It takes grit and determination to build a successful brand, and even more so when your brand centres around health-focused haircare, a good decade before ‘clean’ became a buzzword. Founder and CEO of O&M (Original Mineral), Jose Bryce Smith, sat down with us and explained why what we put in and on our bodies has such personal resonance for her, and why she feels so passionately about sharing her findings with others. Plus she gave some actually-doable tips to get proper volume into your hair, which we can never get enough of, and the playful trends she sees as being key for 2020.

IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @ORIGINALQUEENI

“My dad died of cancer when I was 17, and my mum had always encouraged avoiding the harsher chemicals, using simple products where possible, and eating organically.

When I started working in a salon every day, the fumes coming from hair colour were just incredible. I believed hairdressers didn’t know the long-term health effects of what they were breathing in or applying to people’s heads, and figured that if there was a hair colour that gave the same result as mainstream colour, but happened to be better for you, everyone would choose that. I had no idea that it wasn’t going to be so easy.

The safety of our clients and of our hairdressers has always been O&M’s driver. As the first to market in the “clean” hair category, right from the very beginning we’ve invested all our efforts into the development of safe, professional haircare and hair colour technology, that outperform our competitors. I love everything to do with beauty, and firmly believe you can still look the way you want to without having to use products which you aren’t confident in.

IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @ORIGINALQUEENI

Health has always been at the core of the O&M brand, including the health of the environment, and we are well on the way in our sustainability journey.

Our O&M factory in Sydney is 85% solar powered, and we are moving to using Ocean Recycled Plastic (Ed. note: see more on that issue here) for all of our haircare packaging.  The vast majority of our paper packaging is already recyclable, and we are going one step further by moving to suppliers approved by the Forest Stewardship Council (FSC). The FSC gives confirmation that the forest being used to produce a supplier’s paper is being managed in a way that preserves biological diversity, and also benefits the lives of workers and local people in the surrounding community.

I started working when I was 12, as a chamber maid in a hotel in the small town in England where I grew up. I’ve had every crappy job you can think of.

After university I started working as a secretary in an advertising agency in London, which is how I discovered media and sales. Cold calling taught me a lot about my ability to hustle. I moved to Australia in 2000 when I was 25 and worked in media planning and buying for about a year, before opening our hair salon, Atlantis Hair. I started on reception and then went on to manage the salon for eight years before founding O&M.

IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @ORIGINALQUEENI

When things go wrong, I think it’s the universe’s way of sending you a signal to regroup and think differently. Failing is all part of learning.

If you want to start your own business, you must be prepared to work harder and sacrifice more than you could have ever imagined. Be your own best friend – you have to be able to scrape yourself up off the floor and back yourself, to know you can do it.

Some other advice I would give is that when people show you who they are early on, believe them. You need to surround yourself with people who you can learn from, and you have to have the same values .

I have very fine hair, so my favourite styling secret weapon is making waves!

I love to put curls or waves in my hair underneath the top layers, to give volume, and then if I want even more volume, I spray Queenie (our hair spray) at my roots. I have to say, I never leave the house without using Desert Dry (our dry texture spray) – dry shampoo is a fine-haired girl’s best friend!

Make sure to always hold your iron horizontally instead of vertically when you’re doing this. I often see people who are DIY-ing holding the iron out horizontally but if you hold it down over your head and curl backwards or forwards, that’s how you get those beachy waves.

IMAGE: INSTAGRAM @ORIGINALQUEENI

Everyone should own the three fundamental hair products: shampoo, conditioner, and a treatment. Think of it like cleanser, moisturiser, and a serum. These three products are the foundation of good hair.

We are extremely excited to launch our e-commerce platform, as we can now ensure that everyone can access all of our products in one spot. Whether you’re a seasoned professional or a total beginner, you can easily find the best product for your hair type or hair concerns. Whatever style you can dream up, our website will point you in the right direction of the product to help. Need some inspiration? I believe we’ll be looking backwards as we move forward in 2020. Some of the hair trends I see being big this year are updated versions of looks that ruled in the last century such as non-blended highlights, playful edges, and every kind of hair accessory. It’s all about having fun where we can.”

 Story by Zoe Briggs. Select images via Instagram. Interview by Tess de Vivie de Régie. In collaboration with O&M.

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