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Career 180: From Wall Street to hair care

Nancy Twine is the founder and CEO of

Nancy Twine is the founder and CEO of Briogeo Hair Care, an all-natural, NYC-based hair product line. Photo Credit: Steven Menendez

Nancy Twine understands how much New Yorkers care about their hair. She is the founder and CEO of Briogeo Hair Care, an all-natural product line launched in the fall of 2013.

Twine landed a contract with Sephora last year in August -- Briogeo is now sold in several of the retailers outlets, including Sephora Herald Square -- which made her the youngest African American woman to launch a line with the retailer.

Before going into hair care, she spent seven years working on Wall Street for Goldman Sachs. Twine is 29 and lives in the East Village.


Why did you leave Wall Street?

I think I was just really ready for a career change. I had been in the same role for seven years, straight out of college. I felt like I got a lot out of that role but I was ready for a new challenge. I had always had an entrepreneurial spirit. I had saved up some money; I was supporting myself living in the city. I was just ready to do it.


Was leaving your job terrifying?

It wasn't because I didn't just leave my job and then say, "OK now I have to start this company." I had been kind of working on it in my free time for two years. I would spend time after work and on the weekends doing research and building things, that by the time I left I had felt like I had accomplished so much that it was more of a feeling of excitement than terror.


How did you learn about hair care products?

I had a family background of making natural products at home that started with my grandmother's generation. She did it has a way to provide for the family more cost-efficiently because they had eight children and they lived on a farm in West Virginia. When I was younger my mom and I would make all sorts of natural beauty products, all kinds of makeup, soap and lotions. When I came to New York City seven years ago I saw this trend in natural products, people becoming more healthy, more health-conscious, and I started seeing it in personal care.


Where did you learn about branding and marketing?

I didn't really. I think it's just being really passionate about my industry. I love beauty products. I used to go to Sephora and just browse the aisles, looking at packaging, looking at how people would market their product to stand out against the others. I think sometimes that's the best way to learn, is by learning from people who are doing it well as opposed to reading a book or taking a class. With the Internet also we have so many resources where you really can understand what other brands are doing beyond what you see on the shelves. Are they advertising, do they have a digital marketing campaign, are they on social medial? Et cetera.


What was an unexpected challenge in launching your brand?

Just given the fact that I had pretty limited capital I really started my brand with just myself as the only employee. I am hoping that this year is gonna be the big year for me to hire someone full time. But I will say that's been the hardest thing: Trying to do so many things at once and doing it well. And also it's just me, I'm the founder, and there is no co-founder so ? I don't have a big support team that a lot of other brands do. I don't have a marketing department or a purchasing department. I have had interns that have been a lot of help.


How have your profits been?

They've been good. I had a much stronger year than I expected. So definitely things have been skewed to the upside and I hope that we can continue to exceed expectations for 2015.


What is a common hair care mistake?

One of our best-selling products is our "Don't despair, repair! Deep conditioning mask." Really our whole thing, even though we're a natural product line we don't really tell people how to run their lives when it comes to hair care. A lot of our customers get chemical treatments; they use flat irons on their hair every day. What we can tell you is that if you use the right products, products that are natural and don't have a lot of harsh chemicals, they can really undo that damage. You have to try to think about your hair care regimen holistically.


Looking back, do you wish you had gone into this field originally?

I definitely do not wish I had just done this. Definitely my experience on Wall Street has helped me to become a better business person and to think about things more intelligently.


What do you have in the pipeline?

We're expanding into more Sephora doors this spring. We're in about 17 stores now and we're going to be launching in several more in the spring nationally.


Any advice for readers considering a career 180?

I would definitely suggest, if it's something that you could try to work on on the weekends, test it out kind of see if it's something that you're really interested in but also if it's something that really has potential before you quit your job. I think that's the most prudent way. I would also suggest trying to find a mentor or someone who has experience in the industry that you're looking to go into if it's something that's new to you.


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