Many beautiful journeys begin in hair salons. When Maeva Heim spent weekends working in her mother’s African braiding shop back in her native Australia, she didn’t know at the time that it was planting the seeds for her future career in beauty. Indeed the experience left an indelible mark on Maeva. Just a few years later, she went on to work as a brand manager for major beauty conglomerates like L’Oreal. She also now helms her own brand after launching the BREAD Beauty Supply hair care collection in one of the biggest retail beauty chains in the world.
Maeva created BREAD Beauty Supply out of necessity. After a harrowing experience with a hair relaxer, she decided to go natural. However, while learning how to care for her 4C hair texture, she quickly became disappointed with the product options she found in multicultural hair care aisles. “I just wanted to know how to wash my hair, and I felt like brands weren’t providing that guidance in a super simple, time-efficient way,” she says.
So, she set out to create a brand that simplified natural hair care, and in particular, the dreaded wash day routine. Armed with years of experience from working as a brand manager, Maeva parlayed her useful knowledge of brand development into creating BREAD. Then, after securing a highly coveted partnership with Sephora, she was able to introduce the brand to consumers.
The BREAD collection, now available at Sephora, is already causing a major buzz in the industry by changing the conversation around natural hair care. This innovative line features an assortment of products that caters to everything from 3a to 4c hair types and includes a hair oil that works like a “lipgloss, but for your hair,” among other product goodies.
We had the pleasure of connecting with Maeva for a chat about this incredible new line, her partnership with Sephora, and much more.
HH: Can you share a little about how your natural hair journey influenced the creation of your brand?
MAEVA: It was actually while I was on a trip to the United States. I flew from New York to Colorado with a hair relaxer in my suitcase, and when I arrived in Colorado, I opened up my suitcase and discovered the relaxer had exploded over ALL of my clothes. I was due for my topup, but was in the middle of nowhere, and didn’t have access to get another one. I decided then and there that I was going to stop relaxing my hair. At the time, I had been transitioning my skin and body care over to products that were more ‘clean’ and became somewhat more aware of the ingredients in beauty products I was using.
As I reflected on that, I realized that my scalp is skin too, and I was putting this very toxic product on my head every 3-6 months for over 20 years. So, I decided to stop. Straightening my hair with relaxer was something I had done since I was 6 or 7 years old. And whilst I had protective styling over the years growing up, my natural hair, when left out, was always straight. I had never, in my over 20 years of life, had to deal with my natural texture, or even understand what it was.
The first thing I wanted to do was find products that were specifically designed for my texture. Since I had grown up using products designed for straight hair, I knew those products were no longer going to cut it for my 4C, very textured hair. When I finally got access to stores and entered the ‘multicultural’ haircare aisle, I was quite shocked. I felt like I had jumped in a time machine and gone back to 1995 when we were importing products from the US over to Australia to sell in the salon. I couldn’t find any brands on the market catering to my hair type that I could relate to.
All of the brands I came across felt dated. They all seemed to speak in the same way, look the exact same, and the product selection was incredibly confusing. I was extremely overwhelmed and confused. I just wanted to know how to wash my hair and felt like brands weren’t providing that guidance in a super simple, time-efficient way. It was in that moment I realized the idea of what I wanted from a brand in this space simply didn’t exist, and that I should put the know-how, I developed working in brand management to create it.
HH: What was your main mission and goal when creating BREAD?
MAEVA: We’re creating BREAD for the woman who has curly and textured hair, and doesn’t want to spend half a day washing and styling her hair. Our aim is to make wash day and textured hair routines, as quick as possible, so she can spend less time on her hair and more time on other things in life. I also really wanted to create a brand that I felt reflected a new generation of consumers that were being overlooked in the category. She’s a centennial, and our mission has always been for the brand aesthetic and positioning to reflect her identity.
HH: What was the foundation of getting BREAD Beauty Supply started, and how did your partnership with Sephora play a role in it?
MAEVA: It was actually quite a long, gradual process. I left my corporate role in beauty, knowing I wanted to start a company that would bring more diversity to the industry but had no idea what exactly the company would be yet. That’s when I went on the trip to the US and discovered the gap in haircare. I then spent a few more years working full time whilst I worked on BREAD on the side. So, everything was very much in small stages, until the point of getting into the Sephora Accelerate program, which quite literally, accelerated the pace of the business, and was the point at which I decided to go full-time on the brand.
The partnership with Sephora has been incredibly impactful for us. It gave the brand legitimacy, even in its pre-launch stage, and really gave us a massive stepping-stone to secure pre-launch funding. Securing a launch deal with Sephora was something I wanted for the brand from the very beginning, so it has been surreal to see that come to life. I really wanted for the woman who was already going to Sephora to shop for skincare and makeup, to have BREAD as her option for hair, and I’m excited to see that come to fruition.
HH: Tell us about some of the products that you offer in the collection?
MAEVA: I wanted to keep our product assortment super simple, and take the approach of tackling each part of the haircare routine separately, starting with wash day. We’ve distilled wash day down to three simple products within our wash kit that are easy to understand, and have simple and safe ingredients that make her hair life easier. It’s her essential haircare wardrobe for curl care.
hair-wash ($20): I like to say this is like a co-wash meets shampoo. It has been inspired by gentle milky formulas in skincare to provide a nourishing hair and scalp cleanse that won’t strip. It’s almost like a light, marshmallow-like liquid, but it transforms into a gentle lather – and it smells like Froot-Loop milk!
hair-mask ($28): Is made in Australia, and is infused with Australian Kakadu Plum seed oil – which is a super hydrating but lightweight oil that is perfect for both hair and scalp health.
hair-oil ($24): This is a silicone-free multi-purpose oil that I like to say is like a lipgloss, but for your hair. It’s really your go-to oil for use throughout the day or week, and can also be used as a pre-wash treatment.
HH: What do you feel makes BREAD unique within the natural hair care landscape?
MAEVA: I want BREAD to feel more like a fashion and less like a typical beauty brand because I want her to feel like BREAD aligns with her identity in such a way she’s proud to have us on her bathroom shelf, and eventually in other places of her home and life. There really aren’t many brands speaking to this younger audience of women who don’t want to buy into the brands their mom did. They want something new and fresh – something that reflects their aesthetic and who they are. If you look at the way she presents herself online and what she identifies with, it’s a stark contrast with the super photoshopped and glossy brand vibe that you see most often in hair.
There’s also this rhetoric that textured hair is hard and time-consuming to look after, and requires lots of product and manipulation. But I want our audience to feel like hair is fun and easy and casual. Black women haven’t typically been included in conversations or messaging around ‘lazy-girl’ or ‘done un-done’ hair, and I want her to feel like she too can have a carefree hair lifestyle, and that hair care can be fun, easy, and casual – part of that is normalizing all kinds of curly textures and leading the way on what ‘aspirational’ hair is for 2020 and beyond.