Glass meets Natanel Bigger – founder of haircare brand Monpure
THE FOUNDER of MONPURE, the entrepreneur Natanel Bigger’s story is a very unique one, from being brought up by a hardworking single mother in the conservative city of Hamburg, to being taken under the wing of Andy Rubin, CEO of one of the most successful British companies Pentland Brands. This prompted him to move to the UK, where he eventually set up MONPURE.
Initially working as Rubin’s EA, Bigger’s talents for growing brands were quickly recognised and he was soon headhunted by Zalando CEO David Schneider. Bigger helped build and develop Zalando’s direct-to-consumer and marketplace strategy before he progressed to become a Managing Director in a UK beauty conglomerate at the age of 31.
The founder of MONPURE – Natanel Bigger
His inspiration for MONPURE was born out of noticing a growing demand for hair loss and scalpcare solutions – in both the European and Asian markets, together with a glaring absence of such products in the sustainable luxury sector.
Glass interviewed Bigger to discover more about MONPURE.
The MONPURE Strengthening Silk Protein Shampoo
What inspired you to create your own haircare brand? Can you talk to me about your background and how it has shaped and influenced the creation of MONPURE?
I always knew from the age of about six that I was going to set up something for myself. I was going to have a product, I also learned to understand that getting the investment to create that would be a challenge, so I chose to work somewhere else first, learn from those who were more experienced and create my own business.
I noticed the rapid growth of Chinese market, so after leaving school I chose to study Sinology (Chinese studies) where I learnt to speak Mandarin fluently and lived in China for a period of time. After graduating, I was headhunted by Andy Rubin, CEO (now Chairman) of Pentland Brands and moved to the UK, where I became Rubin’s EA and learned about global brand building and brand management.
I later worked for the founder of the leading German online retailer called Zalando where I helped to develop and execute the direct to consumer strategy for brands via their platform (with 21m active shoppers at the time) and then progressed to Managing Director for a UK beauty conglomerate.
I was drawn to beauty for various reasons. It’s a really exciting time for the industry. The majority of beauty brands are owned by a lot of big players stuck in their rules. It’s difficult as one person to be innovative and make a difference to catch up with the vastly changing culture and consumer attitudes towards things like the environment. Every tiny change you make costs money, which means you can’t make that decision easily or on your own. It’s a long and arduous process.
Plus big beauty companies spend a lot of money on celebrity ambassadors and flashy campaigns, so they have to cut corners elsewhere to make up for it, usually on packaging and product formulas. They opt for cheaper ingredients procured in large masses. With smaller independent businesses we can be more dynamic and innovative. What we don’t spend on big-budget advertising, we use to prioritise better quality and clean ingredients, procured in sustainable amounts, and eco-friendly packaging solutions.
The growing holistic, educational and ingredient-led approach happening with skincare wasn’t happening with hair. The focus was mainly on styling and colouring as opposed to hair health. I wanted to create a brand that gets customers to rethink the way they care for their hair from the inside out.
MONPURE Follicle Boost and Hair Density Serum and
MONPURE Hydrate and Soothe Scalp Serum
I really like how you’ve listed different regimes that target specific hair concerns, so instead of aimlessly navigating your website, people are provided with clarity on which products and combinations will work best for them. If you had to pick a favourite item from your collection what would it be and why?
I’m extremely proud of the entire range, but particularly our Follicle Boost Hair Density Serum. It contains a special pumpkin seed extract which is extremely clever in how it works. It’s an enzyme that blocks a chemical called DHT produced by our hormones which is a known cause of hair loss. It also contains two ingredients that speed up cell turnover – lactic acid and retinol, to decongest hair follicles and create the best environment for hair growth.
Your products are predominantly designed to nourish and care for the scalp, which you hail as “the unsung hero of healthy hair”. Can you talk to me in a bit more depth about the importance of caring for your scalp, and how your products can help to achieve healthy luscious locks? Why are the benefits of scalp care so often neglected and overlooked by consumer markets?
A healthy scalp not only supports the production of healthy hair but also contributes towards the hair’s natural growth and retention. Traditional studies fail to recognise this interdependent relationship between the hair and scalp. Hence conventional haircare has traditionally focused on treating the hair itself with little attention paid to the crucial role the scalp plays as an incubatory environment for the pre-emergent hair.
Oxidative stress is a key aggressor when it comes to exacerbated hair loss. The International Journal of Trichology reports that it is prevalent in many skin conditions as well as pathological scalp conditions such as dandruff, seborrheic dermatitis, psoriasis, atopic dermatitis and ultimately alopecia. The oxidative stress that occurs from an unhealthy scalp can negatively impact pre-emergent hair strands, and thus plays a big role in premature hair loss.
MONPURE believe the scalp should be at the heart of any hair regime, which is why our products were created to treat both scalp and hair. Our products deliver fundamental benefits for better hair growth, as well as improving the quality of the hair itself, for boosted health, strength and shine.
The MONPURE Follicle Boost Hair Density Serum
The core values of MONPURE really resonate with me and what I look for in many of the beauty and hair products that I purchase. Can you tell me a bit about the importance of ethically and sustainably sourcing your ingredients, as well as other core values such as ensuring all products are cruelty-free and vegan?
I was shocked by the amount of harsh chemicals used in conventional haircare products, which irritate and dry out the scalp, as well as inhibiting hair growth.
With online beauty shopping, unless the product is faulty, you can’t try it on and send it back. How do you make sure the customer knows the brand well enough and trusts it to make a purchase? Hence why brands like ours have to have a strong ethos. It’s values over attitude.
We are totally transparent in our claims so customers have full peace of mind, like registering as vegan and cruelty-free with PETA, putting our products through extensive safety testing, having a lawyer go through all our claims so everything we say is backed up by science. All these things are so vital in helping the end-consumer make a decision.
Is there anything else that sets MONPURE products apart from your competitors?
Hair loss is something that affects 40 per cent of all women in their lifetime but for some reason men are much more vocal about it, nobody speaks about hair loss for women that much – up until now, brands aimed at women have been about styling it’s about treating and preventing. I saw a gap in the market. We are also the first luxury yet sustainable brand in the scalpcare and haircare arena and I’m very proud of that.
The MONPURE Hydrate and Soothe Scalp Serum
Where do you see vegan beauty and haircare in the future?
With the rise of independent brands like ours pioneering vegan beauty and haircare, I believe customers will come to expect vegan formulas as a given – not a mere selling-point. As we have proven with MONPURE, there is no reason to use animal testing or animal by-products to create effective, results-driven formulas and where us independent brands lead, hopefully the big corporations will follow.
Where do you see MONPURE in five, or even 10 years’ time? Do you have plans to extend your product range in the future?
The goal is to become the leader in two categories – the first category is sustainable luxury haircare. The second one it to become the leading authority in scalp and hair health. We want to build and continuously innovate in this entirely new category within haircare and transform the way people care for their scalp and hair health – I would love to extend into a comprehensive range that also includes clean styling products and men’s haircare.
I also hope to build an incredible company culture at the same time and develop a team that cares about having a positive impact on nature and society. My dream is to eventually be able to support smaller businesses that I believe in and have the freedom to do that.
MONPURE Nourish and Stimulate Scalp Mask
What are your top three must-have hair products that you can’t live without?
The first two? MONPURE’s Strengthening Silk Protein Shampoo and Strengthening Essence-Conditioner (these are packed with vegan silk peptides which strengthen the hair without weighing it down – the way sillicones can).
I also love our Nourish and Stimulate Scalp Mask, as it really feels incredible when you apply it and leave it on for 10-20 minutes. Running a business can take its toll where stress is concerned and I don’t want premature hair loss in my 30s! This will leave your scalp feeling happy, hydrated and stress-free – as well as creating the optimum environment for hair growth, with nourishing aloe vera and vitamin-rich camellia tea oil.
MONPURE Nourish and Stimulate Scalp Mask
How has the recent Covid-19 pandemic affected the launch of MONPURE?
(And after all, what we’re dealing with is nothing compared to what NHS workers are having to face on a daily basis.) JFK used to say, “The Chinese use two brush strokes for the word ‘crisis’. One is ‘danger’ and the other is ‘opportunity’.”
For me it’s not what’s going to negatively affect us, but how we can learn from and adapt to the current situation. Customers are at home and they’re stressed – they need clean and healthy products to look after themselves – that’s the opportunity for us. It’s also about being authentic in our messaging and connecting with our community who are looking for genuine brands that want to make a difference in the world.
Obviously, it was unfortunate not to have a launch event and bring the team all together. But through all the challenges we’ve faced, working separately from home, I believe as a brand, we’re stronger for it.
Finally, can you share some simple tricks or words of advice on how to care for your hair during lockdown?
Our secret weapon when it comes to feeling less frazzled, is to switch off all digital devices, light some scented candles and have some well-deserved downtime with our Nourish and Stimulate Scalp Mask. Just leave it on the scalp for 10 minutes to work its magic and enjoy the cooling benefits peppermint and eucalyptus oils, while its calming ingredients nourish the scalp and soothe any redness. #ScalpcareSunday anyone?
And if you’re dealing with a dry, flaky scalp, our Hydrate and Soothe Scalp Serum was created to soothe, hydrate and relieve itchiness with aloe vera and vitamin-rich camellia tea oil.
by Cara Jenkins
Shop MONPURE’s dermatologically tested collection of scalp and hair health products now at the MONPURE site
To keep up with their latest news and expert advice follow @monpurelondon
This content was originally published here.