5 Minutes With ... Jose Bryce Smith, Original & Mineral

It was around three years ago that I was introduced to Original Mineral (aka O&M), a relatively new Australian haircare brand that prides itself on offering consumers quality hair care products minus harsh chemicals and, wherever possible, natural extracts and mineral actives.

It all started when British born Jose Bryce Smith met her husband Alan Buki, a professional hair stylist. For as long as he could remember, Alan endured bad contact dermatitis and working as a hairdresser meant that he could not escape dealing with the harsh chemicals on his skin. It was whilst working in Soho, London that Alan discovered an ammonia-free hair colour and it changed both Alan and Jose's way of thinking. When they returned to Australia they worked to master an ammonia-free hair colour and a product line free from nasty ingredients. And that's the birth of O&M and their stylish salon, Original A.

Since discovering the brand I have met O&M's founder Jose on not one but two occasions and just like her unique brand, she is super down to earth and an all-round lovely person. When she talks about the brand it is clear to see her devotion and her belief in the products. While I am personally a fan of O&M (especially Seven Day Miracle, The Power Base and Frizzy Logic), their recently refurbished salon in Paddington is a stunning masterpiece like no other salon you have set foot in. With the style team having just returned from New York where O&M created hair backstage 2013 Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week New York, we were thrilled to sit with Jose and chat about the whirlwind that is O&M...

Congratulations on being a mum again! How do you find juggling two children and a successful business? It's certainly a juggle. Trying to be present at O&M wherever I am is the key for me and sleep, it's overrated. I'm going to sleep when I'm old!

O&M is stocked nationally at hair salons and also in the US – congratulations! What else is in store for the brand? More expansion in the US and then Europe, I need to get back to my London roots. Oh and a few more products to roll out along the way.

How long has O&M and Original A been established for? We started our salon 13 years ago in Paddington and it was originally called Atlantis Hair. We brought ammonia free colour over from Ireland for our own use in the salon right from the start and then it morphed in to our own brand, O&M which we have been spreading the love through salons for the last 6 years.

Congratulations on Original & Mineral, we love your products! How did the concept eventuate? Alan my husband is a hairdresser and he had very bad contact dermatitis. He couldn't use ammonia based hair colour, it sent his skin in to a frenzy, so the line just kind of evolved, first colour and then hair care. We saw an opportunity to have a professional salon product that bridged the gap between natural and luxury.

Could you ever imagine that O&M would become a hair sponsor for New York fashion week in such a short frame of time? No we didn’t – to think that we would be at MBFW New York! It has been a whirlwind couple of years. We have been very lucky and we see O&M continuing to align with fashion. 

What has been the highlight of your career so far? My highlights are always found in salons: meeting hairdressers, when they connect with the brand and love it. It's just amazing.

Agreed - sleep is for wimps! O&M products are effective, free from harsh chemicals and they also smell delicious! How long does it take to perfect a formula? Oh it can take years! We reformulated our shampoos several times before we finalised them, there's always ways to improve. I think brands should always evolve.

Please tell us about O&M ammonia-free hair colour and its benefits. Mineral CCT is our next generation of hair colour. It has an active mineral complex containing Illite, Kaolin and Montmorillonite clays. Being ammonia, PPD and resorcinol free, it is low in chemicals and is gentle on hands and on hair. It's the first professional low chemical hair colour that performs like a conventional colour.

Original A is a stunning salon experience! How did the concept eventuate? We had been at our first location for 12 years and it was time to have a rebirth for the salon. It is NYC inspired as we are just about to start building O&M in the meatpacking district in NYC. We wanted the salons to be "anti-salons" in a way, so they have a relaxed vibe with some polished elements, some raw elements and then a little bit of crazy. It's part of the brand story.

Are you as cautious when selecting makeup and skincare products? Yes, I am quite obsessed, particularly with natural skincare and I am loving a very cute range I found in Brooklyn called S.W. Basics of Brooklyn (formerly Sprout), it's so simple and divine. For make up, I am in love with bright lipstick right now and Obsessive Compulsive Cosmetics Lip Tar, is genius.

Ooh! S.W. Basics looks fab! Name one O&M product you can’t live without and why. Original Queenie hairspray is a daily staple for me to plump my fine hair and it’s in a pink can - even better!

If you could choose any one celebrity to represent O&M, who would it be and why? Maybe it's because I'm British and a bit older, but I am a massive Kate Moss fan - that would be a dream come true for me. And at some point I would also love to work with Daphne Guinness because any women who wears nothing but couture and has blonde and black hair is genius.

Which do you prefer...
Natural makeup vs dramatic makeup? I'm a bright lips girl
Natural hair care vs. scientifically formulated hair care? Natural hair care that is still at the cutting edge of technology... you can have both!
Long, flowing hair or a pixie crop? I'm a long hair lover but not on me, I'm a bob and bangs chick.
Being a mum or a businesswoman? Oh both. Being a mum comes first and a business woman a close second.

Jose, what makes you feel Spoilt? Time is my biggest luxury, holidays with my family and taking time to breathe. I recently went to Gwinganna Lifestyle Retreat (on the Gold Coast, QLD) which was amazing.

Visit O&M's website for more information. | Visit Original A website for salon information.