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“I wanted to create a haircare product line that was inclusive of all different ethnicities” – Briogeo’s Nancy Twine

In town for the brand's Middle Eastern debut
If you need to tame your mane here in the Middle East, Sephora's latest brand offering, Briogeo, will be your go-to brand moving forward. Here's why...

Haircare brand Briogeo recently made its regional debut in Sephora here in the Middle East. Offering everything you need to look after your locks, the brand has become a fast favourite of beauty lovers in the US and beyond. 

To celebrate its launch in the UAE, Briogeo’s Founder, Nancy Twine, jetted in from the United States to chat all things hair care with Buro 24/7 Middle East. From how she left her position as an investment banker and her journey to becoming a boss babe in the beauty industry, hear what Twine had to say about the exciting new launch…

Welcome to Dubai! What do you think of the city so far?

Thank you! It’s been great! I haven’t been able to do as much touristy stuff as I would like yet but I’m hoping that I can get out and explore but it’s great. I love the diversity here.

So tell us a little bit about Briogeo and why you decided to launch in the Middle East…

Briogeo is a clean and natural haircare product line. We’re six free which means all of our products are free from sulfate, silicones, parabens, phthalates, DEA and synthetic dyes. Some of the most common ingredients in haircare are linked to health and environmental concerns and we help to eliminate them with every single product. We think about haircare the same way you would skincare, so all of our products are infused with essential oils, vitamins and antioxidants to help create the foundation for healthy hair. We’re really haircare for all and diversity is really important to me. 

Speaking of diversity, your products really cater to a diverse clientele…

Yes and that’s so important to me because one of the reasons why I created the brand is that I wanted to create a hair care product line that was inclusive of all different ethnicities, all different hair texture types. Because I will say that haircare tends to be a category that’s often time segregated. A lot of people can’t identify with certain brands and certain hair texture types, and I really kind of wanted to break that mould and focus on diversity and inclusivity. We have product assortments for curl care, scalp care, volume, repair, frizz control — everything. 

A lot of people can’t identify with certain brands and certain hair texture types, and I really kind of wanted to break that mould and focus on diversity and inclusivity.

How did your partnership start with Sephora?

So Sephora has really become a dream come true for the brand. Sephora was our first retailer when we launched in the States in 2013 and they’re the best of the best when it comes to beauty retailers. The way that they partner with brands, it’s incredible. To be honest, I am still learning the culture of the UAE, there’s a lot that I don’t know but the idea of bringing Briogeo here without a partner was kind of daunting for me. And when I thought of who could be the best partner for me to help launch the brand, it was hands-down Sephora. I’m inspired by the diversity here. The fact that Dubai is really becoming a beauty hub, too. Some of the biggest beauty influencers are from here and they’re really impacting the beauty space so for me, it’s a real honour. I’m so excited to learn more! From what I understand too, hair is a real struggle here with the humidity. I’ve also heard that there are water issues, too. So I’m hoping that we can help a lot of women with those concerns. 

You briefly mentioned launching in 2013. How has the brand changed since you launched versus where Briogeo is at now?

So it’s a lot of different things! I mean, when we started we only had four products. We didn’t have a scalp collection, we didn’t have a frizz collection and so we’ve expanded our categories. But also I think that hair as a category has grown so much since I launched. When I launched, haircare was still kind of like that ugly stepchild that no one really kind of wanted to talk about. It was always the last priority, no one was really giving it love (laughs) and it was just always harder to get into retailers. It was a little discouraging. In the beginning, I was like “Oh, did I pick the wrong category?” or “Should have I gone into makeup or skin?” But, I’m so glad that I stuck with it because it’s incredible and I feel like there’s so much focus on haircare now. And haircare for a lot of retailers is one of the fastest growing categories. 

Your family played a key role too when you first started getting into hair care. Tell us a little bit about that relationship with them…

Exactly! So my grandmother raised eight children on a farm in West Virginia and she didn’t have a lot of money or resources and providing for eight children, that’s a lot. So one of the things that she would do is harvest her own different plants and fruits to have her own extracts and essential oils, and turn them into these very basic products for the family. Soaps, lotions, hair products. So when I was growing up, my mum and I used to make a lot of our own beauty products from scratch in the kitchen of our home. It was at a very young age that I learned that you could take ingredients from nature and actually transform them into highly effective beauty products. That’s what became the inspiration!

Reflecting on the launch, why did you make the transition from being an investment banker to entering a completely different industry?

So I was working at Goldman Sachs and I was in commodities, sales and trading for about seven years and it was a very different career switch. Unfortunately, in 2010, I lost my mum suddenly, and it made me really think about what I was doing with my life because you know, I was making a great salary and had a great position but I wasn’t happy. I wasn’t doing what I was passionate about. So I did a lot of soul-searching to kind of figure out what I was passionate about and I looked back at all of the natural products I used to make with my mum and how much I loved that. I was like “Wow if I can turn this into a business, this would be a dream come true.” I realised, for the first time, how short life and be and it’s so important that you have fun and live it to the fullest extent possible. 

It was at a very young age that I learned that you could take ingredients from nature and actually transform them into highly effective beauty products.

How important is it for you to work in an industry where women support other women?

It’s so important! I think it’s really important that we as women really support each other because sometimes, unfortunately, the other thing happens where there’s lots of competition and people try to sabotage people but it’s such a big world, a big economy and a big opportunity and there’s room for all of us. I think that when we’re able to support each other, we’re able to grow, and we’re able to do more. 

In the beauty industry now, you see a lot of brands incorporating this ‘clean beauty’ aesthetic. How important do you think it is to invest in such products?

I think it’s so important. I think that it’s becoming really savvy and I think it started with food and now it’s kind of expanding into beauty. Once you understand how certain ingredients can be harmful, you never go back and you avoid it. People know parabens are potential carcinogens and people know that sulfates can not only leach colour from the hair but can cause follicle elimination, so people are getting smarter and reading labels. I think there’s going to become a point that if you aren’t a clean brand, you’re not going to be able to survive in the industry.

What key products do you think will resonate really well with your Middle Eastern consumer? 

I think our collection for frizz control because obviously frizz is such a big concern here. Also, our scalp collection. It’s infused with charcoal and it’ll help to detoxify, especially because of the water issues. I think getting rid of all of that buildup on the scalp, it’ll obviously affect hair growth. And so keeping the hair detoxified and free of pollutants, I think is really important. 

Briogeo’s hair care products are now available at Sephora Middle East. 

Now, read more on our exclusive interview with Fenty Beauty’s Global Makeup Artist, Hector Espinal