Five Minutes With Kameese Davis

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Kameese Davis is the founder of Nylah Naturals, a brand that creates haircare products that are safe, gentle and effective. Nylah consists of a Strength and Shine Shampoo Cream, Super Botanicals Conditioner, Superseed Hair Oil Aveduric Hair Tea, Seamless Specialist Combs and Handmade Soaps. The brand was created in 2017 and since then they have won three awards; Hair Care Revolution, Precious Lifestyle Awards and Curly Treats. Kameese took time out to tell us about how she created her beauty brand.

What made you decide to set up your own beauty business?

The idea for creating the brand came about in 2011, frustrated with trying to find products that was suitable for my daughters 4C curly hair and sensitive eczema prone. I began to import products from the USA such as Carol’s Daughter and Oyin Handmade, but after a while the cost of shipping and custom charges became unaffordable. It was at that point I thought to myself, if they can do it in the US then why can’t we do it here?

Another of my key drivers was to set an example for my children, I want my daughter to know that as a woman, you can be whatever you want to be. I also want to teach the importance of perseverance even when its tough. I allow my daughter to see the tears and the frustrations associated with entrepreneurship, I then allow her to watch me dry my tears and get back to business. In so I teach her to do the same; that good things in life are acquired through hard work and resilience.

What is the concept behind Nylah?

The brand is named after my daughter and our ethos is to continue to celebrate Black beauty and heritage. We want to create a diverse offering for an equally diverse community and help to remove some of the negative stereotypes and frustrations often associated with afro hair types. We want to create a platform which celebrates heritage, hair and science.

Nylah also has an educational element, we also help to remove some of the myths associated with caring for afro hair types. Our range is based around the Pea Protein, which is a low molecular weighted protein that has the most comprehensive amino acid profile of any plant based protein. This raw material provides excellent strength and super hydration for highly textured hair.

What sort of research did you do to find out what sort of products your customers wanted to buy?

I spent years investigating the science and stricture of Black hair, so that i could ensure that I developed high efficacy products to meet the specific needs of Afro and curly hair types. Creating healthy products was of equal importance. during my research and I discovered that beauty products for Black women often contain toxic ingredients, including known carcinogen, irritants and endocrine disruptive properties. Ingredient consciousness is important to me so in the development of my products I consulted the EWG for every single raw material used in the formulation which helped ensure the purity and safety of my products. They are about hair maintenance, strength, hydration and health, as I believe that healthy hair provides the best foundation for creativity and styling. As we expand we will develop healthy and effective styling products.

Your packaging is very sleek, how did you decide on the look and feel of the brand?

Our textured hair and our heritage are beautifully intertwined, so it was important that I celebrated this in the development of my brand identity. I wanted a design that was intuitive in its ability to communicate For us By Us. I worked with an amazing designer who really helped to piece together my concept for celebrating African heritage with a sophisticated, bold and modern approach and I love what she has done for the visuals of my brand.

One of the first questions she asked when we started our journey was “if your brand was a women, who would she be?” This forced me to see my brand as a living person and conceptualise what she was about, her values, her mission and her message. I knew I wanted her to be an elegant, unapologetic, lovely, vibrant, strong and proud. So I gave several examples of women who reflected this - Solange, Jill Scott, the ladies from Curlture, Laura Mvula and Nandi Madida.

My designer took this information went away and worked her magic. The first time I saw her concepts I cried. (I’m a crier) she absolutely hit the nail on the head. I was speechless and to this day, I love how versatile my brand image is. With every new product there is the opportunity for a new pattern, and a new colour palette this creates a sense of excitement.

What are your future plans for the brand?

I have two new products which I am launching soon and I am excited to be expanding my range. As I continue to do so I will ensure that our brand stays at the for front of innovation, revolutionising the efficacy and performance of textured hair care. We are passionate about changing the implicit bias when it comes to highly textured hair, and we plan to do this through our untangled hair seminars. We are also focused on championing diversity in the beauty sector. we want to create a varied offering for an equally diverse community.

What are your favourite beauty products?

When it comes to beauty I keep it simple; I make and use my own soaps, and create a lot of face masks using kitchen cupboard ingredients. My favourite makeup brand is blackUp or bare Minerals.

What advice do you have for anyone who wants to set up their own beauty business?

I would say the most important aspect of brand development is authenticity; be unique, be bold and creative and don’t shy away from your brand message. Oh and consistency is key - keep going, you’ve got this!

You can follow Kameese on Twitter and Instagram.

For more information, please visit their website.