Spotlight Baltimore: Jamyla Bennu, Creator Of Oyin Handmade

By: Beatrice Bangura, BmoreFab Correspondent

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Oyin Handmade first burst onto the scene in 2001 causing quite the stir in the beauty and hair world and they haven’t looked back since. We recently caught up with founder and creator Jamyla Bennu who shared her story, her thoughts on the natural hair craze and how she does it all.

What was the inspiration behind the Oyin Handmade and what does it mean?
Oyin is the Yoruba word for “honey.” Back in the day I lived in London for a bit and would buy Lush. I was in love with their natural body and hair  products! Once I moved back to the states, I realized that Lush was difficult to find in the states (This was before they had stores in America) Then the recession hit and I couldn’t afford to buy Lush or Carol’s Daughter, another one of my favorites.  I decided to just make my own. Once I started my friends and family loved my products and I started making some for them and eventually my customers.

Natural hair has seen a rise in popularity over the last couple of years. Has that affected your business in any way?
Yes, it definitely has. People who are into the natural haircare trend want to learn and become more knowledgeable about their hair products and what it does to their hair. They’re more likely to stumble upon us because their researching and identifying different options for haircare and self educating themselves.

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If you had to pick three products a first time client should try, what would they be?
Well, I’m going to cheat on this question and instead of give three products, I’m going to say our sample pack. It’s a great way to mix and match our products to find out  which one best suits your needs. They’re affordable and you get 2 ounces to really test out our products.

The store only opens on Saturdays. Why is that?
Five years ago we were presented with an opportunity to rent out the space where our store is currently and we couldn’t say no. We loved the space. We didn’t have enough resources to hire a staff, so we opened on the day that was easiest for  — Saturday. Five years later and it’s become almost like a special event for ourselves and the customers. We call it “appointment shopping or destination shopping.” Our customers plan their day around coming to the store and we make them feel special. We really take care of them and turn into an event. We also host special events like wellness events and pop up shops.

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How do you balance being a mom, business owner and wife?
It’s a constant balancing act. Over the past five years I’ve learned a great lesson. The importance of delegation and system building. There has to be a system in place that allows for things to run smoothly. You have to put the right team together. A strong team that can run things efficiently and have strong communication skills.

In honor of Women’s History Month, what advice would you give to women that want to start their own business?
Starting and having your business can be a lot of fun but often time we underestimate the amount of work that goes into it. It’s wonderful to be your own boss but were often too hard on ourselves. My advice would be don’t work yourself too hard and invest in your wellness. Take care of yourself.  Also keep in mind that the purpose of your business is to cater to the customers. When you start your business, it’s because your passionate about whatever the topic may be. Think the way a consumer would and cater your business to your customers.

Be sure to check out your latest Target for Oyin Handmade products available this month! Products can also be ordered at their official site www.oyinhandmade.com

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