West Virginia Grandmas are the hands that rock the cradle of many legends and national success stories. Lady Gaga’s Grandmother is from West Virginia, and rapper Big Sean, whose “One Man Can Change The World” song, gives credit to his West Virginia Grandma for not giving up.
“How am I supposed to say I’m tired? If that girl from West Virginia came up in conditions that I couldn’t survive. Went to war, came back alive ” ~ Big Sean
Thanks to a BBG reader, I was tipped off about another West Virginia Grandma success story, Nancy Twine, CEO and Founder of Briogeo.
Briogeo is a natural hair care line inspired by her Rand, West Virginia, grandma’s kitchen hair care recipes.
Twine, like me, spent years in the unincorporated town of Rand.
Rand is a special, but truth-telling place, and was at the center of my first book, “Valley Girl.”
My family lived on Starling Drive, a horizontal street. I know it was horizontal, because it was a bird name. A ll of the streets in Rand that run vertically are named after colleges. The story told to me was that a group of Black men named the streets as wayfinding for the United States Postal Service and the future.
They are alphabetical: Alderson, Bluefield, Clemson, Davidson, Furman, Glenville, Kenyon, and Marshall.
There are not enough streets in Rand to get to “V,” but Rand always dreams of college for its sons and daughters.
Twine attended the University of Virginia.
Twine left UVA in 2007 and went to Wall Street where she was a trader before starting her multi-million dollar company, Briogeo. Her story is one of resilience, love and home.
Briogeo was acquired by the Wella Company. Nancy Twine will remain in her role as CEO of the award-winning hair care brand that she started inspired by her Grandma’s hands.
She, unlike me, is part of the successful Black Appalachian diaspora. I always joke that the “famous” Black West Virginians all have another thing in common besides their success: they left.
But then I remember what Grandma June, a native New Yorker, always reminded me, that the work I do in West Virginia is hard. And if I can do it in West Virginia, I can do it anywhere. I’m doing it in West Virginia. Nancy Twine is doing it because of West Virginia.
BBG has contacted Briogeo with a request to interview Nancy Twine.
I’ll write more here about Nancy Twine and the Grannies that inspire me daily.
Until, enjoy meeting Nancy Twine, CEO Briogeo on the NPR Radio podcast How I Built This.