Nancy Twine, founder of Briogeo Hair Care, is an entrepreneur going places. She left a career in finance to launch a line of natural hair care products, based on the formulations her grandmother created in rural West Virginia. Nancy introduced the beauty industry to Briogeo as a Discover Beauty exhibitor at Cosmoprof North America 2013 and shortly thereafter launched the product line to the public in the Fall of 2013. Within 2 months of the product launch, Nancy secured the brand a Shecky’s “Best In Beauty” Award for Best Shampoo and landed meaningful retail placement in Fred Segal, UrbanOutfitters.com, and The Cosmetic Market beauty chain.
Here, Nancy tells Beauty in the Bag how she prepared to launch Briogeo and her plans for the future.
Tell us a bit about your background. What inspired you to make the leap from Wall Street to beauty?
After finishing my undergraduate degree at the University of Virginia, I started my career working in the Commodities Sales division at Goldman Sachs. I spent seven years working in finance and my experience definitely taught me a lot about running a successful business. I’d always been interested in the beauty world and natural beauty products, specifically. Growing up, we made a lot of our own beauty and personal care products from scratch in our kitchen—it was a family tradition that was passed down through generations before me. When we were making our own natural beauty products at home, it was considered a very underground thing to do because the market for natural products hadn’t caught on yet. People weren’t as ingredient savvy and formula conscious as they are now. I always knew that I wanted to turn our family tradition of homemade beauty products into something bigger and fortunately we are now in a time where beauty consumers are actively seeking out natural product alternatives. After saving up for several years and gaining some of my own business savvy while working in the finance world, I decided to put my dream and passion into full gear and set out to develop the Briogeo hair care product line.
Please describe “natural” hair care and how it differs from traditional products?
To Briogeo, natural means formulas containing a high majority of natural and/or naturally-derived ingredients. The natural lifestyle is also about staying away from harmful or controversial ingredients, such as parabens, sulfates, and phthalates—many of which have been linked to things like skin lipid damage, hormonal imbalances, and endocrine disruption. Many traditional personal care products contain these ingredients—often times because they are cheaper to produce and have become the norm in product formulation for so many years. At Briogeo, we recognize that product performance is key; however, we are very conscious about the types of ingredients that go into all of our products.
What’s the best way to enhance curls?
We spent a lot of time developing our curl-specific conditioner, Curl Charisma. In developing a product that effectively enhances curls, it’s important to understand the concerns that curly textures have in order to create products that target those specific needs. We understood that three major factors could get in the way of a good curl day: frizz, inconsistent curl formation, and dryness. We spent many months in the lab researching the best natural ingredients to target these issues and we developed a unique blend of rice amino acids, tomato fruit ferment, mollis leaf extract, and shea butter—which help deter frizz by sealing the hair cuticle, promote consistent curl formation, and enhance the moisture and softness of curls. Moisture balance is key in keeping curls looking healthy and lively. We suggest that those with curly hair types use a regular deep conditioning mask for enhanced moisture retention. Outside of using a good curl-specific conditioner and regular deep conditioning treatment, we also recommend using a diffusing blow dryer attachment to dry curls as the diffuser helps curls form more uniformly.
What do you think about Keratin, Brazilian, or Japanese hair straightening systems?
These systems can definitely cause damage to the hair and those who use them should ensure that a trained and experienced individual performs the procedure. Those with already processed or color-treated hair should be extra cautious. If you are currently using these types of straightening systems, the good news is that many of the damaging effects can be lessened significantly by using the right regimen hair care products. Finding a good sulfate-free shampoo is crucial in ensuring your hair is not further stripped by harsh detergents and a deep conditioning mask will help restore moisture and combat the drying effects of these systems.
Does Briogeo have a “hero” product? Why do think it is successful?
Our hero product is the Don’t Despair, Repair! Deep Conditioning Mask because it is really a transformative product that everyone, no matter what hair condition, can benefit from. The mask is geared towards those with dry, damaged, chemically or color treated hair because it restores a balanced moisture and protein level that helps decrease breakage and enhances the natural luster and healthiness of the hair. People who may not necessarily have damaged hair also benefit from the product because it acts as a preventative treatment that helps preserve the look and shine of already healthy hair. During a product focus group we initiated on this product before it was launched, we received such overwhelmingly positive feedback on the treatment that we took it to an independent lab for testing. A variable vs. control study on the product showed 81% less breakage after 3 uses, which is very significant for a product with a 95% naturally-derived ingredient base.
What‘s on the horizon? What would you like to be doing in five years?
In five years, I’d love to take Briogeo internationally and grow the presence of the brand beyond just the US. Given that we are so new, it makes sense right now to focus on building a presence here in the states before making the leap overseas. In the more near term, Briogeo is gearing up to launch our first series of styling and finishing products which will extend our line beyond just cleansing and conditioning—it will offer our customer the ability to complete her hair care regimen from start to finish. Currently, our full collection of hair care products can be found at www.briogeohair.com.