Perth-born, Melbourne-based Maeva Heim grew up in the hair industry. Her mother owned an African hair-braiding salon in Perth’s CBD, and she spent her weekends and after-school hours helping out. “We would import a lot of products from the US to sell in the salon,” says Heim, “so it was like a makeshift beauty supply store as well.”
Heim went on to study law and business, but when she reached the end of her course she decided she wanted to do something more creative, so she spent some time working in marketing at L’Oréal.
It was in this role that she realised beauty brands just weren’t talking to her. “I felt like the industry could do a much better job of providing products, services and better brand experiences to women of colour,” she says. “I remember speaking to my partner one day, complaining about this, and he said, ‘Well, what are you going to do about it?’ And I was like, ‘I guess I could do something to change it.’”
Eventually, that led to the idea for Bread Beauty Supply. Bread is a range of hair-care basics for “not-so-basic hair” – curl types 3A to 4C. The brand’s wash kit is a simple three-step routine to cut the time spent on wash day (“for textured hair it’s like a whole-day process,” Heim says).
Step one is Hair-Wash, a shampoo-conditioner hybrid. It has a milky texture (“like a liquid marshmallow”, Heim says) and smells like Froot Loops cereal milk. It’s made with argan oil, aloe vera juice, and lemon tea tree oil for scalp health. Step two is Bread’s hero product, Hair-Mask. It’s a deep conditioning mask made with Kakadu plum seed oil. Heim says it’s great for lubricating and conditioning the hair without the heaviness of coconut oil or shea butter oil. Kakadu plum oil is also used in step three, the Hair-Oil, which Heim describes as a lip gloss for hair. It can be used as the third step in your routine, post wash and conditioning; you can apply it to dry hair in between wash days; or you can leave it on the hair for up to two hours before washing. All three products come in full size in the Wash Kit – which also includes a Bread-Puff (a white satin scrunchie) – or can be purchased individually.
Heim’s decision to move into hair care stemmed from one particular personal experience. She was travelling in remote locations when her chemical hair-straightening product exploded in her suitcase.
“I didn’t have access to get another one because we were in the mountains somewhere. I’d been [straightening my hair] since I was six or seven years old, like every three to six months. I had no idea what my actual texture of hair was or even how to look after it. But I decided, in that moment, I was going to stop relaxing my hair.”
Heim found the options available to her were dated and overwhelming. That, paired with the fact that chemical hair relaxer sales in the US had declined by about 40 per cent over a five-year period and the natural hair movement was taking off, inspired Heim to create something for the centennial consumer. “Realising that we really wanted to create the staples of hair-care routine, I was like, ‘What are staples in other categories?’ And then we landed on [the name] Bread,” she says.