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How Nancy Twine Built Briogeo

Nancy Twine talks building Briogeo and navigating COVID-19.

Nancy Twine launched Briogeo in 2013, when clean ingredients, the importance of hair health and the prestige hair category weren’t really things anybody in beauty was talking about.

“It was around the birth of the sampling box industry, the boom of beauty YouTube influencers and beauty brands were just beginning to create Instagram accounts,” Twine said during a presentation at the WWD Beauty CEO Summit. 

Twine was working in finance before she started the brand, selling commodities for Goldman Sachs, she said. But when her mother passed away in 2010, she rethought her career path, and decided she wanted to do something she was passionate about. 

When Twine was young, she and her mother would make their own beauty products in the kitchen, she said. 

“My mom was a physician and a chemist so she understood the nuances and the subtleties of emulsifying oil and water and doing so in the right order and at the right temperature,” Twine said. “At an early age, I learned firsthand that it was possible to create powerful products using clean, natural ingredients, coupling science with fearless imagination.” 

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Twine’s own experiences with hair care shopping weren’t so good — she noticed that the few products meant for her hair texture were usually sold in a poorly lit section, while others had a broad array of well-displayed choices, she noted. 

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She put the pieces together with her belief that hair care was ready for a transformation, and Briogeo was born. “The category was missing clean, naturally powered, efficacious formulas,” she said. “The category had been far too siloed and far too segregated for too long.” 

Her mission, with Briogeo, is to empower her customers on their individual paths to hair health, she said. “Fostering client empowerment is the driving force behind the Briogeo brand,” Twine said. Products feature avocado oil, kale, matcha and other natural ingredients. She started the company with her nest egg from working in finance, quickly achieved profitability and used bank debt through 2019, when she signed on VMG as an investor.

Now, she said, Briogeo is one of the fastest growing prestige hair care brands. 

During the past couple of years, during the COVID-19 pandemic, Twine said the business was impacted by shifts in consumer behavior, and the rise of the social justice movement, which opened an opportunity for her, as a Black beauty founder, to tell her story in a way that she hadn’t before. She showed herself packing boxes in the early days of her company, and publicly talked about the loss of her mother. 

“I knew that as a Black founder and entrepreneur I owed it to the community of so many other Black aspiring entrepreneurs to amplify my story in its rawest form,” Twine said. So she shared those stories with press and on the How I Built This podcast.

At the same time, she shifted around the business to make sure to capture the changing beauty consumer. Her priority moved to online, where Briogeo focused on customer services and consultations. Content production changed, too, and what had previously been produced in a studio was now being made by brand ambassadors, Twine said — that content also performed better. 

“Clients gravitated toward products that made them feel good and contributed to their overall health,” Twine said. “We saw clients investing in the scalp and hair treatment regimens at unprecedented rates.”

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