10 Things Hair Care Entrepreneur Jason Lee Can’t Live Without
When he’s not tending to his high-profile clients at his namesake Toronto salon or appearing on Cityline as a beauty expert, Jason Lee is plotting world domination with his hair care line, Mela & Kera. While the idea to start his own brand came from his “very practical accountant father” who advised him it was a lucrative business decision, Lee’s experience working with the likes of Marc Anthony and John Frieda over the course of his career inspired him to imagine what his venture could look like. He spent 15 years dreaming up the next generation of high-performance hair products and launched his seven-product collection—named after melanin, pigment found in the hair, and keratin, a protective protein naturally in hair—last April.
Carried in Canada at Gee Beauty and Harry Rosen, and in the U.S. at high-end retailers Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, Mela & Kera has garnered accolades in publications like Forbes and beauty website Byrdie—which gave the line its 2022’s “best volumizing conditioner” award. This year, Lee plans to expand his products into more retailers as well as launch two new collections and additional products to existing lines. Here are 10 things the hair expert relies on for inspiration, energy and getting the job done.
Vega Protein Energy Drinks
Lee mixes this plant-based powder with water and drinks it 20 minutes before his workouts, which he tends to do when he finishes at the salon for the day. “I’m exhausted and it gives me that extra bit of pep in my step,” he says. He says he also chugs it before his appearances on CityLine.
Boy de Chanel makeup
Lately, Lee has been revisiting makeup—something he wore years ago when he was a contestant on the early 2000s Canadian reality show Superstar Hair Challenge—by filling in his brows and smudging eyeliner under his eyes. “It just gives me extra confidence,” he says. “It makes me feel like I can take on anything.”
Finally Enough Love: 50 Number Ones by Madonna
From the moment he saw her “Borderline” video as a child, Lee has been a Madonna super fan, and now he has her latest compilation, which features her 50 number-one hits, playing on repeat. “From a business perspective, she’s had a career that’s lasted decades, and has continually made money and sold products,” he says. “She’s intelligent, business-minded, artistic, creative and speaks up for herself. And she fights for the underdog—I really relate to that.”
When Tom Ford was Gucci’s top designer from 1994 to 2004, Lee was obsessed with the Italian fashion house—yet owning any Gucci clothing was simply out of his budget. Luckily, he had the funds by the time Alessandro Michele took over in 2015; Lee was taken with the designer’s theatrical direction and acquired several pieces, from simple hoodies to a silky orange blouse with a bow. “I really connect with Gucci because they make loud, confident and strong pieces,” Lee says. “That’s what I feel most comfortable in.”
Café Bustelo Coffee
Every morning begins with the Cuban coffee that reminds Lee of the winters he used to spend in Miami, where this brand was ubiquitous. “This is a whole different experience than coffee,” he says. “It just tastes different. It has a better feel in your mouth.”
Asics Gel Kayano 28 Platinum
When you get a lot of your ideas while you’re walking—and when you average 30,000 steps a day—you need the right shoes. Lee has three pairs of these Asics sneakers in rotation and wears them all day in the salon, out to business meetings and straight to the gym. “I can’t live without them given how much I work and how much I’m moving.”
New York City
Lee has visited Manhattan every month for the last 20 years—and even lived there from 2003 to 2005—because it continues to be a source of inspiration for him. It’s not just the architecture and the art galleries he loves; Lee also does research by visiting retailers and observing what the young kids are wearing on the streets. “I find that they are generally ahead of the game in terms of what’s cool.”
“He’s transformed my body,” Lee says of William Celis, the Toronto-based trainer he meets with five days a week. And beyond the physical benefits, the regular sessions have made Lee accountable to do something repeatedly. “I’m relating that to my business because that’s actually how you build success,” he says. “Every day, just go at it and something will emerge from that determination.”
StriVectin SD Advanced Plus Intensive Moisturizing Concentrate
Lee’s really into self care, which explains his extensive beauty product collection. But this StriVectin moisturizer is the one he swears by. “It’s hydrating, but not heavy and doesn’t make me break out,” he says. “I’ve tried a lot of different things but I always go back to it.”
From Byredo to Le Labo, at the salon or at home, in summer or winter, candles are a constant in Lee’s surroundings. “A candle, especially when you’re working, sets the mood and elevates the room,” he says. He even takes one with him whenever he has a business presentation. “At least one candle’s always lit in the room.”