the beauty of it all

The CEO Who Went From Finance to Clean Beauty

Photo: Courtesy of Briogeo

Ten years ago, Nancy Twine was a 27-year-old vice-president at Goldman Sachs. She was making excellent money, but she was bored. Her older brother, meanwhile, was following his entrepreneurial dream of building a digital media agency.

“I said to him, ‘Chauncy, I need to get out of finance. Can I please work for you?’” Twine remembers. “‘You don’t have to pay me as much as Goldman does. I just want out.’

“I distinctively remember him saying, ‘This is my thing. You need to get your own thing.’”

The sibling rivalry worked. Inspired by memories of whipping up face masks and body scrubs with her mom (a family physician) from the shea butter, jojoba, and sweet almond oils they used to lug home from their local health-food store in Garden City, New York, Twine began to dream up what would become luxury hair-care line Briogeo. First, she had to see if turning those products into a real business was viable. With the finance skills she’d honed at UVA’s McIntire School of Commerce, she headed to the Small Business Library in midtown Manhattan and began digging through personal-care data.

“I learned that most of the natural brands focused on body, but very few on hair care, and hardly any of those existed in the prestige market,” she explains. “The ones that did had maybe one shampoo and one conditioner, but nothing that focused on problem solution. I grew up with unruly curly hair, and so much of the journey was figuring out how to tame it.”

After full days at Goldman, she spent nights and weekends finding chemists and starting to formulate. In 2013, she launched Briogeo with four products: one shampoo and three texture-specific conditioners. She took them to the personal-care-product trade show Cosmoprof, where she met a merchant from Sephora.

“I had no idea Sephora would even be there,” she remembers. “For the next six months, I kind of stalked them with emails and press. Then I got the email that changed my life.”

Sephora wanted to get competitive in hair and focus on diversity. They wanted Briogeo. She gave Goldman Sachs notice and never looked back.

Instead, she’s looking forward. Earlier this year, Briogeo has branched into wellness. B. Well includes a supplement, treatment oils, a CBD scalp oil and a deodorant.

“Obviously, our original focus was hair care, but products that are clean and good for you should be a complete 360 regimen. I don’t use Schmidt’s deodorant anymore; I use Briogeo’s. How cool is that??”

Twine spoke with the Cut about her dream celebrity customer, her American Idol moment, and silicone-free oils.

What’s your definition of beauty? Beauty is defined by the confidence you feel knowing that your best individual self is shining through. I think making yourself a priority and creating a routine of self-care are a big part of that journey.

What do you think when you hear the term “clean beauty”? Currently, the terms “clean” and “natural” are unregulated in the beauty industry and these terms mean different things at different companies. At Briogeo, we define clean beauty by banning known toxic ingredients from our formulas and seeking safe, natural alternatives wherever we possibly can.

Please fill in the blank as it pertains to something connected to your beauty routine, product or otherwise: I think about _______ a lot. Keeping my lips hydrated.

What is the opposite of “beautiful”? Being self-critical.

What is your morning skin-care routine? MDNA Beauty Roller, Tatcha Rice Polish Cleanser, Allies of Skin Vitamin C Serum & Vintner’s Daughter Serum.

What’s the last beauty product you use every night? Laneige Lip Mask.

Who cuts your hair? I alternate between Marina Perkovic at Eliut Salon and Nicole Cichocki at Truth Beauty Goodness.

Who colors it? Marina at Eliut Salon.

What’s the definition of “good hair” to you? Healthy hair.

Wish-list customer? Zendaya.

What’s your favorite synonym word for “hair”? Or do you have one that you hate? I’m not a fan of the word “tress.”

What aspect of your beauty routine tends to be neglected? My brow routine: I don’t pluck, wax, or thread.

Mascara of choice: Glossier Lash Slick.

What, if anything, is usually on your lips? Fresh x Ingrid Nilsen Sugar in the City.

What shade, if any, is usually on your toes and/or hands? I switch it up constantly.

What makeup item would you never skip? Mascara.

Preferred sunscreen and SPF No.: Supergoop Unseen SPF 40.

Bath or shower? Shower with Necessaire Body Wash.

Shampoo/conditioner of choice: Briogeo Don’t Despair Repair Shampoo and Deep Conditioning Mask.

Most-relied-on hairstyling product and/or tool: Briogeo Farewell Frizz Rosarco Milk Leave-in Conditioning Spray.

Scented candle of choice: Diptyque Jasmin.

What was your first beauty-product obsession? Pure almond oil! What I loved about it is that you can use it in so many ways. I remember being 14 and seeing my mom use it as a scalp-oil treatment, and I borrowed it from her. I started to use it as a mask for my hair, or I would add sugar to it to create a scrub. Before coconut oil was a trend, I used almond oil for countless beauty concerns.

Purse of choice: Celine.

Weekend shoe of choice: APL Sneakers.

What fashion item makes you scratch your head? Drop-crotch pants.

How do you like your bed? Making my bed is the first thing I do every morning. I have five pillows on my bed.

What do you splurge on? Wellness services: acupuncture, retreats, massages.

Any hidden or secret talent or skill you possess? I auditioned for the first season of American Idol.

If you could have one ridiculous indulgence, what would it be? A daily full-body massage followed by a facial and cranial massage at FaceLove.

What would the name of your autobiography be? Relentless. I’ve used this word to describe my approach to build my company. I think any successful entrepreneur needs to have a high degree of relentlessness in order to persevere during the challenging times, which are essentially a rite of passage to the really awesome times.

Who would star as you in the film adaptation? Gabrielle Union, only because so many people say we look alike!

What word do you overuse? “Totally.”

What do you think Pantone’s color of 2020 should be, and why? Emerald. It’s such a regal yet elegant and confident color that I feel hasn’t gotten as much love as it should.

What must you adjust or fix when you see it done incorrectly? I can’t leave a cluttered or messy apartment.

Favorite meal and where: Roti at the Dutch.

What is always in your fridge? Probiotics.

Comfort food: Blue Ribbon Fried Chicken.

Vice snack (or just vice): Häagen-Dazs Cookies & Cream.

What do you foresee as the top beauty trends for 2020? And please explain? Wellness has been at the forefront of beauty trends, in particular, wellness-focused beauty products, modernized facial and massage treatments, and fitness routines (yoga, meditation, etc). I hope that in 2020, we’ll see more focus on nutrition testing. For example, easier access to food allergen panels, gut microbiome tests, etc. I believe our internal health plays the most critical role in how we look on the outside and feel on the inside.

What product is currently your favorite (understanding that this could change all the time)? Our Don’t Despair Repair Deep Conditioning Mask. It’s one of the first four products that we created and is clinically proven to reduce hair breakage. This mask has been a long-standing staple of mine, and I use it to keep my hair hydrated, strong and healthy.

What product in your domain is misunderstood and should be a best seller? Our Farewell Frizz Oil. It’s totally silicone free — silicones are like trying to heal a dry cracked nail with clear nail polish. You get the illusion of strong and shiny, but underneath, the problem still exists. The right way to heal the nail would be to care for it and massage a natural nutrient rich oil into it everyday so that it can properly rejuvenate and heal over time. The same is true for hair oils. We use natural nutrient-rich oils that restore the hair’s health and minimize frizz over time. Because it’s silicone free, it’s a little heavier than a silicone-based oil, so a little goes a long way. Without this proper education, someone may use too much — as they would with a silicone oil — and feel like ours is too heavy or weighs down their hair. With the right usage education, the oil is brilliant and suitable for all hair types.

If you won the Power Ball tomorrow, what are the first five things you would do? (After, of course, donating the majority of it to your top charities …) Invest in a new home that I am able to have a lot of creative input into designing. My living space is really important to me because its where I spend a lot of my time and it can have a big impact on your energy. I’d also help my friends and family with education-related expenses, celebrate and take my closest friends and family on a dream getaway, and invest back into my company.

The CEO Who Went from Finance to Clean Beauty