If you’ve ever watched QVC or washed your hair in the last two decades, you’ve probably heard of WEN and the mastermind behind the brand, Chaz Dean.
The line, which I only recently learned stands for “new” spelled backwards, was, at its launch, the unheard-of co-washing, sulfate-free, must-try revolution—and the devotees were, and still are, committed.
Like a lot of mega-successful products, a litigation followed (a class-action suit against the parent company of Guthy-Renker claimed it caused hair loss and irritation) in the heels of the success. A settlement was reached, but the brand stands by the fact that the products are safe to use—they even conducted clinical trials to prove it—but did not wish to be wrapped up in costly and time-consuming litigation.
Through it all, Dean kept going, innovating new launches and buying a New York studio somewhere in-between.
The space, which just opened in December after some COVID-related delays and a very tricky city-approved renovation, is a four-story townhouse located on the ever-envious Greenwich Avenue in the West Village (think textured walls, black-and-gold accents and a terrace that makes you forget you’re not in nature for a second). There’s a beautiful park across the street, Bobbi Brown’s Jones Road is on the block and C.O. Bigelow is so close you can see it from the front door. Dean knows all this, but is, still somehow, the new kid on the block—and he’s O.K. with that.
Today, he’s doing a color-correction hair consult and then chatting with me about his latest passion project: A limited-edition Summer Piña Colada Cleansing Conditioner.
“Everyone loves piña colada,” Dean confidently says, as he’s surrounded by his dogs, a nonstop stream of curious people coming in off the streets to find out more about what the studio offers, and his devoted staff that works like a well-oiled machine.
“We all travel together, and we all eat dinner together when we’re in New York,” his assistant says, as she rattles off some of their favorite vegan places to go and shares their upcoming schedules for New York, Los Angeles and Exeter, PA (where QVC is located) that sounds beyond jam-packed.
“I love working with him. Every day is different. We have a lot of fun together.”
And then Dean starts to get to work: He sets up two cell phones for social media live-streaming purposes and gets down to the nitty-gritty of how to use the cleansing conditioner, and exactly what all the hydrating ingredients do and why he incorporated them into the formula. He’s given this story hundreds of thousands of times before, but that doesn’t mean it’s not sincere, as he’s heavily engaged in making sure I know exactly what is going on so I can use the products at home.
The most relaxing lie-flat head-massage follows—he even throws in some of his Bella Spirit Indigo Toning Cleansing Conditioner, which, as he promised, instantly brightens up my color—and tops it off with a perfect blowout that he tells me will last.
As I prep to leave the retreat and reenter the less-than-relaxing New York summer day, his team asks if I can come back in two weeks when they are back in town from LA, while insisting I must try the “fruit sushi” from a restaurant down the street.
“You’re always welcome here,” Dean says with a smile. “Seriously, just walk in.”