When Maeva Heim found herself standing in the "multicultural haircare" aisle of a US drugstore, she felt like she just took a time machine back to 1995.
All of the products were confusing, overwhelming, and adhered to outdated standards of what is considered beautiful, healthy hair, she remembers. While Heim was on a trip and simply needed products for her 4C hair — after her relaxer leaked all over her luggage — the lack of options inspired her to create her own brand: Bread Beauty Supply.
"I like to say that Bread Beauty Supply is here for your hair essentials and must-haves, like a loaf of bread is a staple in your kitchen," she tells InStyle. “The other messaging we’re really passionate about is the idea of being anti anti-frizz. I noticed that a lot of language in the haircare space has negative connotations that tends to demonize natural hair and curly hair more so than other hair types."
With the concept of creating products that would simplify wash day and give anyone with textured hair the opportunity to have effortless, lazy girl hair, too, Bread was selected to be a part of Sephora's Accelerate program. The six month program offers mentorship for emerging female-founded brands.
Then in summer 2020, Bread launched its core collection of wash day essentials on its own website, as well as Sephora.
Here, we caught up with Heim to learn more about how her own hair experiences inspired her brand, Bread's best-selling product so far, and more.
How did your hair experiences inspire you to start your own brand?
I like to say that Bread pretty much started in my childhood back in the ‘90s. I grew up in Perth, Australia, which is a very isolated city. My mom had an African hair braiding salon there and it was basically a little shed connected to the back of an Italian restaurant. I would go in there on weekends and after school and I would help her braid hair, answer phones, or sweep the floors. It was definitely one of the first African hair braiding salons in Perth, if not Australia. We actually used to import a lot of textured hair care products from the US to sell in the salon because you really couldn't get access to as much back then.
I later went on to get a business and law degree and had every intention of becoming a lawyer. However, I got to the end of that degree and decided that I wanted to do something a little more creative. I ended up on the business side, working in marketing at L'Oréal. Based on my experience working behind the curtain for a lot of these big brands and as a consumer, I really didn’t feel like any of them were talking to me. And they weren't really talking to other women of color — especially Black women. I was getting a little bit fed up with that and felt that in order for there to be change in the industry, we needed for there to be more Black female founders who actually have ownership stake in both large and small beauty companies. So, I left knowing that I wanted to be part of that change, but I had no idea what the brand was going to be.
When did you get the idea for Bread Beauty Supply?
I was in the middle of nowhere during a trip to the US and my relaxer had spilled in my bag. I had been relaxing my hair since I was six or seven years old and never had to deal with my natural texture, so I didn’t even know how it was to wash it or anything. I had been transitioning a lot of my skincare products over to things that were more clean, so I realized I was putting this harmful, toxic relaxer on my head every three to six months for 20 plus years. So decided to stop and go back to my natural 4C curls.
Once we got access to the shops again, the first thing I decided to do was buy products that were actually designed to protect your hair, because I had been using general haircare products since my hair was technically straight from the relaxer. I went to the "multicultural haircare aisle,” and I was really shocked. It felt like I had gone in a time machine back to 1995. Everything was really dated, and I couldn't find any brands that I could really relate to as a millennial consumer. The products were really complicated and overwhelming, and no brands were guiding me through the process of figuring out how to wash my hair. I started looking at some of the market data and saw that relaxer sales had significantly declined at that time, so I knew other women must also be going through this process. So, I started building Bread. And as I started going through the motions of what this brand would look like, it was very evident to me that there was a new generation of consumer that was being very much overlooked.
What does "lazy girl hair" look like for people with textured hair?
A lot of the heritage brands in the space were still playing into the really dated idea of aspirational beauty and hair. It’s often very photoshopped and very glossy, and that's just not really relevant to this consumer. It's not what she aspires to anymore, and it's not really attainable for everyday use. I really wanted us to be a brand that could give this woman the option of having lazy girl hair, which is a conversation that Black women have never really been a part of. Textured hair has always been about long routines and lots of product, so that effortless undone styling is something no one has spoken to her about. Part of that is embracing frizz, because frizz completely normal. When you brush out really curly hair, it becomes poofy, big, and sometimes frizzy, but it doesn't mean it's unhealthy. We want to be able to embrace the hair as it is, and not feel bad about having flyaways and things like that.
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The Hair Oil is already a best-seller for you. Why do you think people are drawn to it?
I like to say that it’s a lip gloss, but for your hair. I wanted it to be an everyday, multipurpose product, so I think that’s why people really gravitate towards it. You can apply it to wet hair after you've washed and masked, you can apply it to dry hair in-between wash days, and you can also use it as a pre-wash treatment as well, which I like to do when I have a little bit more time because you need to leave it on for at least two hours or overnight. It’s a super lightweight oil and has a subtle fragrance and packaging that make it feel super premium. It’s also the most universal product that works on textures that aren’t necessarily curly.
How does it feel to launch in Sephora now that they have made the 15% Pledge to carry more Black-owned brands?
The timing worked out really funnily because I’ve been in conversation with Sephora for so long. They’ve always been supporters of our brand concept, and then the haircare merchant, who I initially first pitched to, is the one who put me forward for Sephora Accelerate. It feels surreal because I think we’re just the eighth or ninth Black-owned brand in Sephora, and I’m stuck here in Australia and can’t be part of that excitement on the ground. I think it’s great that Sephora is doing the work behind the scenes with the 15% Pledge and a few other things to increase the representation of Black-owned brands on the shelves. I've been in DMs with other Black founders in haircare who are technically competitors, but it’s a very supportive community and we’ve all been supporting each other, which is great.
Your Wash Day Essentials, Care Of Bread Beauty Supply
Inspired by the gentle cleansers you use to wash your face, this foaming hair and scalp cleanser gets rid of buildup without drying out your curls or creating tangles, which can drag out wash day. The sulfate-free formula has moisturizing argan oil, scalp-balancing aloe vera juice as well as lemon tea tree oil. While the light and milky wash isn't harsh, it's still powerful enough to fully cleanse thick 4C curls.
To buy: $20; sephora.com.
This deeply hydrating mask is the perfect follow-up treatment after cleansing your hair. Infused with nourishing ingredients including Australian kakadu plum, starflower oil, carrot seed oil, and sunflower seed oil, the creamy mask moisturizes curls without weighing them down. The formula can also be used to help repair hair that's damaged from chemical relaxers.
To buy: $28; sephora.com.
Hair Oil Everyday Gloss
This nourishing hair oil is the epitome of a multipurpose beauty product. Work it through clean, damp hair post-shower, apply it to dry hair in-between wash days for added hydration and shine, or use it as a pre-wash treatment two hours before cleansing your hair. The oil is infused with a blend of all-star moisturizing and scalp-soothing ingredients such as Australilan kakadu plum safflower oils.
To buy: $24; sephora.com.
Snac Pac Travel Size Wash Day Essentials
While regular travel isn't in the cards for the foreseeable future, these travel-sized pouches of Bread's Hair Wash and Hair Mask are a great way to try new hair products first before investing in the full size versions. Plus, the wash day essentials come with this cute scrunchie and clear purse for your products.
To buy: $24; sephora.com.
Wash Day Essentials Kit
Graduate to the full-size edition of Bread's wash day essentials. Along with the Hair Wash and Hair Mask, you'll get the Hair Oil for post-wash day touch ups and a scrunchie.
To buy: $58; sephora.com.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.
Beauty Boss profiles the brains behind the brands making waves in the beauty industry. From the ideas that first inspire brands to how best-selling hair, makeup, and skincare products are made, find out how these leaders get it done.
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