Passion Perfect: ONEx50 Founders, Kyle W. Gilbert-Hansen and Raphael Heller-Williams
In 2014, ONEX50 founders, Kyle W. Gilbert-Hansen and Raphael Heller-Williams talked about how they could give back to the community, which they loved for decades. Then, after years of perfecting their own formula, they launched ONEX50 on October 15, 2016. Their flagship product was hairspray. They say, “the strength of our background is that we’re all cheerleaders at heart. But, we are also previous a previous bank president and dealer business manager at highly ranked firms. We are trained first as performers, and second, as problem solvers. We take great pride in the impression we leave with others: our dress and smell, and how our hair looks every day.”
After watching cheerleaders prep to compete at thousands of competitions across the globe, and hearing their dissatisfaction with current hairsprays, they concluded that they could do better by making a better product.
Editor-at-large, D’angelo Thompson, spent time with Kyle and Raphel to find out their personal journey and the realization of their dream, ONEX50.
DT: Raphael, I want to thank you and yourOneX50 partner, Kyle, for this interview. Tell us a little bit about your business backgrounds, and what inspired you to launch OneX50? Which is a great hairspray by the way.
Kyle/Raphael: Thank you! That means a lot to us. It took us nearly three years to craft our formula, and it humbles us to hear how well people respond to something that we created and was a labor of love. Also, as you are a well-respected member of the beauty society, hearing you sing our praises means a lot.
The beauty behind the story of how we met is very special to us. We had all been dedicated to the Cheer and Dance industry for a long time, collectively nearly 100 years of commitment, and it was our shared passion for the sport that brought us together. We had been like ships passing in the night judging, coaching and doing choreography on our own parallel lines. We eventually met each other individually at cheerleading events but it wasn’t until we collided on a judge’s riser that our destiny began to unfold.
We quickly learned that we shared the inherent belief that cheer and dance truly shaped who we have become as successful adults. We believe that within each cheerleader and dancer lies a confident and strong person who can shine as an individual but also thrive in a team environment. We are natural leaders and performers; we are team members who believe that above all else every team member’s contributions matter. How this translates into professional environments, community involvement and family dynamic are exceptionally special.
Raphael: My business partner, Kyle Gilbert-Hansen, had the initial idea to create a line of products dedicated specifically to our athletes, through continued discussions we expressed our desire to find new and innovative ways to elevate the sport of cheerleading. One Fifty was then born and it was the perfect vehicle to share our message, to establish a company whose driving force was to give back to the cheerleading community, elevating the sports of cheerleading and dance by celebrating the athleticism required to be involved. Ultimately, we want to positively impact our future leaders and empower them with belief in themselves.
DT: How has OneX50 impacted the competitive world of cheerleading?
Kyle/Raphael: That’s a great question! First let me say, as we were considering our company mission and who we wanted to be in the world of cheer and dance, and the world at large, we knew that there were three things that we wanted our company to focus: Community, Camaraderie, and Compassion.
COMMUNITY. As former coaches being entrenched in our communities and the saying “it takes a village” is something that we believe in wholeheartedly. We celebrate this involvement and consider this connection an important component to an individual’s growth. Being a Give Back Company, we think it is important that athletes also give back to their community.
CAMARADERIE. By definition is mutual trust and friendship among people who spend a lot of time together. When we think about what that means to the athlete, we see this as a unifying adjective that brings athletes of different efficiencies, different backgrounds, and different beliefs together and creates ONE remarkable family.
COMPASSION. We live in a time where we deal with a lot of judgment, good and bad, it’s all around us. We want empathy to permeate our message and our ONEx50 extended family. Our belief is that a compassionate athlete is one that will be a great leader, one that will elevate their community and go on to make a positive impact on those around them.
We see these traits as being important for the success of our company but more importantly the success and growth of our future leaders.
So, the long-winded answer to your question, we hope that the impact that we have made is that we have helped to build a stronger sense of friendship, community and giving back.
We have always wanted to be the driving force in our young athlete’s efforts to be more and to do more. Not just as cheerleaders but as human beings who care. We hope that that message has begun to resonate within the industry.
DT: Traveling is an integral part of your business model. Is the message different in each market or similar?
Kyle/Raphael: One the great things about the ONEx50 (pronounced, “One Fifty,” the “x” is silent) hairspray is that it is for all hair types. So, EVERYONE and I mean everyone can use our product. Hairspray should never be the barrier to inclusion for anyone/ any athlete. Sally’s mom should not have to say, “Sally that is not something for your hair”, making Sally feel self-conscious about herself and feeling different than her best friend.
It was important for us to develop a product that everyone could have access to. One that would have the same message of elevating the sport of cheerleading, a message of inclusion and a message that everyone can do the same things. ONEx50 was created to give us a platform to shout to the young athletes, “You are worthy, you are great, and you matter.”
So, our message is the same wherever we go. We want everyone to use our incredibly crafted hairspray, and we want everyone that uses it to know that they are special and important to us.
DT: What inspires you? What inspires your partners/team?
Kyle/Raphael: What inspires me is such a big question! My first inspiration was (is) my mother. She was a single mom who raised four children; all while going to work, going to school and ultimately getting her Ph.D. She inspired me in so many ways, but the main things that her example showed me (us) were love, strength, and tenacity.
She loved us so much that she wanted to make sure that she was her best self; one to give us a powerful example of what it is like to be a strong determined woman (person). Two, she loved us so much that she did all she could do to make sure that her bettering herself would hopefully give us a better life.
Her strength was/is unparalleled. To me, she was Super Woman and could make magic happen. From creating a meal out of whatever (and however limited) we had in the refrigerator or our cabinets, to holding us up and motivating me and my siblings to do more and be more.
Her determination, her perseverance and her strength of will was a gift that she gave to me. I’ve taken her tenacious look on life and applied it to my life and all the things that I aspired to do and be. I thank her every day for that ‘Black Girl Magic’ that she gave me.
What inspires my business partner and I are the athletes, young and old, that we meet. These skilled and determined group of go-getters are the reason we started the company. We knew that we wanted to elevate the sport of cheerleading and deliver a message of Strength, Endurance and Image.
Hoping to help them realize that strength comes from within. That they are strong beyond their belief. That the sport that they know, and love will help to build them in ways that they have yet to realize. That it will give them a strength that they will pull from as they grow and get older.
We named the company One Fifty for a reason. There are two minutes and thirty seconds in your typical competitive routine, and if you break that down into seconds it is 150 seconds. We tell the athletes to make every second count, not just on the competition floor but in life as well. Enduring and pushing through to your ultimate goals, we feel, are keys to a successful outcome. Whatever that may be.
Our hope is that these young athletes will be the leaders in their communities and will be an inspiration to someone that needs to be inspired. Image is a stronger factor for that. Not in the physical sense but as it relates to perception. Doing the next right thing is important and being a kind and good person is important because people will see that and form their opinion of you. Which we hope is an inspired opinion.
DT: Will more product categories be offered soon?
Kyle/Raphael: Yes! Of course! We created an incredible hairspray, one that is made for all hair types, gives a great hold without leaving your hair feeling hard and crunchy or those nasty white flakes, it is a hairspray that you can easily brush out and that leaves your hair feeling conditioned after.
SO, all that to say again, yes. There will be more beautifully and thoughtfully crafted a product that will be introduced this summer, more specifically the end of June. We will be hosting the first over ONEx50 SlayFest, which will be an open casting call for our commercials and print work. It is also a place where our Brand Athletes, those athletes that are the face of ONEx50, will come together and inspire one another and get inspired by the events and “classes” that we will have for them.
There, we will have our hair product line, our branded apparel, and our ONEx50 branded accessories. This will be an exciting weekend and it will set the tone for all the magic, all the wonderful things that we have in store for the next season.
DT: What motivated the hashtag, #slaythespray?
Kyle/Raphael: It’s great, isn’t it? We wanted something catchy. Something that would resonate with people when they think about generating incredible hold and the perfect hairstyle. One thing that Kyle and I do well is Slay it and ONEx50 does that in spades too. So #slaythespray makes perfect sense. We believe our hairspray is unparalleled and it slays!
DT: Looking back, what would you tell yourself at age 10?
Kyle/Raphael: Be fearless. Love authentically. You are strong beyond your wildest dreams and you will meet the man that will complete you. So always believe in yourself, do the next right thing and always stay in gratitude…
OH, and always look on the bright side, it takes less energy.
DT: Personally, I have always seen you as a positive and proactive person. How does this attitude translate into your business model?
Kyle/Raphael: WOW, thank you! I’m honored that you feel that way about me. I feel that same way about you. So, jinx, you owe me a coke! LOL!
The ONEx50 brand is about positivity and sharing that light with all the people that we encounter. It’s about being a force of goodwill to all, especially those that might need a spark of hope. We are about sharing our message of Community, Camaraderie, and Compassion to everyone that we meet. We are about empowering young athletes, and our amazing product has allowed us to be that positive beacon.
DT: Finish this sentence, “today, I am grateful for…..”
Kyle/Raphael: My internal peace. My family. My Friends. The gift of love and patience. The strength of perseverance. The love that I share with someone special; my Peach, and the gratitude that I have daily. Last but not least, ONEx50.
I wake up every day and write a gratitude list. This helps me to stay rightsized and centered. I try to take this (my gratitude) and my serenity with me, throughout my day, and (passively) share it with other people in hopes that it is infectious and that I can be a positive light.
DT: Thank you for taking the time to chat with us!
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