In addition to her music, Hayley Williams of Paramore is known for her many-changing hair colors, especially her signature orange. In the decade-plus that Paramore has been a band, she has cycled through a number of looks, almost exclusively with her long-time stylist, Brian O’Connor. Eventually, Williams started dreaming of launching her own hair dye line, and she and O’Connor partnered to create goodDYEyoung, a “beautifully obnoxious” line of five vibrant colors.
GDY officially launched in April 2016, but the idea had been percolating for five years before, starting in 2011 when Williams came up with the company’s name.
The first couple of years after that, Williams said, “were a bust. Not many people seemed to get what I wanted to do and the lab samples were just awful.” In 2014 and 2015, during back-to-back touring to promote Paramore’s self-titled album, Williams eventually found someone to work with who specialized in developing start-ups, and she and O’Connor began the hunt for a new lab. It wasn’t until the summer of 2015 before they were able to narrow down the five core colors for their launch: Steal My Sunshine (yellow), Blue Ruin (blue), Rock Lobster (red), Ex-Girl (pink), and Riot! (orange). They also offer a fader, lightening kit, and tool kit to help DIY application and customization.
As someone who has been dyeing her hair since she was twelve—and who has grown up in a Grammy-winning band with four albums and a fifth due out this year—Williams might seem a natural for the role of hair dye entrepreneur. But even she admits that starting GDY was a daunting prospect.
“I have that thing where I constantly feel I’m not doing enough, or I’m not doing well enough,” she said. “In the years that no one seemed to understand my dream for GDY, I felt like it just wasn’t a good enough or unique enough idea . . . [but ] I had to believe that if we are all born individuals, then I had something to bring to the table and hopefully it would resonate with other people who want to learn to embrace their individualistic strengths, too.”
The importance of self-expression is at the center of GDY’s mission. Search #beautifullyobnoxious on Instagram and you will see an explosion of color, custom fades and combinations, and artistic inspiration from street art, colored vinyl, and fashion. Most recently, Josh Dun of Twenty One Pilots showcased Steal My Sunshine as he accepted his Grammy for Best Pop Duo/Group performance.
Dun isn’t the only musician to sport GDY’s hair colors. Carah Faye of Shiny Toy Guns and Williams’ husband—Chad Gilbert of New Found Glory—have also dyed their hair using the brand. But when asked to name another celebrity she would love to work with, Williams chose from outside that world, with skateboarder Lizzie Armanto. “I actually think a campaign with a few really badass female skateboarders would be so good.”
In addition to promoting creativity, Williams said, “GDY is passionate about creating community. We cannot exist without a healthy, expressive group of individuals who want to collaborate to make the world better.” Part of that ethos is GDY’s commitment to supporting non-profits like RAINN, The Trevor Project, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, among others, with portions of its holiday sales going toward those organizations. For GDY, that decision was “a simple choice,” according to Williams.
Another simple choice was GDY’s development of cruelty-free beauty products. “Why in the world are we still testing on animals in this day and age?” Williams asked. All colors in the hair dye line are vegan, as well, although the lightening kit is not. “A quick encouragement to all our friends out there to read your labels!” Williams said.
Williams’ music career has given her unique insight into the process of developing a business. “The most valuable thing I’ve learned from Paramore is that things that matter take time—and a lot of work—to grow,” she said. “The foundation we’re building right now is everything.”
As for the next steps, Williams and O’Connor are busy developing another line of semi-permanent dyes and a new product line. After finding that purple was one of the most-mixed colors from their first launch, it’s the first color they’re looking forward to unveiling next. “Should I just tell you what we’ve named it?” Williams asked. “What the hell! It’s called PPL Eater (people eater).”
Both Williams and O’Connor see hair as an outlet for creativity and self-expression, in the same way that music and other art forms can be. “Life is so wild and the only thing consistent about it is change,” Williams said. “My hair has always been a great way for me to deal with change, sometimes as a catalyst and other times as a reaction. Either way, it marks seasons of my life in a way that’s only rivaled by lyrics that I’ve written.”