#FemaleFounder: Nancy Twine, Briogeo Hair Care

06.01.2015

The foundation of Nancy Twine’s natural hair care line Briogeo can be traced back to her grandmother’s rural farm in West Virginia. Her grandmother kept a journal of soap, lotion and hair care recipes created from the natural ingredients she harvested herself. Cut to many years later, Nancy Twine decides to leave her high-powered position at Goldman Sachs to create Briogeo. Learn how working in the corporate world contributed to Nancy’s approach to entrepreneurship and why her personal connection to natural (and authentic) beauty coupled with her grandmother’s formulas, has positioned her as a leader in natural hair care.

Inspiration and advice to entrepreneurs and women

It takes courage to make a career change and start your own company. We’d love to learn more about your personal journey that inspired you to create Briogeo. And what does it take to be a successful entrepreneur, especially when first starting out?

Ever since I was a teenager, I’ve had an innate entrepreneurial spirit. In high school, I used to make jewelry out of beads, wire, and colored string and I’d sell my handcrafted pieces to friends and family. When I was in college, I began collecting unique jewelry pieces from various trips and travel and started my own online jewelry boutique. The desire to build and create has always been a part of who I am.  

After I graduated college, I took a job on Wall Street as a commodities salesperson. After several years in that career, I knew there was something else I was meant to be doing. I wanted to pursue my entrepreneurial craving, and this time, my grandmother’s craft of making natural products at home was the inspiration. I also felt that I had a better skillset for running a business based on my experience working at a large bank for several years. Being a successful entrepreneur requires some luck, but it also requires hard work, strategy, perseverance, and a good understanding of your market and how your products fit within that space.

What is your #1 mentoring tip for female entrepreneurs, young girls in school or women graduating from high school?

Don’t let the thrill of having a good idea propel you into starting your business too soon. There are a lot of skills and development that come from working in the corporate (or startup) world before venturing out on your own.  Be thoughtful about your approach and have a well thought out plan for execution before taking that big leap.

What's your superpower as a boss?

I often feel like the superwoman of wearing many hats! On any given day, my role ranges from marketing, sales, new product development, packaging design, mentor, accountant, spokesperson, inventory manager—you name it! We have a very small team at Briogeo, so everyone is used to taking on different roles throughout the day.

Creativity and Innovation / Brand Philosophy / Product Development

Your grandmother raised 8 children on a farm in West Virginia and created soaps to lotion to hair care, out of a budget-savvy necessity. Tell us how your grandmother’s special recipe book enriched your life experience, and how experimenting with hand-making natural products at home with your mother contributed to your business. 

I think passion is the #1 ingredient for running a successful startup. I have a very personal tie to my products which fuels my passion for Briogeo. I couldn’t imagine running a business that didn’t have true meaning and purpose to me. My grandmother’s basic recipes became part of the foundation for Briogeo’s line of naturally advanced hair care products. Each Briogeo product contains a handful of ingredients my grandmother used to formulate her own products in her kitchen— things like aloe juice, sweet almond oil, shea butter, rosehip oil, and various citrus oils.

We adore your salon quality, natural line and connect with your tagline, “Treat your hair the way nature intended—Be Gentle, Be Kind™.” Tell us why you created a sulfate-free shampoo

Sulfates are harsh detergents that are found within a wide range of industrial applications, like cleaning sprays and car washing fluid. They strip the hair of natural oils and can also cause skin lipid damage if they come in contact with the eyes (which sometimes happens when you’re shampooing your hair). The advancement of natural chemistry has brought to light several more gentle, coconut-derived cleansers that effectively remove dirt and buildup to the hair in a way that doesn’t pose health concerns.

What does the word Briogeo mean? And how does the name of your company connect to the fact that you use 90-100% natural ingredients in your hairline (which includes green tea, avocado and coconut oil derived ingredients)?

Briogeo is made up of two words: BRIO and GEO. The word “Brio” is of Italian derivation and means vibrant, colorful, and full of life. Those words describe the bright colorful patterns on each package which ultimately represent the unique hair texture of our customer. The word “Geo” means of Earth or Nature. It speaks to what’s on the inside of the bottle—natural and non-toxic ingredients that bring out beauty in every hair texture type.

We love that one of your 3 Important Beliefs  is, “Natural formulas should not equal neutral performance.” What do you say to people who think they need chemicals in their haircare to wash away build-up and achieve a total clean?

Natural chemistry has come so far over the past few years that there’s no excuse for not converting to a safer and more natural beauty routine. Natural products can perform just as well as their synthetic counterparts if you do your research and choose natural brands that use high quality ingredients and have a mission for creating performance based products. High performing natural products often cost a bit more than seemingly similar products—but like most things, you do get what you pay for.

We get an uplifting, vibrant feeling from your packaging. Tell us how your colorful packaging ties into your overall mission “to use earth’s natural ingredients,” and your vision to create hair-care for all women? We’d love to know why celebrating all women and uniqueness is important to you. BTW: We feel the same way. 🙂 

To us, “earth colors” don’t just mean neutral tones like brown and green—the earth in which we live is very vibrant and represents a full spectrum of color. Similar to our diverse client base which encompass curl, volume, and repair needs—we chose to use a myriad of colors and patterns that represent the uniqueness of each of our customers. We recognize that all hair types are not created equal—different textures require different ingredient and formulas—which ultimately makes our hair care needs truly unique.

Inspiration

Your instagram has a vibrant, beautiful feel. We loved this quote we saw on your instagram: “Be you. Be beautiful. From the inside out.”  We’re interested to know if this is your personal mantra, or if you return to again and again to another quote for lady inspiration?

We actually learned of that quote through one of our beauty product founder friends, Indie Lee. I think it’s a very powerful mantra that really exemplifies our take on what beauty really means. No matter how great your hair or makeup looks, it’s your personality and attitude that truly reflect a person’s beauty. 

 

If you could have a dinner party with 3 female artists, icons, politicians, authors, wellness aficionados, spiritual leaders, or any person alive today or not, who would they be and why?

I am sure there are so many more than just three, but here are the first that come to mind:

Hillary Clinton: She’s a strong, powerful, and unwavering woman who has done so much to advance the status of women in the U.S. and abroad.

Oprah: From philanthropy, to wellness, to inspiring women around the world—Oprah is so much to so many people and one of the best lessons I’ve learned from watching her shows and reading her books is that you don’t need everything to have everything you need.

Mother Theresa: She spent her entire life devoted towards making the world a more peaceful place (how cool is that?!).  

How do you define beauty? What’s your “beauty philosophy?”  

Less is more and beauty really does filter from the inside out. Someone could be drop dead gorgeous on the outside, but if they have a negative attitude and hurtful tendencies, true beauty will never shine through.

What are the 5 life rituals you do daily to stay happy and healthy?

Get at least 7 hours of sleep

Workout 3x (or more!) per week

Incorporate fruit or veggies into every meal

Drink 6-8 glasses of water per day

Take off makeup before going to bed 🙂

Who’s on your playlist right now?

My list is SO eclectic! I’ve been listening to Spotify’s top 50 in the US for probably the last year now. Everyone from Katy Perry, to Drake, to Sam Smith, to Bruno Mars—I love popular music. 🙂

What blog, Instagram account or Tumblr inspires you the most?

I’ve really been loving @hannahbronfman ‘s IG account. She’s all about healthy eats, fitness, spirituality—all while looking ridiculously good! She’s a huge inspiration!

The Future

What’s next for BRIOGEO?

We’d love to expand our distribution overseas while also building our assortment to eventually include styling products. We recently launched our first two finishing sprays, Blossom & Bloom Ginseng + Biotin Volumizing Blow-Dry Spray andRosarco Milk Reparative Leave-In Conditioning Spray which have both been huge hits since launch!  We can’t wait to take a deeper dive into some new innovative treatment and styling products. Stay tuned!

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