The beauty industry has seen significant shifts that have taken the limitations off of the Black haircare experience.
In just the last decade alone, hair aisles dedicated to curly and kinky customers have expanded far beyond a singular section filled with heritage brands and products with harsh chemicals. Now, with the changing of guards from transitional haircare lines to new, diverse, and full-range options that cater to all textures and colors, breakthrough brands are taking their stake in the beauty industry like never before. And leading the pack is the Australian-born founder of BREAD Beauty, Maeva Heim.
Since its launch in 2020, Heim’s groundbreaking hair brand, BREAD, has taken the beauty industry by storm with a “carefree and easy” hair lifestyle at the core of its brand. With traditional messaging around textured hair being “anti-frizz” and seeking “tame” the way our hair naturally grows, BREAD aims to create products that redefine those existing stereotypes and remove the challenge from our haircare routine.
“Our main goal has always been to demystify and simplify textured haircare, eliminating extra time and products from our routines,” Heim tells xoNecole. “We also speak from a place of kindness and understanding when it comes to textured hair; ‘tame’ is not in our vocabulary, but frizz is — in the best way possible!”
Launching her brand in the midst of the pandemic was no small feat. Faced with supply chain challenges and an uncertain future, Heim shares that three years into her entrepreneurial journey, her success is due in part to her ability to embrace change and adapt quickly. “Even when things feel out of your control, most things are controllable,” she reflects. “And if you take charge of what you know, you can change yourself and your business, you can overcome anything."
Courtesy of BREAD
Today, BREAD celebrates its third anniversary in the beauty industry and is commemorating its dedication to fostering diversity and inclusivity within the beauty and wellness sectors with a new partnership with Fearless Fund, a venture capital fund focused on empowering women of color entrepreneurs.
Fearless Fund is reshaping the entrepreneurial landscape by creating opportunities for women of color and fostering a more inclusive business environment. By supporting BREAD, they aim to bring about positive change and empower individuals to embrace their natural beauty, and sustainable packaging has resonated globally with consumers.
“We’re so happy to be supported by Fearless Fund – and the fact that it’s a venture capital firm that specializes in early-stage, women-of-color-led businesses makes it hit home even more,” Heim says. “We’re utilizing the funding for research and development, especially in the textured and afro hair fields, and bringing even more products for overlooked hair types to the table.”
xoNecole: How has Black and Australian hair culture influenced your outlook on beauty and hair care?
Maeva Heim: For Black hair culture, I grew up in my mum’s African braiding salon in Perth – so I was surrounded by Black hair trends, imported products, and community. Being in such a concentrated environment of Black hair, then realizing how uncatered to it is in the hair industry as a whole was the catalyst to creating BREAD.
Australian hair culture has always favored the ‘Aussie beach babe’ aesthetic — that being blonde, surfy, effortless. Growing up here, I obviously never fit that mold, and so much of what you see expressed in BREAD’s branding is about creating a new ideal or new norm of what it means to have ‘effortless’ hair. We’re really on a mission to make it feel accessible to everyone — not just people with straight hair.
xoN: Your participation in the Sephora Accelerant Program and placement in Ulta are significant milestones. What impact have these opportunities had on BREAD’s growth?
MH: The Sephora Accelerate program was really the initial door that opened for BREAD. It allowed them to go full-steam ahead and really plant a stake in the ground in prestige hair with a brand that hero’s textured hair with premium ingredients that are more accessible.
Launching into Ulta online last year and in 250 stores this year (recently expanding into a total of 470 doors) is nothing short of huge, especially as Ulta has one of the most renowned haircare sections in the industry. We get to reach even more current and future 'breadheads' both in real life and online, and partnering up with Ulta means plenty of fun events and happenings down the line too.
Courtesy of BREAD
xoN: Elaine Welteroth played a pivotal role in the early days of BREAD Beauty, and her support led to several key opportunities for the brand. How did that initial meeting with Elaine in Australia shape your vision for BREAD and the importance of mentorship as a founder?
MH: Elaine really helped to pave the way for our very first Sephora meeting, which ultimately landed us a partnership. She invited me to the very first Teen Vogue conference as a guest, where I was able to connect with a senior Sephora merchant who set up the meeting for me.
I think that relationship with Elaine and the opening of that door really is a testament to how important it is to be in the room - but even more so, how important it is to be invited into the room by someone who is ahead of you. That’s how you equal the playing field, and as a founder a few steps ahead of others, I definitely feel a duty to open doors and invite people into the room so that doors can open for them too. Visibility is everything.
xoN: What advice would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who want to enter the hair industry or start their own beauty-related businesses?
MH: I think in the current climate, where oversaturation is really at its peak, I would definitely implore new founders to think really carefully about what differentiates their brand from everything else. That differentiation can come from lots of different things - whether it’s product formula and positioning, price point, distribution, etc. As long as it’s super clear, and there is a real need, then the sky's the limit, and there’s room for everyone to succeed.
Courtesy of BREAD
xoN: Looking ahead, what are your future aspirations for BREAD as you continue to evolve and grow in the hair industry?
MH: I just want to continue building this company into a powerhouse beauty brand that makes people feel good — about their hair, their bodies, and the skin they're in. That has always been the ultimate goal — giving people their time and energy back so they can spend less time worrying about ‘beauty’ and more time doing anything else their hearts desire.
Featured image courtesy of BREAD
Aley Arion is a writer and digital storyteller from the South, currently living in sunny Los Angeles. Her site, yagirlaley.com, serves as a digital diary to document personal essays, cultural commentary, and her insights into the Black Millennial experience. Follow her at @yagirlaley on all platforms!
This article is in partnership with Sensodyne.
Our teeth are connected to so many things - our nutrition, our confidence, and our overall mood. We often take for granted how important healthy teeth are, until issues like tooth sensitivity or gum recession come to remind us. Like most things related to our bodies, prevention is the best medicine. Here are five things you can do immediately to improve your oral hygiene, prevent tooth sensitivity, and avoid dental issues down the road.
1) Go Easy On the Rough Brushing: Brushing your teeth is and always will be priority number one in the oral hygiene department. No surprises there! However, there is such a thing as applying too much pressure when brushing…and that can lead to problems over time. Use a toothbrush with soft bristles and brush in smooth, circular motions. It may seem counterintuitive, but a gentle approach to brushing is the most effective way to clean those pearly whites without wearing away enamel and exposing sensitive areas of the teeth.
2) Use A Desensitizing Toothpaste: As everyone knows, mouth pain can be highly uncomfortable; but tooth sensitivity is a whole different beast. Hot weather favorites like ice cream and popsicles have the ability to trigger tooth sensitivity, which might make you want to stay away from icy foods altogether. But as always, prevention is the best medicine here. Switching to a toothpaste like Sensodyne’s Sensitivity & Gum toothpaste specifically designed for sensitive teeth will help build a protective layer over sensitive areas of the tooth. Over time, those sharp sensations that occur with extremely cold foods will subside, and you’ll be back to treating yourself to your icy faves like this one!
3) Floss, Rinse, Brush. (And In That Order!): Have you ever heard the saying, “It’s not what you do, but how you do it”? Well, the same thing applies to taking care of your teeth. Even if you are flossing and brushing religiously, you could be missing out on some of the benefits simply because you aren’t doing so in the right order. Flossing is best to do before brushing because it removes food particles and plaque from places your toothbrush can’t reach. After a proper flossing sesh, it is important to rinse out your mouth with water after. Finally, you can whip out your toothbrush and get to brushing. Though many of us commonly rinse with water after brushing to remove excess toothpaste, it may not be the best thing for our teeth. That’s because fluoride, the active ingredient in toothpaste that protects your enamel, works best when it gets to sit on the teeth and continue working its magic. Rinsing with water after brushing doesn’t let the toothpaste go to work like it really can. Changing up your order may take some getting used to, but over time, you’ll see the difference.
4) Stay Hydrated: Upping your water supply is a no-fail way to level up your health overall, and your teeth are no exception to this rule. Drinking water not only helps maintain a healthy pH balance in your mouth, but it also washes away residue and acids that can cause enamel erosion. It also helps you steer clear of dry mouth, which is a gateway to bad breath. And who needs that?
5) Show Your Gums Some Love: When it comes to improving your smile, you may be laser-focused on getting your teeth whiter, straighter, and overall healthier. Rightfully so, as these are all attributes of a megawatt smile; but you certainly don’t want to leave gum health out of the equation. If you neglect your gums, you’ll start to notice the effects of plaque buildup, which can irritate the gums and cause gingivitis, the earliest stage of gum disease. Seeing blood while brushing and flossing is a tell-tale sign that your gums are suffering. You may also experience gum recession — a condition where the gum tissue surrounding your teeth pulls back, exposing more of your tooth. Brushing at least twice a day with a gum-protecting toothpaste like Sensodyne Sensitivity and Gum, coupled with regular dentist visits, will keep your gums shining as bright as those pearly whites.
Russell and Nina Westbrook are one of those low-key, unproblematic couples we don’t talk about enough. They met in college and got married in 2015. They also have a beautiful family with three kids. While Russell is an NBA star, Nina is a licensed family and marriage therapist and a mental health advocate.
She recently launched the podcast The Relationship Chronicles with Nina Westbrook, and in the latest episode, she had none other than her husband on as a guest. The college sweethearts dived into important topics from marriage to children and how they navigate it all.
One of the topics they touched on was dealing with resentment in your relationship. The former MVP highlighted the sacrifices his wife has had to make in order for him to pursue a career in the NBA, and that’s why it’s also important for him to support his wife whenever he can.
“For me is respecting and understanding what your partner do and the time it takes,” Russell said. “Not kind of downplaying what they do, understanding the time and energy and effort they're doing to make sure whether it’s their job or making sure home is taken care of, and understanding that, I think that is the challenge of not being resentful.”
Nina agreed and also shared her thoughts on resentment. According to her, one of the best things couples should do is have their own identity and passions outside of the relationship in an effort to be fulfilled.
“I also think that when you’re in a relationship, that’s why it’s so important that each individual kinda pursue their own passions and follow their own dreams as I feel like it only becomes or leads to resentment when one person is not feeling fulfilled in what they're doing in their lives,” she explained.
“And so, they will start to look at the other partner who’s happy or excelling or promoting or moving along in their journey, then they’re left feeling stuck like they sacrificed themselves, their happiness, their career, their future and have not pursued it in the name of the relationship or their partner. So, it’s so much easier to avoid those feelings of resentment when you’re each equally pursuing your passions.”
The couple has many passions that they work on together and separately. Outside of basketball and his family, Russell has become known for his eclectic style and started the fashion brand Honor The Gift. Nina has her podcast, and she also started the mental health website Bene. Together, they run the Why Not? Foundation, which works with kids in underserved communities.
“I’m a firm believer that one person can’t be everything to you, so you have to sort of seek out those different friendships or groups or hobbies or activities that help to fulfill you,” Nina concluded.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Jon Kopaloff/Getty Images for Religion of Sports