Entrepreneur Series: Growing Up and Doing Business With... Donna Pohlad of dpHUE

Entrepreneur Series: Growing Up and Doing Business With... Donna Pohlad of dpHUE
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Hair is our crowning glory, and maintaining the mane is ever-so important especially when it comes to color. When 56-year-old Donna Pohlad couldn't find a place for a quick touch up, she opened a color bar and called it dpHUE. From consultations, to semi-permanent color, to color coaching that makes DIY a cinch (now that will keep heads turning!), it's full-service spot when it comes to keeping the hair looking shiny, vibrant, and glossy. Now overseeing two locations -- in Minneapolis and most recently, Los Angeles -- this CEO has her hands full but she spared some time to answer questions for the seventh installment of Growing Up and Doing Business With...

What kind of kid were you growing up?

I was the youngest of four, but wasn't the typical youngest child who was babied and had things done for them. I've always been really independent and liked school, sports and summer camp and liked to stay busy. It always felt like I was a bit more mature than my age and I knew that it was my responsibility to go after what I wanted, otherwise the three older siblings would beat me to it.

What did you want to be?

I sold dictionaries door to door for a while, and while I have respect for everyone making a living, I knew that wasn't a long-term place for me to be. I don't have memories of wanting to be an astronaut or a doctor or a specific profession like that. I was always fascinated by what made one thing successful and one thing not, but I don't think I realized what that meant at the time, or even what an entrepreneur was or what it meant to be a business person.

Who are the major influences in your life?

It was my own mother, for better or worse. She was wise beyond her time, drinking green juices before pressed juice was a trend and she became a member of Mensa at 82 years old. She suffered from polio but always persevered, even if it slowed her down physically, it never slowed down her mind or her life. All the best aspects -- drive, open-mindedness and patience -- come from her, but so do the worst. I find myself saying or doing something, finding that the old cliché is true: you can become your mother. Now, I would say that it is my kids. It is a different world to grow up in and they are all navigating their own way through it and teaching me so much along the way, though they probably fear that they are becoming THEIR mother.

Tell me about dpHUE and why you started the brand.

They say that necessity is the mother of invention, and that couldn't be more true for dpHUE. I wasn't thinking that I wanted to start a business, there was just this aspect of my own that was frustrating me and I was looking for a solution to fix it. I started digging in and doing research, looking for my own hair color solution, and almost a year later I realized that I had started a company.

What were the most challenging aspects of going into business?

Every day is a different challenge. The beauty business has had amazing new products brought to market, but breaking into the world of hair color, an industry that has seen little innovation over time, has been difficult. In hair color it has only ever been boxed hair color and salon services. Not only is dpHUE shaking up the industry, but we need to educate the consumer and encourage them to rethink their routine too.

Who is your mentor?

My husband is a tremendous sounding board for ideas that I have. He believes in dpHUE deeply, but can also play the devil's advocate and not just tell me 'yes' all the time. He challenges me to see things from different angles and has helped me to understand that success isn't a straight line.

What qualities do you most admire in people?

I really admire people who make things happen, they ask questions when they need to, but really they are go getters who do what needs to be done. To be able to do that with honesty, integrity and little humor too is remarkable!

What skill do you wish you possessed?

There are many, trust me. But I wish I was better at math. I'm left handed and right brained, it's gotten me to where I am now so I wouldn't want to sacrifice my way of thinking to be more analytical, but I really admire people who think differently than I do.

What has been your great best work achievement?

Without daily little triumphs, we wouldn't have persevered to achieve the big ones. Every time I see a woman have that lightbulb go off in her head and think to herself that dpHUE is going to make her life more convenient, it keeps us going. We once had a customer tell us, "You're like my iPad! I never knew that what I wanted was an iPad because it didn't exist, but now that I have it I can't live without it!"

How do you find balance in your life?

Sometimes I worry that I don't. I started dpHUE when I was already past 50 years old, so I didn't have all the typical work/life challenges of raising kids and working that people think of. But, I did have an established life and routine that I was shaken up completely. Some people say you can have it all and some say you can have it all, but not at the same time. I don't know quite which camp I fall into, but I look at my husband, kids and the dpHUE team and everyone is happy.

Where do you see yourself in 20 years?

I can't even imagine, but I promise you I won't have gray hair!

Comment on:

Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, or Instagram?

Instagram, I don't post myself but I like to follow others.

Book or Kindle/Tablet?


Favorite fictional character?

Howard Roark from The Fountainhead. I remember reading it as a teen and how impactful it was, I hadn't had that kind of experience with a book before.

Best decade? Why?

I've learned to live in the present, and it is pretty great. My family is growing through marriages and babies. I have a full life.

Kale Chips or Potato Crisps?

I eat the Kale Chips, but I want the Potato Crisps!

Snow or sea?

Born and raised in Minnesota, so I have to say snow, but only for a couple months of the year. Then sun for sure.

Coffee or tea?


Mac or PC?

Mac, it took me so long to learn out how to work my Mac that I can't switch now!

Where is home?


What advice would you give to your younger self?

Surround yourself with people who are enhancers, not detractors. When it comes to friends, relationships and employees, it all applies.


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