Manchester hairdressers Jo Ferns and Anders Rusden are taking the beauty world by storm with their clever invention – a hairbrush that gives the perfect bouffant.
Jo, 49, and Anders, 26, created the Hairshark back-combing brush in response to their hairdressing clients constantly saying “I wish I could make my hair look like that at home” when leaving their salon in Ashton.
In a bid to help them do just that, the pals set to work making a makeshift 2-in-1 brush which combined bristles for backcombing, as well as smoothing spikes like a shark’s teeth to give a sleek finish.
Now, they have celebrity endorsement from former TOWIE star Ferne McCann, and are about to jet to LA to film their first major TV advert for the Hairshark.
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Glamorous mum-of-three and gran-of-one Jo says: “Anders and I worked together in the Ashton salon where we came up with the idea, the reason being is that our clients’ favourite quote when we had done their hair was ‘I wish I could do it like that’.
“So we thought ‘OK let’s make that possible’. We literally glued bits of several brushes together on our lunch hour and came up with our first prototype.
“We used the makeshift brush freely in the salon as it worked perfectly, it was just quite ugly. But everyone we used it on and let them try it for themselves wanted to buy one so we knew we were on to something.
“Clients then gave us feedback that the volume lasted for up to 24 hrs and some had mastered the technique and achieved the look in under two minutes.
“It was purely by chance that I had a conversation with a client who saw the brush on the counter top and asked what it was.
“I explained and she offered to get a designer Barry Saadian from the Stamford group in Stalybridge where she worked to take a look. The rest is history. Barry is a genius and he took our design and beautifully crafted it into the amazing product it is today.”
After three years and 11 prototypes, Jo and Anders launched the Hairshark to market in November 2017.
And in 2018 they had a huge boost when they got the chance to pitch the product on Channel 4’s Buy It Now programme.
Jo says: “We were really well received but much of our appeal was to hairdressers. Our focus however was more on the lady sitting at home in front of a mirror wondering how the hell to get her hair looking great in just a couple of minutes. Who has half an hour to spend in hair every day? Not me, and I’m a hairdresser!
“We knew that we had to get it out to our ladies and when Channel 4’s Buy it Now came along we jumped at the chance.
“The concept of the show was to entice a live studio audience into buying your new innovative product. I have to say we smashed it securing desks with Prezzybox, Ideal World and JML.
“We have continued to work with all of the companies and even are guest presenters on Ideal World with our very own show where we sell on average 1,000 units per hour.”
Jo, from Oldham, had to sell two of her three hair salons across Manchester in order to fund the Hairshark project – but she has no regrets and is now reaping the rewards selling thousands of brushes every month.
The brush, priced £19.99, is now stocked at Harvey Nichols, Housing Units and online at Missguided, as well as via their own website hairshark.co.uk, and flies out to customers across the world.
Jo says: “I don’t regret a single thing.
“I’m nearly 50 years old and I’m having the time of my life. My partner in crime Anders keeps me up to date with the latest trends and he makes me belly laugh all the time we are together.
“We are the perfect team. Not only are we friends but I have the experience and business knowledge and he has the creativity and, of course, his young outlook.”
And for Jo one of the best things about developing the brush is being able to give women more confidence.
She says: “The reaction to the brush so far is astounding. I don’t know why but when women have big hair they feel more confident – so much so I think we should be on prescription!
“When a woman feels that they’ve achieved something, especially if it’s a new beauty regime that’s making them look good it just really empowering. This works, no matter what age – as long as you have hair in your head.”
That includes on wigs, as Jo has discovered to her pride recently.
She says: “I have many clients who are suffering from hair loss. It may be due to chemo, medication, stress, hormones… you name it, it can affect your hair. I know first hand how upsetting this situation is.
“I’ve found the Hairshark to be utterly brilliant on wigs, hair pieces and extensions. Why? Because it makes it look like real hair. How? It separates the hair and creates definition as normal hair does.
“This little tool has transformed ladies’ perception of wearing a wig, especially at such a stressful time in their lives. This for me is nothing to do with the sale of a brush. This is seeing that lady in tears at the relief and then bouncing out of the salon with confidence with a few selfies taken to boot!”