For Black women who grew up in and continue to navigate predominantly white spaces, much of the discrimination we have faced has been tied to stereotypical and often historical ideas about Black hair and bodies. This has in many ways shaped how Black women present themselves to the world and the relationships they have with their hair.
For decades, Black women have relied on chemical relaxers and heat-intensive styling practices that are not only expensive and labor-intensive but can also have severe long-term effects on their health and well-being. The boom of natural hair content on social media in the early 2010s created a cultural reset that has redefined beauty by focusing on Black women’s evolving relationship with their hair. What has come out of this has been a great emergence of creators, educators, and entrepreneurs who have established industry-disrupting brands that are rooted in putting Black women’s hair-care needs at the center of product development. One of those people is Maeva Heim, the founder of Bread Beauty Supply, “a hair-care brand for not-so-basic hair.”
Maeva was born in Australia and as the only Black girl in her community, she found solace in her mother’s hairdressing salon – the only place that catered to Black hair in her hometown of Perth. Created out of Maeva’s personal reckoning with her natural hair, Bread Beauty Supply launched in 2020 out of a desire to develop staples that meet the hair-care needs of women with curly, coily, and kinky hair textures. Having spent years working in marketing for brands such as L’Oréal, ASOS, and Procter & Gamble, Maeva saw a gap in the market for gentle hair-care products that deliver results and embrace Black women’s hair in its natural form. Her mission to redefine beauty for a more diverse consumer impressed executives at Sephora, leading to Bread Beauty being selected as part of Sephora Accelerate, their beauty start-up accelerator. Since launching, the brand has been sold by retailers including Sephora, Selfridges, and Cult Beauty.
Teen Vogue spoke to Heim about loving her hair, building her brand and making her way in the beauty industry.
Teen Vogue: How has your relationship with your hair changed since starting Bread Beauty?
Maeva Heim: The journey with my hair has been gradual. It feels like it’s all happened at once, but it was a process that took years. Now that I feel much more comfortable with my hair it feels weird for it to have felt any other way, but I know that growing up my mum relaxed my hair and it was always in a weave or braids. I just never knew what to do with it because it had never been in its natural texture. I remember the first time I had to go to school without a weave. It wasn’t even in its natural form. It was still chemically straightened, but I was so mortified that by 11:00 a.m., I went to the nurse’s office and pretended that I was sick so that my mum would come and pick me up because I was so embarrassed. So to go from that to owning this brand that is all about championing your natural hair. And for me to feel so comfortable, happy, and joyous to just have my natural Afro out, is a long way to come.