From the ground up to love your skin

Tammy Nott, Owner of Mbiri Comestics at the launch of the Mbiri skincare range

A new wave of Namibian entrepreneurs is emerging and increasingly women are at the forefront, Tammy Nott owner of Mbiri Comestics is one such woman demonstrating that the spirit of entrepreneurship in Namibia is alive and well.

Nott launched the Mbiri skincare range to the Namibian public last month, “I am a young business woman who has a passion for Namibia and more specifically the Namibian desert. I grew up travelling to north-western Namibia for family holidays and my mum also works in that area with the conservancies. I grew up surrounded by conservation. My passion lies in the stories of Namibia and its people and plants. I went to film school in Cape Town and when I returned to Namibia I realized that my passion lay with Namibian stories,” Nott told the Economist.
“My mum is a plant ecologist and started a project in north-western Namibia. For centuries Himba women have been using a resin that comes from the ‘Commiphora wildii’ plant as an ingredient in their traditional perfume. She did research behind this resin and discovered an oil could be extracted from the resin. The women now harvest this resin commercially and earn an income. The resin is sustainably harvested and is collected from the ground so the tree is not damaged in any way. It is then sent to Opuwo where it is processed to extract the essential oil known as Namibian Myrrh. This processing facility is owned by the communities in the area,” she said.
Nott’s mother has been working on this project for a long time and Nott has been on many trips with her to meet the harvesters and has been to the processing facility. The story of people and plants inspired her and she wanted to take this story to the world. The way she could do that was by creating a skincare range using Namibian myrrh and other Namibian ingredients.
The story of Mbiri started when Nott entered a competition in 2013 and won N$35 000 to start her business. “This is where my journey began, I started a brand called Rare Scent I was making everything in my garage and was coming up with my own recipes. I then realized that the Namibian market was quite small and I wanted to export the product not only from a business point of view but I also wanted to take this story to more people. Most importantly I needed sales to increase so that I could support the community project more. The more products I sold, the more oil I needed to buy from the processing facility.”
Nott then invested money into creating a high end brand that she could export and got contract manufacturers on board as well as professional formulas to create the product range. They assisted her in meeting international regulations. Mbiri prides itself in having products that are 100% natural and is registered with the Vegan Society. It is endorsed by Beauty Without Cruelty and is an accredited partner of Phytotrade Africa. Mbiri’s goal is to support community enterprises while providing a high end product that presents a unique story.
The Mbiri skin care range’s uniqueness lies in the story and the fact that it is a Namibian based brand “The product is being very well received and people like to buy Namibian products on the shelf. The story definitely sells the product and people can feel a part of something bigger when they buy the product. Through the product they can support Namibian communities.
“Once I start exporting I believe people will also receive it well as it presents a unique story. I am targeting mostly women who are health conscience as the product is natural. I am also targeting the tourism market in Namibia as the products make for great gifts.
“When I start exporting I will be targeting health stores and pharmacies. As well as looking for an online platform to sell the products on”, she said.
Nott further told the Economist that she has plans to expand the skincare range, at this stage she has four products,a body lotion, body wash, lip moisturiser and the Namibian Myrrh essential oil.