June’s – ‘The Beauty Issue’ – Download Now
Negin Mirsalehi shares the real story behind Gisou, a brand born out of a passion for honey bees and haircare.
Can you talk us through your career?
My career really started while I was still completing my studies in marketing. During this time, I thought it would be a fun outlet to maintain a blog about my biggest passions: beauty and fashion. I was one of the first bloggers on Instagram, and I guess my content resonated because I quickly became one of the fastest-growing beauty and fashion influencers globally. My channels didn’t take off by themselves – I definitely had to work at it and post on a consistent basis.
I received the most positive comments and questions about my hair. So, I was inspired to share my beauty secrets through a beauty line. In 2015, Maurits and I launched Gisou, a line of bee-based haircare products. Since then, I maintain a career as an influencer, but also as an entrepreneur.
What inspired you to start your own brand?
When I first started blogging, my content was centred around pictures of my outfits and beauty tips. At a certain point, I shared more of my personal life, including my family’s bee garden. I was surprised by how interested my followers were in my family heritage and the bees.
My father is a beekeeper and my mother is a hairdresser. We grew up using honey from our bee garden for a wide variety of purposes, and my mum used it in her homemade hair products, which she also used on me. I was inspired to share my homemade haircare secret using honey from our bee garden. We launched Gisou with the Honey Infused Hair Oil, which is based on a homemade family recipe formulated by my mum. Gisou is the project I am most proud of – it’s inspired by my family and heritage and combines all of my passions for bees, nature, family and beauty into one brand.
What was the process of starting your own brand like?
Maurits and I started Gisou in our living room. We really focused on taking the time to develop the brand and our first product slowly. We created packaging, branding, and the website from scratch and learned a lot along the way. It was, and still is hard work, but mostly, it was a lot of fun. We also focused on building a Gisou community. We hosted pop-ups in Paris and New York and involved our community in product development decisions and other projects along the way. Our community is and always will be at the heart of what we do. Gisou continues to be a full-time job, but it’s something that we’re both really passionate about, so it never really feels like work.
How has Gisou evolved since it launched?
Since we launched the Honey Infused Hair Oil in 2015, we’ve focused on growing the brand slowly and only selling our products via our own channels. We grew our product range to a line of Honey Infused products focusing on nourishment and hydration, and a line of Propolis Infused products for styling. We’ve also launched several sets and tools, such as our limited edition Curling Tool, which we purposefully took more than 2 years to carefully design and develop – it’s encased in a 100% sustainable tool case made of paper pulp. Just last year, we partnered with Sephora in North America and more recently in the Middle East. At this point, I can only say that there’s much more to come in the coming years.
How did you find your way into the beauty space?
Beauty is one of my passions. My mother is a hairdresser, and I grew up always receiving the best advice and tips from her. Through her, I learned the importance of healthy hair and of taking good care of maintaining it. I used my mum’s homemade hair oil using honey from my father’s bee garden since I was a little girl. As my followers showed such interest in my hair and my family’s beekeeping heritage, I was inspired to share this homemade haircare secret through Gisou.
What sets Gisou apart from other brands?
Our heritage story and our community, who is a part of everything we do! A key part of our heritage that is reflected in our products is our key ingredients, Mirsalehi Honey and Propolis, which we sustainably source from our own Mirsalehi Bee Garden. We take a cruelty-free, bee-centred approach and only ever take surpluses. We truly believe in the natural powers of honey and propolis for hair – they’re both rich in vitamins, minerals and antioxidants to repair and strengthen from within. Honey is unique in the sense that it’s a natural humectant and thereby maintains the hair’s natural moisture balance. Propolis, which is made by bees to strengthen the walls of the beehive, is our not-so-secret key ingredient to enhance your styling routine.
What is at the core of the brand’s DNA?
At the core of Gisou’s DNA are the bees, haircare and our community. Gisou is about creating hair care products with the best sustainably sourced, bee-derived ingredients from my father’s Mirsalehi Bee Garden. And through this, we involve our community every step of the way – from product development decisions to raising awareness for the bees with them.
Who the Gisou woman?
The Gisou woman is strong, passionate and ambitious. She also cares about the planet and about bringing out her own natural beauty.
What have been the hurdles you’ve experienced throughout your careers?
As someone who is very ambitious and passionate about what I do, it’s been maintaining a good work-personal life balance – the hurdles have been involved with that.
On the opposite end of the spectrum, what have been the milestones?
I am proud of a lot of things related to my own blog, but seeing Gisou grow into the haircare brand it’s become has by far been my proudest achievement. Hosting our first pop-up, launching with Sephora in North America and the Middle East are only a few of the milestones. Seeing Gisou’s takeover of the Dubai Mall window was definitely a pinch-me moment.
This is ‘The Beauty Issue’ – how do you define beauty?
Beauty is a very personal thing – it means something different to everyone. For me, beauty comes from happiness, self-confidence and sincerity. I think that if you are doing something that you’re passionate about it really resonates and shines through.
June’s – ‘The Beauty Issue’ – Download Now
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