Meet Britta Cox, founder of AQUIS — a self-care company for your hair. After growing up not giving her hair too much thought, Britta wanted to create something to simplify her hair routine. That is when the original water-wicking hair towel was created. It was Britta’s curiosity after working in the ski industry for years where she then wanted to re-create the same high performance fabrics used for ski towels.
She then partnered with her husband and hair scientists around the world to create the first hair towel that not only dries your hair faster, but prevents Hygral Fatigue — the stretching and swelling of hair when it’s wet that makes it prone to damage and breakage.
Now years later, AQUIS is the reason behind so many hair care routines, with the new fours-step AQUIS Prime system. AQUIS was our latest sponsor for our Austin launch event earlier this month. Now, we are pleased to announce Britta Cox as our Radical Renegade. Read more below on how Britta Cox started and her advice on starting your own business.
Why did you start your company and what motivates you everyday?
Like me, I think most entrepreneurs start off to solve a problem. If they are successful to solve that problem and pursue it, the building of a business follows. I’m a very curious person and love to find solutions, and building a business requires you this every day. When I can do that while creating products that help make people’s lives better, I am beyond motivated. Building a business is just part of me, it’s not a job, it’s a way of life.
When I started AQUIS in 1990, there was no such thing as a “hair towel” or “hair turban.” All that was available was the bulky cotton bath towel that did not get the water out of hair, left it drippy wet, was heavy, pulled down on the hair and would fall off. Overall, not a good experience.
I would stretch the time between hair washes as much as I could because I found it such a hassle to dry my hair. And given I generally did not blow-dry my hair, I usually had a wet back for hours. I was working for a ski-wear brand and wearing the first wicking fabrics used in base layer clothes which were thin and lightweight yet wicked the sweat away from your body. I had my “aha” moment and knew there had to be a better solution to the big bath towel that did not work to dry hair and began my journey.
What are some of the major lessons you’ve learned along the way?
Over the years I’ve had many situations that seemed insurmountable. But by holding strong and working through the problem one step and one decision at a time, I was able to overcome some very difficult times. You learn that this is just part of being in business. And you gain confidence each time you are able to get through hard times. Its true in building a business, just like it is true in our personal lives. When times are tough, you just need to find the light forward and know you will get through it.
Tell us about a setback you’ve faced and how did you overcome it?
A significant setback was during the dot.com bust around 2008 when sales dropped by almost 50%. That took a lot of deep decisions, pivots and time to recover from. I did what all entrepreneurs do, dug deep and did what I had to do to stay afloat. I had to lay-off half of our team and focus on what was upmost critical to keep the business secure. There’s a lot to the saying, “what doesn’t kill you, makes you stronger”. You learn to manage challenge and change as part of the normal course of business. I see change happening at an ever-increasing pace. It is more important than ever to keep aware of change around you and make changes accordingly. I encourage people to get access to network, attend events, read voraciously and continue to learn how to stay relevant in an ever-changing environment.
What advice do you have for women who feel stuck in their careers?
First, know that you are not alone. More people than you imagine are facing career challenges and trying to navigate the ever-changing workplace landscape as a result of innovative technologies and the disruption of industries which is fueling the need to change.
Second, know that there are opportunities out there for you to discover. Look at this time as a chance to explore options and find a path that excites you. We live in an achievement oriented society and the fear of failure can be paralyzing. It is important to do your best not to get down or discouraged. To help you identify the path you want to take, I highly encourage people to get out and network, connect with communities and people who are also reviewing their career options, get out into the world and start connecting with people.
Also, talk with people who know you well, that and are positive and open minded. If you talk to other fearful people, they can drag you down. As an entrepreneur, if I had listened to the negative people around me and allowed them to discourage me, I would not have done anything. I think each person also needs to do whatever it is that feeds their soul. It’s key to taking the first step and then the next until you achieve your goals.
My sister is revisiting her career path at the moment. I had a recent conversation with her and she was not feeling confident in what she had accomplished because she was looking at it through the lens of how she perceived others would see her background of experiences. When she summed up her career history as she was writing her bio to attend an event, she summed it up completely differently than how I saw it, and way more insignificantly. And when she expressed to me her interest in a new career path, she also was fearful and lacking confidence.
Whereas, I saw a direct correlation to what she has done and what she wanted to do. She could not see it because she was bogged down by a lack of confidence which squelches positivism and paralyzes people. Just know, it’s human to fall into this trap of not feeling worthy, but you are! So get out there and find your path and make it happen!
We all know how difficult work/life balance is. How do you draw the line to create separation in these two spheres?
My work/life balance has been quite out of whack for a while now. There are times you simply have to give it your all, and we’ve been moving at a rapid pace for a few years now. I have a few boundaries I try to adhere to, such as sleeping 8 hours as often as I can, turning the phone off when I sleep, not working during dinner or over meals on the weekends and I try to exercise, at least on the weekends. I try to maintain my relationships with family and friends and carve out time to see or talk with them.
We love to support women-founded ventures. Is there a company/product that you’ve come across recently that you think more people should know about?
Yes, I think Elsa Jungman is someone to support with her ELSI Beauty startup. I know Elsa personally and am confident in her deep understanding of skin, products and how they benefit skin, and she has the personal values and conviction to create great products. I am personally aligned with her minimalist approach to beauty and her commitment to using fewer ingredients which are clean and efficacious. At this point, she only has one product, Let’s Start Over Moisturizing Serum. But it is something I use every day and even carry in my purse on planes with me. https://elsibeauty.com/