refreshing. A really good person.

How do you coordinate your schedules?

It's wild, I'm not going to lie. But when we’re not together, we text pretty much every day, Facetime when we need to. Rita also loves a voice note. We make it work. I'm used to running a global business and traveling a lot. Plus our retailers and the media are all on different time zones, so that's my reality. But how Rita spends that much time overseas, dealing with jetlag, then gets up on stage to perform and then goes to meetings.. She gives everything.

Instagram / @anna.lahey

'I do the best that I can with what I have. I love being a mum but I also love working.

It's a lot of sacrifice but I can do it because I have the support of my family.'

How do you figure out a life-work balance?

I do the best that I can with what I have. I love being a mum but I also love working. It's a lot of sacrifice but I can do it because I have the support of my family. My mum and dad live round the corner and move in when I go away, so the children have the consistency of my family. And then we have a wonderful nanny for support, that's the only way I can do this. And I like to be honest about that, because no one's superwoman. I don’t call it the juggle though, that's what clowns do. Women move mountains.

What do you like to do when you stay in London?

I'm quite the Anglophile, I love the stiff upper lip and the Englishness of everything here. I browse Harrods, Selfridges and Liberty. When I bring my kids, we go to Hamleys. I always stay at Claridge’s, the service is amazing. I often eat at The Twenty Two or Daphne's. Last time I was in London, Rita and I had lots of pub dinners together. She introduced me to some of her local places and we went to The Cow in Notting Hill, which was really great.

What are your predictions for the wellness category?

The ‘skinification’ of haircare, people are realising that healthy hair needs more than just a shampoo and conditioner. We should treat the scalp the same way we treat the skin on our face. It’s about prioritising the environment in which our hair grows and thrives. That's why a lot of the ingredients that you would normally find in skincare like salicylic acid and hyaluronic acid are in the Typebea range.