Long before the green beauty movement took hold, Jose Bryce Smith was struck by the spark of an idea, that it would be possible to create salon-grade hair products using natural formulations.
It’s a business concept the Bondi-based mum ran with and now eighteen years later, Original & Mineral (O&M) can proudly declare it turns over millions of dollars every year.
‘I took the biggest risks of my life with O&M and always believed in what I was doing,’ the 43-year-old told FEMAIL.
As well as revealing the secrets to her incredible success, the hair care guru also shares her top hair care tips for creating shiny, healthy and luscious-looking locks.
Jose Bryce Smith (pictured) is the founder of organic hair care brand Original & Mineral (O&M)
Jose revealed her ‘light bulb’ moment struck in 2000 after seeing the effect some chemicals found in colouring products had on her ex-partner’s dermatitis.
It was then she started to research organic chemical alternatives and in the process discovered monoethanolaminemine, an organic alkaline that worked as well as the colour processing chemical ammonia.
‘We had clients with scalp sensitives, pregnant women who were looking for alternatives, and people going through chemotherapy looking for natural products,’ she said.
‘I took the biggest risk of my life with O&M and always believed in what I was doing,’ Jose said
Initially, she imported colouring products which contained this chemical into Australia from London and as well as being able to offer clients this in-salon alternative, Jose said she also started supplying other salons.
We bought a container load over and put it in our garage. I was selling it to anyone who rang the salon and we were packing it between clients
‘Hairdressers did not believe that ammonia free would cover grey or give blond. It was received with doubt by everyone but then the product worked so the uptake was fast.’
Jose added her salon – the first organic salon in Sydney – was given a lot of positive press. It was media coverage, she says, which helped push sales.
‘We bought a container load over and put it in our garage. I was selling it to anyone who rang the salon and we were packing it between clients.’
Although she ran her business alongside her day job, the entrepreneur knew she had a winning venture on her hands when sales figures started to top $25,000 a month.
Research into organic chemical alternatives led Jose to discover monoethanolaminemine, a gentler alkaline compound
Despite this, it would take another seven years of selling imported products from her salon before she’d strike out on her own.
‘Our vision was to bring nature and luxury together in a line of Australian-born hair colour, care and styling products that are safe, effective and beautiful to use,’ Jose said.
‘There are lots of great hair care brands which I admire, but I think we pioneered the healthy hair message.
‘We’ve spent years researching ways to reduce harsh chemicals in hair colour and hair care without compromising on results.’
Jose worked tirelessly to build the brand, packing and selling products from her garage at night while working the front desk during the day
What is PPD?
PPD (or paraphenylenediamine) is a chemical substance that is widely used as a permanent hair dye.
Darker shades of hair dye products contain higher concentrations of PPD than lighter shades.
Today, all of O&M’s hair care is made in Sydney, and the brand can boast the first original five free formula: no sulphates, parabens, propylene glycol, philates or tricolsan.
Over the years, the brand has also become a front-runner in the world of natural colour formulations.
‘Science has recently confirmed what we always believed, that PPD is thought to be linked to cancer,’ she told Hair Expo Australia.
‘Science has recently confirmed what we always believed, that PPD is thought to be linked to cancer,’ Jose said
‘O&M is PPD-free and has been for many years – PPD is particularly high in dark hair colours.’
COR Color – ammonia, ppd, resorcinol free hair colouring product – is the brand’s third generation of hair colour and according to Jose, their best-performing yet.
‘COR Color has set a new benchmark for performance,’ she said. We are focused on performance and results for hairdressers and we know that COR colour performs like conventional hair colour but has no smell or fumes.’
The brand is stocked by a raft of luxury retailers and also boasts a flagship New York salon
Despite the business’ incredible success over the past 18 years, Jose admits there were times when fear almost got the better of her
The O&M brand isn’t just a firm favourite among Australian beauty aficionados – it’s also stocked by luxury retailers such as Net-A-Porter, Selfridges, Neiman Marcus and Sephora.
There’s also a flagship New York salon academy which the brand uses for their global training.
Despite the business’ incredible success over the past 18 years, Jose admits there were times when fear almost got the better of her and put paid to her dream.
‘I had a lot of fears for managing on my own and it could have stopped me but I told myself to get a grip,’ the savvy entrepreneur said
‘My greatest fear was not to live life to the fullest or reach my highest potential, and that always made me want to do my best,’ she said.
She’s also had to contend with being a single mother to two, a son, aged seven and a daughter aged 12, for the past five years.
‘I had a lot of fears for managing on my own and it could have stopped me but I told myself to get a grip and go day by day and focus on the outcome I wanted.
‘I took the biggest risks of my life with O&M and always believed in what I was doing.’
The 43-year-old might be at the top of her game, but for now, there are no plans to slow down.
This year the brand has a planned expansion into new regions including the UAE and Russia.
What are Jose’s tops tips for healthy, luscious locks?
Jose believes it’s better to only wash your hair just three times a week if you can
* When washing your hair avoid shampoos and conditioners which are formulated with sulphates, parabens and alcohol. Sulfates strip your hair of natural oils and also dry out your hair.
* Also limit your hair washing schedule to three times a week. Washing daily strips the hair of natural oils.
* Rinse conditioner from your hair in cool water. Cold water helps seal the ends and locks in shine.
* If you’re swimming a lot during summer apply a mask or conditioner pre dip. This dramatically helps with your hair from drying out in the sun or ocean.
* Try limiting your use of heated styling tools to three times a week instead of seven. Also make sure you use correct styling product to help protect hair from the heat
* Sleep on a silk pillowcase as the natural properties of silk, including its smooth surface, can help reduce friction on your hair which often causes damage, like spilt ends.
She reveals her attitude toward business and life is one of ‘backing yourself and having a go’ as well as being willing to take the knocks.
‘People are going to doubt you, but be your own best friend. Smile politely and thank them for their input and then follow your instincts.
‘There are times that you will definitely need to re-strategise but the challenges are where some of the greatest learnings come from so don’t be afraid of the lows.
‘The universe is sending you something you need to learn,’ she said.