By Design: Caring for black beards

Creating products that cater to Namibians

28 August 2020 | People

ESTER KAMATI



Lynn Komu has an interest in incorporating plant medicine into everyday life and her specialty is in essential oils and utilising them for aromatherapy. In 2017, By Design came alive when Komu started making beard oils fit for all types of beards. Eventually, she started running out of resources, but this was a time when she had specialised in meeting individual needs while also narrowing down what all men needed to care for their beards.

Believing in her skill, Komu began to charge for the oil. “Down the line it allowed me to streamline my knowledge into one beard oil. I still let my clients customise the scent,” although the standard scent for the oils is lime.

Since launching the beard oil, clients inspired Komu to expand, creating more products in order to meet more of their needs. These include a beard mist, balm and shampoo, which all form part of the By Design Beard Kit. However, the By Design brand is working on including a wider market in their range of products as Komu is currently working on perfecting a unisex face and body butter.

Launching a new product into the market is often a scary experience, but Komu says her product was received quite well in the market.

“I was one of the few beard brands in the market but I think my presence made it clear that black beards are valid too.” Komu has learned to expand her range and try new things, as initially, her products were specific to her clients' needs and requests. Due to pressure and encouragement, she has expanded her range and now her clients include women, who are especially interested in the shea body butter, which sells for N$80 for 200 grams.

“Running a small business allows me to interact with my clients, which I really like. I enjoy that personal touch, I like knowing them, I like watching them grow as people.”

One of the biggest challenges was establishing and introducing the brand and products, and after it was established, By Design gained clients' loyalty.

Like many other businesses, Covid-19 has affected the brand, as access to packaging has become difficult. This came at a time when Komu “finally found the perfect packaging”. She remains optimistic in adapting to the “new normal”. During this time, she has developed an interest in cooking as well as connecting with her spirituality and inner self.



Collaboration

Komu emphasises the importance of working together in business, a lesson that she values. “Working with other people and other brands has exposed me to things I would have never seen on my own,” she says, adding that Namibia is a small country, and working together makes it easier for local ventures to be exposed to global markets.

By Design was established when the natural hair movement was in full swing. During this time, Komu realised that there wasn't a lot of space for black men's beards, which went from “a thing that needed to be shaved to something that was a trend”.

Komu is focused on making products for the average Namibian and is currently focused on her face and body butter and ensuring that they work well in the Namibian climate. She intends to have face and body butter available, which is not too heavy but still moisturises. “Shea butter also offers natural sun protection, which I feel is ideal.”

Komu says her brand was initially built on Twitter. Nam Twitter encouraged Komu and opened up platforms for her to be invited to exhibit her products, which prompted her to come up with a brand name and logo and everything else which helped her establish the brand. Therefore, organically interacting on social media is one of Komu's entrepreneurial superpowers.