Brand of the Week: Made by SOMI
This brand is more than just a hair and skin care line. They go above and beyond to ensure that not only are your tresses and skin in tip top shape, but the community they serve are in great hands as well.
Welcome to another BOTW blog post! It's been a while since you've last seen us but we're back and we can't wait to get back into the groove of things, showcasing amazing brands and connecting with you all.
This week we are highlighting the inspirational and dedicated efforts of Dr. Omosude Kerobo (AKA Somi), CEO and Founder of Made by SOMI, a brand striving to create high quality products made to strengthen and promote hair and skin health, as well as uplift the community.
Dr. Omosude Kerobo, Founder of Made by SOMI
Made by SOMI is a U.S. based, 100% natural and organic hair and skincare brand that sells handmade products that treat conditions such as acne, hyperpigmentation, dry/oily/combination skin, eczema, psoriasis, dandruff, hair loss and many others.
MBS can first be traced back to the CEO's research at the University of Findlay in Ohio. While in college studying to get her PharmD degree, Somi realized that she enjoyed learning about compounding topical medications. Somi shares, "I was always amazed at how creating specific formulations would aid in the healing and treatment of different skin and scalp/hair conditions. In spite of my professional experience, I had always preferred natural and organic beauty options and would experiment with several skin and hair 'concoctions' for not only myself but for close friends and family."
This, combined with a passion for community advancement and building, led to the creation of Made by SOMI. The key inspiration behind the line was Somi noticing the business and resource immobility of novice business people. She writes, "It [the brand] was inspired by young African entrepreneurs whom I learned did not have the option of working part time jobs, enrolling in work study programs or having structural means of supporting themselves during university unless they were able to harness personal talents to create their own service and/or product based businesses. I created the brand to be able to financially support these individuals as well as empower them to develop their gifts with the hopes that they would one day reach back and do the same to those coming behind them." Clearly, Somi isn't afraid to take a leadership role and use her own business as a model to do just that.
The brand's intention is to empower through entrepreneurship and self-confidence (by means of appearance). In using this platform, they aim to employ the youth and plug them into an international brand they can believe in- one that will ultimately inspire them to dream, create, and manifest their personal desires so they'll be able to be self-sufficient pillars of their respective families and communities. Made by SOMI aims, as stated on their website, "...to invest in the youth of our homeland [Africa]," and they plan on accomplishing this by hiring youth for different positions (models, influencers, graphic designers, videographers/photographers, etc.), as well as providing more scholarships and grants to those seeking help to pay for tuition and/or needing funding for their business--- essentially, they're always putting the interest of the community first!
The path to get here, however, hasn't been smooth sailing. There's a lot of preparation needed and stumbling blocks faced when launching a business. When asked about the step-by-step process, Somi disclosed, "I did not want to skip the important foundational steps. Often times, I see several entrepreneurs skip legal, structural and financial aspects, etc. when starting a business which causes them to rebrand/relaunch every 6 months. I first started with the name, because in Nigerian culture, what you name a child is the most important aspect of having a child, aside from choosing the right mother/father for the child. I thought of how my name could trickle down to create the destiny/purpose of my business and built the mission and intention based off of that. I then wrote a business plan, did some R&D and looked at horizontal and vertical competitors. After the research, I then sketched a logo, created the limited liability corporation, obtained an EIN, a DUNS number, and opened a business bank account. I created a website, ordered shipping supplies, packaging and ingredients, then wrote/sketched out the labeling that was eventually contracted out to a young Nigerian graphic designer studying at the University of Benin in Edo State, Nigeria.
After alpha and beta testing, I set a launch date and began promoting and marketing the release of my new business while telling my story, showing off the inventory I had just made and creating anticipation for launch day."
Seeing your vision come to life exactly the way you planned is one of the most rewarding things when pursuing your dreams. Despite patience and planning, you can never anticipate what the next obstacle may be or where it may come from- and this was certainly the case for Somi. The most notable issue MBS faced was the onset of the pandemic, which brought with it a slew of other problems. For example, packaging became expensive because several distributors were backordered, and alternatives like Amazon almost sunk the business. However, the biggest success is knowing their products have been tried, tested, and proven effective- confirmed by multiple repeat customers. From all this, the biggest lessons learned were those in business etiquette, customer service, financial planning, and maintaining boundaries when it came to protecting the vision and image of the brand. This proves no matter what disadvantages you may stumble upon, there's always something to take, learn, and grow from it.
MBS is different from other brands because it was started primarily to help people. In actuality, it was supposed to be a non-profit but immediate funding posed as an issue in the beginning stages. CEO expresses, "The vehicle that it is using to help people is the skin/haircare industry because we believe that when people see a vision and purpose behind a brand in an industry as wide and as vast as this, they will be more inclined to offer financial, moral and organizational support." The brand drives its creativity from all walks of life and corners of the world. Healthy skin and hair, as well as, young entrepreneurs striving for greatness are the primary sources of not only creativity, but of inspiration and motivation. Community plays a major role in what Made by SOMI is, and you can't have a successful business without having others to cater to. Community building is extremely important to the brand because it’s the only way for progression, innovation, and financial freedom. Somi states, "Our communities should be well-connected and intertwined; this, we believe, is the only way that we can truly build unity and wealth among ourselves."
Additionally, the all natural/plant-based ingredients of the products are part of the brand's specialty and uniqueness. As Somi explains, "The importance of using clean ingredients in today’s society and culture is to slow down the rapidly increasing notion that you have to use chemically based products to change your appearance for the purposes of blending or fitting in, as opposed to using natural ingredients to aid in the natural healing and overall health of the skin and hair that we were all born with."
And when asked to share advice for aspiring business owners, Somi writes, "My advice is to have a plan; map things out, write a business plan, look at the structure of other competitors and lastly, but more importantly, identify a solid and undeniable reason for why you are starting this business. Also, keep in mind that enriching the lives of others with good intention will directly enrich your own life."
MBS is currently looking for brand exposure in shops such as African markets and beauty supply stores, as well as online and/or brick and mortar stockists opportunities. On a long term scale, MBS aspires to close retail placement deals in stores such as Target and Whole Foods. The future of MBS is to have domestic and international business and service partnerships as well as serve as a foundation for young African entrepreneurs.
See you soon in another post!