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A Determined and Ambitious Entrepreneur Maeva Emerged Successful from Challenges

When Maeva Heim launched her hair care brand, she anticipated a few challenges, but nothing could have prepared her for a frantic phone call from an employee earlier this year.

“They were very upset and frantic,” Heim recounts to 9Honey. “I was bracing myself for something really, really bad. I thought somebody was injured or worse.”

Instead, her operations director in the US revealed that an entire truckload of product had been stolen.

At first, Heim thought she had misheard. “We really couldn’t believe it. Who wants 50,000 units of a hair mask from this tiny little brand? Wouldn’t you want a truck full of 32-inch TVs or Apple laptops?”

The thieves had made off with almost $2.8 million worth of Heim’s bestselling $49 masks, leaving her stunned in her home in Australia. She even had to involve the US police and FBI.

Dealing with such a crisis is far from the “glamorous” lifestyle many imagine when they hear she’s a CEO at just 33.

Growing up, Heim never envisioned having her BREAD Beauty Supply products on Sephora shelves. In fact, she had no plans to enter the beauty industry, despite many of her formative memories being set in her mother’s braiding salon in Perth.

“My mum’s an immigrant, and like many immigrant parents, you get dragged into their work, especially if they have their own business,” she laughs. “It’s a rite of passage.”

From the age of eight, she learned the foundations of beauty, womanhood, and entrepreneurship by watching her mother’s skilled hands weave curly, textured hair.

The salon catered to a close-knit community of women with curly, coiled, and textured hair, a demographic largely ignored by the Australian beauty market in the ’90s.

By the time Heim graduated university and landed a beauty marketing role, not much had changed. “I didn’t feel like I was ever able to really create anything that spoke to a more diverse audience,” she admits.

Soon, the idea of creating her own brand began to take shape. If she couldn’t market existing brands for women like her, why not create one?

The concept developed over two years while she worked at startups, learning how to build a business from the ground up. Eventually, she set out to make BREAD Beauty Supply a reality. The brand aimed to offer simple yet essential products for curly-haired women, akin to bread in the kitchen—hence the name.

“The brand is really about creating hair care products that are designed to be your must-haves, your staples in your curly hair routine,” Heim explains.

Bringing the brand to life required a significant investment—thousands of dollars in personal savings, loans from Heim’s partner and parents, investor funding, and support from Sephora Accelerate, a brand incubation program with the beauty giant.

Heim also secured a contract to launch the brand in Sephora stores across the US, where there was a larger market for Black-owned beauty brands.

By the time BREAD launched in February 2020, Maeva Heim had invested four years and thousands of dollars into the venture, with no guarantee of selling a single bottle of shampoo.

“If it fails, that’s okay,” she told herself. “Because if I don’t do it, I’ll regret that more.”

Then the COVID-19 pandemic hit. Heim was stuck in Australia and had to launch the brand remotely. It wasn’t the launch she’d envisioned, and she didn’t make it to the US until 2022. Despite these challenges, the brand’s success took off in a whirlwind journey.

Today, BREAD has won over 40 industry awards and is available in about 800 Sephora stores across the US, UK, and Australia. For Heim, the most rewarding aspect is seeing the brand’s impact on customers.

“I can walk into Sephora in Australia now and see a product and a brand that’s made for me. You see visuals in there that look like you, and you feel so much more included,” she says. “It makes it feel like we’re doing something that matters, not just selling shampoo.”

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