In 2015, veteran Nyja M. Grant’s health was drastically declining. Her doctor informed her that she was going to have to make a decision. She saw several specialists, and they all agreed. To ensure that she was making the right decision, Nyja began researching her condition, less evasive treatment options and what had possibly caused it.
Nyja’s research led her to alarming data. She learned that by age fifty, 80 percent of African American women of African descent are diagnosed with uterine fibroids. Nyja was astounded. Digging a little deeper, she found out that fibroids are the number one cause of hysterectomies and other reproductive issues. Several studies have linked the ingredients in African American beauty products to infertility, fibroids, and ovarian cysts. Many hair products on the market for Black women contain chemicals that affect hormones and can cause these bodily issues. These harmful ingredients contribute to the higher mortality rate concerning neo-natal deaths for Black women. With Nyja’s failing health, thinning hair and continuous alopecia flare ups, she decided to make a change.
Nyja chose to use this time to heal from the inside out. She promised to give herself a two-year grace period. During this time, she would not relax, cut, or dye her hair. She began to research alternative natural hair care and body products. Nyja searched for products that were safe, good quality and didn’t break her spending plan. To Nyja’s dismay, she was not able to find any products that she loved.
In formulating her product, Nyja chose to use ingredients that were free from parabens and mineral oils, with no dyes or unnatural fragrances. She instead only opts for necessary and natural components, such as avocado, argan and jojoba oil. Not only are her products FDA-approved, but they are also cold-pressed and organic. As such, her skin and hair care easily penetrates hair shafts and absorbs into the body. Nyja’s focus on clean integrants also reflects her simplistic approach to branding.
RESPiRE by DESiGN (RbD) products work for all hair types, no matter one’s ethnicity or gender. These unisex formulations can be also used for the face and skin to provide hydration, exfoliation, and moisturizing properties. R&D’s “Restore” neem oil is has anti-inflammatory attributes, which are great for rashes, eczema, and psoriasis. For those who struggle with pigmentation and dark spots, “Lots of Love” can be used directly on the skin or infused into bath water. The company’s oil can also be used for cuticle care and massages. A little bit of this product goes a long way, and because of its many uses, it is wonderful for travel. Nyja helps heal her customers from the inside out, and they continue to repurchase her trustworthy, versatile hair and skin care.
RESPiRE by DESiGN is geared towards 30–40-year-old women. However, Nyja’s demographic is expanding now more than ever as Black hair is becoming more protected by HR agencies. Whereas Black hair has wrongfully been seen as unprofessional– and children have been banned from school for sporting their natural styles– this antiquated attitude is beginning to shift. Now, celebrities like Justin Beiber are sporting dreads, and the politics of Black hair are being brought into the cultural conversation by change-makers like Gabrielle Union.
As the years passed, Nyja started to give out her butters as gifts. People loved her healthy, safe, affordable product and wanted more. One day, Nyja’s son told her that she should sell her product. He even provided her with a whole business plan. Nyja launched RESPiRE by DESiGN as a birthday gift to herself, while living in the United Kingdom.
RESPiRE by DESiGN Mission Statement
“’Respire:’ to build hope and strength, despite difficulty. I understand that life is not all about looks, but let’s be honest – people feel better if they are comfortable in their own bodies. Something as simple as a good hair day and glowing skin can do wonders for self-esteem. ‘RESPiRE by DESiGN’ was birthed from a difficult situation, and evolved beyond being just a business. For founder Nyja, ‘RESPiRE by DESiGN’ is personal. The lowercase ‘i’ stands for inner beauty, insight, inspiration, and intention. ”
- Nyja M. Grant, Founder & CEO, Analyst, Database Manager, Anthropologist, Epidemiologist, Veteran
Questions for RESPiRE by DESiGN by 360 Magazine:
How did your diagnosis affect your outlook on life?
When I was diagnosed, I felt vindicated. I had been seeing doctors and specialists for nine years, only for them to insinuate that I was a hypochondriac. While I was elated to have a diagnosis, my new reality hit me hard. I would no longer be able to bear children. My hope for a little Nyja was not going to happen. The pain made me go into research mode. I wanted to identify ways to help myself, what caused fibroids, and how to prevent this from happening to others. I couldn’t change the damage that was done, but I can prevent further by using healthier products. When I could not find healthier products, I decided to make them.
What type of ingredients do you use in your body butter?
Each of my products are formulated with ingredients that are cold pressed, vegan-friendly, and do not contain preservatives, chemicals, and dyes. Each product is safe if ingested, making it safe for our skin and hair to absorb.
The oils I use are: Sweet Almond Oil, Avocado Oil, Grapeseed Oil, Castor Oil, Olive Oil, Jojoba Oil, Argon, Vitamin E and Neem Oil
For scents I use the following essential oils: Lavender, Tangerine, Vanilla, Ylang Ylang, and Peppermint
The butters I use are: Mango Butter & Cocoa Butter.
Whether you choose RbD products or not, please keep in mind that your skin is the largest organ on your body. Everything you put on your body will eventually be absorbed into your body.
What is the difference between a body butter and lotion?
To be honest, not much. Several soap recipes use similar ingredients. I just haven’t had a large enough demand from my customers to add soaps to my product line. However, my plan is to add hand-crafted soaps to my line in 2022.
The key difference between a lotion and a butter is in their ingredients. Body butter contains shea butter, and various oils like coconut, or jojoba. Body lotion is often a combination of water and oils. Body butter is often thicker, heavier, and has an oilier finish to it. However, RbD products are uniquely formulated to absorb quickly into the skin and hair to prevent leaving an oily finish.
In what ways does hair butter help hair?
RbD’s ReNew Hair Butter is naturally formulated using oils similar to those produced by our body. This makes it easier for these oils to penetrate quickly to soften hair, minimize tangles, smooth hair follicles, provides moisture, prevent split ends and breakage, improve retention, nourish the scalp, provide protection from sun damage, and promote hair growth.
Would you recommend your hair butter for all types of hair?
Yes, I would recommend ReNew for all hair types. However, I would suggest the product be used as described below:
For thin or straight hair– Use ReNew Hair Butter as a hair mask. Let the mask remain on your hair for 10-20 minutes. Wash your hair as normal with lukewarm water.
For thick, coiled, kinky, or curly hair– Use ReNew Hair Butter when pre-shampooing. Apply a generous amount to your hair, then add your conditioner of choice. If you are going to use a plastic cap, allow it to sit for 20-30 minutes. If you are using a steamer, allow it to sit for 15-20 minutes. Then, rinse out the conditioner using lukewarm water.
Does RESPiRE by DESiGN have any new products coming out in 2021?
Yes, I have two products coming out in 2021–ReStore Hair Oil and Bath Bombs.
ReStore Hair Oil was formulated for individuals who have a temperamental scalp. The key ingredient is Neem Oil. Research has shown that Neem Oil has the following benefits: promotes hair growth, prevents boldness, conditions hair, helps with dandruff and itching, treats head lice, treats scalp infections, and prevents premature graying.
If used as a body oil ReStore will: moisturize, sooth inflamed and itchy skin, repel insects, treat acne and pimples, treat hyperpigmentation, treat scars and blackheads, act as a layer of protection against environmental damage.