Happy Women’s History Month! To celebrate, we’re spotlighting beauty trailblazers and IPSY brand partners who are putting their stamp on the industry. These women are pushing for inclusivity, breaking business barriers, creating new beauty categories, and innovating from a whole new perspective—and we’re all the better for it.
Nancy Twine was a rising star in finance. She was an intern in the legal and compliance sector, transitioned to the sale and trading desk, and climbed the corporate ladder at a large financial firm in New York City for the next seven years, eventually becoming a vice president. She was on an upward trajectory, but there was something missing.
“Almost half way through my finance career, my world changed after I suddenly lost my mother,” says Twine. “This tremendous loss was incredibly difficult. It made me see that life is short, and that I needed to fill my life with work that ignited passion and positivity.” It was the loss of her mother that set off the soul-searching journey on which she kept revisiting childhood memories in the kitchen with her mother–but they weren’t doing the kind of cooking you might expect.
“Growing up, I struggled with my hair because the products in the market weren’t hydrating and nourishing enough for my hair texture,” she recalls. “I needed to take matters into my own hands. My mom and I would make our own homemade, natural beauty products in our kitchen using natural oils, butters, and extracts from our local health food store.” Twine learned at an early age that it was possible to create effective, transformative products for your hair and skin using only simple, clean ingredients.
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Fast forward 13 years, and Twine’s clean, high-performance hair care line BRIOGEO (which recently sold to Wella Company for an undisclosed sum) has won countless beauty awards, she has guest lectured about her business success at Harvard Business School, Wharton Business School, and New York University (to name a few), and she now serves on the board of Cosmetics Executive Women (CEW). So how did Twine go from a VP in finance to a total beauty trailblazer? Well for a while, she was doing both at the same time.
“While still working at my finance job, I began doing my own beauty industry research and writing a business plan at night and on weekends,” she says. “Though it took a lot of late nights and hard work, not worrying about how I was going to pay rent allowed me the headspace to be more thoughtful about my approach; it also made me more confident in my decision (and timing) to eventually leave my job to focus on BRIOGEO full-time.” That research and due diligence led her to discover a big gap in the market for clean, effective products. From there, BRIOGEO was born. Her goal from day one was to create a line of carefully crafted and clean hair care and to open doors for people of all hair textures, hair types, and ethnicities to identify with one singular hair care brand as their own.
“This has always been an integral part of who we are, so much so, that it’s right there in our name—Brio is an Italian word meaning ‘vibrant and full of life,’ which celebrates individuality and diversity, and Geo is a Latin word meaning ‘of earth and nature,’ which represents our clean, 6-Free™, and nourishing formulas, plus our NOVA Complex® [BRIOGEO's proprietary blends of natural oils, vitamins, and antioxidants],” says Twine.
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Going from idea to inception, however, was easier said than done. “When I first started going to investor meet-ups and pitching sessions to raise money to start BRIOGEO, it was hard to make a compelling brand pitch to these tech investors who were mostly older men,” says Twine. “After I’d been to a handful of these networking events, I got discouraged because I felt like the people in the room weren't consumers of what I was offering, so they didn’t really care about the passion project I wanted to bring to life as a female entrepreneur.” She faced many obstacles and setbacks, but she never let those disappointments get in the way of chasing her goals.
In 2013, she was able to secure an initial investment and officially launch BRIOGEO. The brand was a fast favorite, launching in Sephora that very same year. “The first year was very exciting, but it was also very challenging trying to drive business with limited resources while taking risks and learning to trust my gut,” says Twine.
“Since I began my professional career in finance, I didn’t have a network in the beauty world,” she says. “As I began the process of growing my team, I didn’t have instant access to a pool of well-qualified candidates to tap into, so I made some hiring mistakes early on. It was tough to hire top talent when my business was so small, and I hadn’t yet proven myself. This led me to take on so much as the CEO, while also acting as the CMO, CFO, and COO, because I didn’t have the right team, which was a huge challenge.”
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Through her years as founder and CEO, she’s learned the importance of surrounding yourself with a good team. “At the end of the day, no one gets to success alone,” she says. “You go further if you have a strong internal team and external support system. As an entrepreneur, I’ve learned it’s really important to keep an ‘abundance’ mindset. I’m extremely grateful for my beauty founder friends because we support each other, share advice and perspectives, and promote each other’s products. There’s a misconception that you need to be competitive in order to survive, but that’s not true—every brand has its own unique story and products, and there is room for everyone!”
“I’m thrilled to see a long overdue uptick in retailers prioritizing the diversification of their brand offerings for a more representative community,” she continues. “The world is evolving in that more investors and retailers are intentionally focusing on giving more opportunities to women, which has definitely helped me and not hurt me. People are focusing more on diversity, and gender is a big part of that.”
Do you want to try out products from amazing, women-founded beauty brands including BRIOGEO? Take our Beauty Quiz now to get started with your own IPSY subscription. Already a member? Refer your friends to earn points, which you can use toward products. Either way, don’t forget to check us out on Instagram and TikTok @IPSY.
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