Our new Beauty Bits interview features Nancy Twine, the founder of new natural hair care brand, Briogeo, who left a successful career in finance to start the new line of hair care products that are destined to challenge the way that consumers think about natural hair care.
What inspired you to start Briogeo?
Nancy Twine: Briogeo was inspired by a family tradition of making personal care and beauty products from scratch at home and my own desire to blur the lines between ethnic and non-ethnic hair care. My mother grew up in a family of ten in a small rural town in West Virginia. They didn’t have much money or resources and my grandmother was always looking for ways to cut corners to provide for the family. She was very crafty and resourceful and learned how to make several of the family’s personal care products from scratch using ingredients from her garden and farm. This tradition was later passed down to my generation and we made a lot of our own beauty products in the kitchen of our home — but at the time we were making our own products, natural personal care and beauty hadn’t caught on to the level it is at now — so we really didn’t have much of an outlet for our homemade products outside of close friends and family. I always knew I wanted to develop my own natural product line that I could share with a larger audience and that’s what really drove my passion for creating Briogeo.
I was never keen on the idea of separating hair care on an ethnic vs non-ethnic basis. I have friends who wouldn’t be considered ethnic, but have a similar hair texture to my own. I always believed that hair care should be defined by texture — as opposed to ethnicity — so when creating Briogeo, it was important for me to create products that would cater to a diverse array of hair texture types that everyone, no matter what ethnicity, can identify with. Based on the very diverse demographic of customers who have been using and loving their Briogeo products, I feel that we’ve been able to accomplish this goal.
How did you come up with the name Briogeo?
NT: The word Briogeo is derived from the word Brio which means “full of life”, “dynamic”, and “energetic” and the word Geo which represents “of earth or nature”. Briogeo is a very unique combination of words that really sums up what the brand is about. Briogeo is modern, fun, and energetic and we visualize that with our eclectic packaging designs and bright colors. But of equal importance are our product formulas and ensuring they uphold a high content of naturally-derived ingredients.
What is the key differentiator between your brand and other eco-friendly hair care brands?
NT: When I first started developing the line’s first four products, I knew that I didn’t want Briogeo to be just another natural hair care brand. I wanted Briogeo to be known for its high-performing formulas that could uphold the same results-based qualities that many non-natural, salon brands could.
I interviewed several salon owners and clients who had used natural hair care products in the past, and the biggest, consistent complaint was the frustration with product performance. Many natural conditioners they had tried didn’t leave the hair shiny or smooth and shampoos did very little to clean the hair sufficiently without using a significant amount of product. I, myself, was frustrated with the performance of many natural hair care brands on the market and I wanted to change those norms with the development of the Briogeo line.
It took over 2 years to finalize our first four products because we really needed to understand what natural ingredient combinations would allow our products to perform the way we wanted them to. We also held a focus group program with over 100 participants who tested our products, while they were still in development, and submitted feedback which allowed us to make really informed decisions about our formula modifications.
Product development was a lengthy process, but it really allowed us to create formulas that stand out for their performance. We also pioneered several unique natural ingredient blends that had yet to be seen in the natural hair care space.
My hair is naturally curly and I am very impressed with how well Curl Charisma hydrates and defines my curls. What has been the key to creating such effective products that are eco-friendly?
NT: I’m so glad to hear it! Creating products that really work for curly hair texture types requires understanding the dynamics of curl pattern and the natural ingredients that will provide optimal care.
There are three major factors that curly textures crave: 1. Intense hydration to keep the curls soft, bouncy and moisturized, 2. A frizz fighter to help keep curls tamed and flyaways in check, and 3. A smoothing effect that helps ensure consistent and unified curl formation.
We really studied natural ingredient profiles that would address these specific needs and in the process we incorporated a unique blend of rice amino acids, tomato fruit ferment, and mollis leaf extract — along with hydrating shea and almond oil — to develop our high performing Curl Charisma conditioning product.
The Briogeo packaging is really striking. It looks very different from what I have seen on most hair care brands and especially eco-friendly brands. Was that intentional?
NT: The packaging concept we created for Briogeo was very much intentional. I was very fortunate to work with an extremely talented design team, Flood Creative based out of Nyack, NY, and when I first approached them we talked about my frustrations with a lot of the packaging design seen in the natural beauty product aisles. Rows of natural beauty and personal care product seemed to blend together on the shelf with the overuse of muted earth tones, leafy patterns, and craft-colored boxes. The average natural beauty product shopper is smart and savvy and I didn’t feel like we needed to scream natural to them through the color palette or design concept we would ultimately use for Briogeo. Our customer is reading the front and back panels of products when they shop and I knew they’d understand what Briogeo stands for even if our packing design didn’t adhere to the natural design norms they were used to seeing. With Briogeo, my goal was to create packaging that appeals to the modern-day beauty consumer and that inspires individuality. Briogeo recently won the 2014 GD USA award for Package Design and I’m really excited to see how well our approach has resonated with both our clients and design industry.
What do you see as the next milestone for the brand?
NT: We certainly have a lot of exciting things in the works for Briogeo! Our next major milestone will be launching our first styling and finishing products while extending our breadth of product focus towards the textured/curly hair community. We’re on target to launch these new finishing products in the early fall of this year. I’m very excited about what’s in store as our line evolves to give our Briogeo client hair products she can use from start to finish.
If you were stranded on a desert island, what five beauty products would you want to have with you?
NT: My Briogeo hair regimen (Be Gentle Be Kind Shampoo and Blossom & Bloom Volumizing Conditioner), REN Gentle Exfoliating Cleanser, REN EverCalm Global Protection Day Cream, and Burt’s Bees Honey Lip Balm.
What is one piece of beauty advice or an insider’s secret that you can share with Ageist Beauty readers?
NT: As it relates to hair care specifically, product ingredients really do matter. We all do things from time to time (or often!) that can damage and weaken our hair — whether it be color processing, chemical straightening, or excessive use of heat tools. These things really take a toll on the hair over time, but can actually be counteracted by switching up your hair care regiment to avoid harsh ingredients like sulfates that can be overly stripping and cause intense hair dryness. Silicones can cause buildup on the hair that may require a harsher shampoo to remove. The buildup can also prevent your hair from optimally absorbing the nutrients and conditioning agents of healthy hair care products.
Taking the time to educate yourself about the ingredients you put on your hair and skin is worth it and luckily we are in a world where there are lots of amazing natural beauty product brands to create a really great regimen with.
Image credit: Briogeo