Winter 2009 - Customer Focus

 

Jamyla Bennu of Oyin Handmade(Baltimore, MD)

Jamyla Bennu is the "Grand Mixtress" at Oyin Handmade. She has always enjoyed mixing things together, so several years ago when she realized her favorite "natural" body care products used petroleum and other harsh ingredients, she decided she could do better herself. She began mixing and experimenting with her own recipes and Oyin Handmade was born.

Ever since Jamyla was a little girl she has loved the word "oyin." It means "honey" in the West African Yoruba language. She discovered that honey was a versatile ingredient that was perfect for many beauty products so it was an easy decision to name her company Oyin Handmade. Jamyla officially began her company in the winter of 2001, supplying her all-natural hair and body care products to a small group of family and friends. But it didn’t really get going until the Oyin Handmade Web site was launched in the spring of 2003.

Oyin Handmade is a family business. Jamyla’s husband Pierre also works in the business focusing on marketing and shipping. He is a filmmaker, so he has also made some commercials for Oyin Handmade, something that is out of reach for your average small business. Jamyla focuses on the formulations and making the products and there are five part-time employees who also help.

When you browse their web site, you will see some products with unusual names. I am pretty sure they are the only company in the world with a hair care product called Greg Juice, named after Pierre’s cousin Greg. Then there is Frank Juice, which is not named after anyone named Frank but after the product’s fragrance, frankincense and myrrh. They also have coffee-flavored soap they named Cuppa Joe and a solid shampoo named Grand Poo Bar. Such fun names have helped get them some good press in industry magazines.

When Jamyla started Oyin Handmade she printed all the labels herself on vinyl material using a desktop printer. When that became too time consuming she used the commercial printer that printed brochures and postcards for them. But the labels were printed on individual sheets and had a 2" minimum. So for small labels they had to cut the printed labels in half by hand. Jamyla soon realized this had to change.

Jamyla discovered Lightning Labels while searching for a new label printer. Foremost in her mind was efficiency; she wanted a professional label printer who would supply the labels on rolls and be able to print them in a large variety of sizes. She was pleasantly surprised by the print quality of Lightning Labels. She loves the high gloss look, and the fact that the labels are very durable and waterproof. This is especially important for hair care products that typically spend their life in the shower. As they run out of their current stock of labels Jamyla is slowly replacing all the labels in their product line.

Chatting with Jamyla it is obvious Oyin Handmade is a labor of love. Even though I am sure it has been very challenging, you can tell that both her and Pierre love what they do. I have a feeling that the Grand Mixtress will be concocting these creative formulations for many years to come.

(Peter Renton)