Black women are not a monolith. We all are deserving of healing and wholeness despite what we've been through, how much money we have in the bank, or what we look like. Most importantly, we are enough—even when we are not working, earning, or serving.
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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