When it comes to the story behind successful brands, we hardly ever hear them being rooted from times of loss, grief and the path to honor legacy and heritage.
Erim Kaur birthed her hair oil business from familial roots stemming from the copious amounts of time spent with her grandmother in her kitchen, to now a successful hair oil business that is sold out online. Receiving glowing reviews from customers who likened it to being a ‘game-changer and a ‘dream’, customers have praised the oil for giving them ‘silky’ and ‘voluminous’ hair.
The hair oil is all-natural, unisex, vegan-friendly, and cruelty-free. It encompasses 8 different oils including argan, lavender, castor, amla and coconut oil promising to strengthen your hair to reach optimal health and encourage hair growth.
It all started from her unfortunately losing her mother to breast cancer at age 8, leaving herself and brother to be raised by her father. Without the help from sisters or aunties, he was faced with the challenge of looking after young Erim’s hair which led to her sporting a short bob for most of her youth until she approached her grandmother to look after her hair.
“We would get together different weird and wacky combos like egg masks, onion juice and turmeric. We were experimenting and slowly we came to find the ingredients that we liked and discovered the now dermalogically approved formula used in ByErim.”
Last year, she took the step into the unknown to embark on creating ByErim, capitalising on the social media following of 30,000 followers she had at the time) to market her product to her followers who knew her for her hip-length tresses.
Meticulous with every detail, the 25 year old entrepreneur went through rounds of lab and stability testing, getting the correct certifications and working back and forth with designers when it came to the intricate details on the bottle’s packaging.
Being completely self funded to date, the first shipment of products were packaged with help from friends in a hotel room as a makeshift warehouse.
However, she isn’t simply another young woman wanting to create a business, her eyes were set on something higher – she wants to mark her own legacy.
Hair plays a key role when it comes to shaping identity according to Erim. She explains: “My mother was stopping-in-traffic beautiful. When your mum dies, you want to hold onto what you can and her hair was her iconic thing. So, I pay homage to her through having this long hair and retaining it. I feel very proud of my appearance and I wouldn’t ever want to change it as I feel it would be an act of disrespect towards my mum.”
When it comes to religion and culture, hair plays a significant role as members of Sikhi don’t cut their hair as it is seen as a symbol of pride and having long hair means it requires extra attention in caring for it.
Family continues to play a major role with her dad now investing his time to work full time alongside his daughter to handle the supply whilst Erim takes on the lead with the sales and marketing.
“I truly had to prove a lot to my dad because he is a fantastic businessman and mentors a lot of people. It’s only when I proved my salt, my dad agreed to be on board.”
And it wasn’t just to her father, Erim felt that she needed to prove herself to her community as well: “As an Asian person, often our families [mine being an exception because my parents were born here], they made a lot of sacrifices to move to the UK and started business that often their children take over following in their footsteps.
Us Asian people are really good at business. I think there’s a lot of young Asians that are pressured into going into engineering, medicine or dentistry. I want there to be more of these brown creatives and entrepreneurs that are pushed to the forefront.
There’s a lot of us who have graduated to becoming more and I want the world to see that. I want young people to see it and be able to tell their parents “No, I don’t want to become a doctor, I want to have my own company because look, this girl Erim did it and she looks just like me and she’s done it.”
Another venture she has utilised her social media following for, was to create the Facebook community page in Erim’s Sisterhood, a group for other young girls to connect with one another, an opportunity she wished she had growing up. Girls in the group seek advice on a variety of topics such as skincare, fitness and relationship dilemmas and form friendships amongst each other.
“I didn’t have anyone to give me makeup advice. It was very much a self discovery journey for me”. Erim recalls she wasn’t very girly growing up and refrained from delving into the feminine world. “I was the girl with short hair and didn’t know how to do make up. Admittedly, I didn’t want to know because I didn’t want to try and fail and I didn’t want to be reminded that I didn’t have a mum because the idea of failing in this womanhood world was because I didn’t have a mum. This group is for those who may similarly lost.”
Both of us grew up in the days of teenage magazines as the source of wisdom to navigate girlhood. The likes of Bliss, Shout and Mizz magazine had us excited over magazine subscriptions, cringe pages and cheap makeup freebies. Erim’s Sisterhood provides a platform that offers young Asian women advice on various life topics.
Despite losing her mother at a young age, Erim recognises that she inherited the defining qualities of her mother’s personality that she now recognises within herself now as a woman in her mid-twenties, she fondly recalls “My mum was like a rebel, so no one could tell me what to do. I definitely think that I have that resilient, strong and independent nature about me as well. She was a strong woman.”
Throughout our interview, you can see how perceptible that is when it came to creating her company. Also, in turn mirroring her mindset. Later in our interview, I open up about some of the obstacles in my path thanks to a global pandemic, she kindly tells me ‘Don’t question the path God has put you on. He’s done it for a reason.’ A mantra that she lives by which has her able to recognise her achievements and also laugh at her experiences of rejection in the past. “I just got excited whenever these setbacks would happen because it meant something good is about to happen.”
The good that is on the horizon for ByErim is to launch it internationally to be available to customers overseas and to grow the product range to further expand the business empire.