Equally clumsy – TEINT dares to care with skin-tone adapted plasters

Nebe Al-mayahi is the brain behind the brand TEINT, which challenges the status quo around daily consumer products. Although we are living in a diverse society, there are areas between “nine to five” and beyond, where some people might feel not as included as others. Simply because society shows them with commonly known simplicity, they are not fitting the norm. That is something that happens quite unnoticed unless you consider it from a different perspective. The initial idea to solve a not known problem happened to come to Nebes mind, when she was pregnant and did something, everybody is doing occasionally – browsing through a local supermarket. It was in that period of her life when she felt very much in touch with her own emotions – observing the surroundings that her child will be facing soon. That’s when she recognized a man, wearing a plaster, that clearly distinguished from his skin tone. Nebe who has spent most of her life in the healthcare and life science industry asked herself: why has nobody thought of adaptable plasters before and started her diversity-focused brand in 2021. Since then, Teint is working towards an inclusive everyday product Industry, which portrays the contemporary society we are living in accordingly.

Teint translates to “complexion”. Why did you choose the name?

Our first product is Teint, which can be translated to ‘nuances’ – a soft way of showing the differences between people.

Nebe Al-mayahi, the Founder of the inclusive plaster brand Teint

Where do you find beauty and inspiration?

I like to taste words. They are the most beautiful thing, especially when they are well-chosen and balanced.  So, I find beauty within conversations with people and in the words, they choose to describe a feeling or a memory. Visually, I love architecture and as a hobby, I try to guess the year a certain building was constructed by its windows.

Your background is in healthcare and life science. How does this influence your design approach?

I have had the privilege to work with many industries as a diplomat and a management consultant in the Middle East, although healthcare and life science have always been my focus. My healthcare background influenced me to never compromise with quality and pay attention to the smallest details, including the regulatory implications. Plasters for example are classified as a Med Tech product and there are many regulations that we need to fulfil to bring something new to the market. What we did: we reimagined the traditional plaster and did not compromise on the timeless design, which reflects the Scandinavian minimalism and the diverse society we are living in.

What about your heritage and upbringing, how does this influence the products?

I am a second-generation Swedish immigrant with roots in Iraq that has been raised in an underserved suburb with a very limited financial outlook. When I became a diplomat, I had the opportunity to move and learn to navigate the room among different public figures. Teint’s design approach reflects both worlds: the simple and the redefined. As an everyday product, plasters are consistent and matter. Precisely, they have the power to create this sense of belonging that many people out there are missing – especially in foreign communities.

Where is the connection between design and culture?

I believe that design is the construction and collective physical outcome of a culture, which mirrors it in a tangible form.

All dispensers are refillable and made of recyclable paper

And how would you define a modern product?

It is something, that considers everybody’s needs: user experience, sustainability approaches, and the demands of future generations. All of that simultaneously, while having a beautiful design with function in mind. We believe that everyday products should be treated with the same love and attention, that are applied in other design disciplines

Can you explain why people are on one side so eager about being woke and working towards a diverse society, but on the other hand there is a total blind spot when it comes to the diversification of daily consumer products?

I believe people and companies really want to work towards Diversity and Inclusion, but the focus has traditionally been centered around people – which is a great thing. Companies are working on their recruitment and communication methods, but the missing part is the awareness of the products itself. That is something that resonates with the overall reaction when people see our product. They always think: „Why haven’t I thought of this before?”.

You aim to challenge society’s lack of products that meet everybody’s needs. How exactly are you operating?

We want to remake everyday consumer products and make them exciting and accessible to every person – irrespective of their race, gender, ethnicity, religion, nationality, disability, socioeconomic status, identity, and sexual orientation. We want that people feel seen, heard, and empowered to thrive. At Teint, diversity, inclusion, and sustainability are a natural component, that influences the entire business, where everyone is working towards this vision. Therefore, we are also doing projects such as the cooperation with the Swedish Prison and Probation Service, where female inmates pack our plaster packages. This is an active choice from our end to work with inclusion, to give people a chance for employment that will hopefully benefit them in the future. What we also learned is that our project is actually contributing to the inmates’ mental health, since it gives them a sense of purpose while spending time on a meaningful task.

Social Media is a big part of communication, do you think it can be useful for your sake?

We have built our brand on social media and if it wasn’t for the consumer’s strong commitment and support, some of our resellers might have not considered buying our product. I strongly believe that Diversity and Inclusion advocacy is driven by consumers and employees, whose voices are amplified on social media. Especially with brick & mortar shops, there is always an “it doesn’t sell”-argumentation. Personally, I don’t believe that this is true, because if something is not available on the shelves it will obviously not create a demand. Our plasters are products that should be available, and once they are, they will sell.

Teint reminds me a lot of the make-up industry. Back in the day, there were just a few shades, but today they managed to change that. Do you think plasters could be the next thing?

The make-up industry has come the furthest to offer a variety of shades to meet the demand. But that is just the beginning: We have identified so many products that are not adapted to the diversity of our society. These products are not only limited to the shade of your skin, but rather to the broader sense of what diversity means.

Teint currently offers five shades of plasters

Can we still distinguish between health and beauty products today or are the two sectors slowly starting to merge into each other?

We live in a time where lifestyle products are on the rise, which floats between different sectors depending on their emotional trigger on people. This means, that a product like ours, which is initially related to healthcare, can migrate from this category to beauty. Thanks to its design, it can even be seen as an interior element, and to some people, it is a statement as well.

Are you planning to add more shades to your palette?

Our ambition is to make everyone feel catered for. That’s why we want to improve the nuances of the existing colour palette and add more shades to it after collecting customer feedback. Currently, we are exploring more durable and sustainable materials such as bamboo, which is biodegradable.

Do you think about incorporating something like a shade finder that enables customizing plasters?

Funny that you ask, we have developed a first beta test with an AR application where you can try the existing plaster shades – to see what fits you. Our goal is to have an on-demand print of plasters – imagine how fun that will be!

When you think of changing big issues, everyday products seem irrelevant at first sight– but they have a certain power, due to their consistency. What are your thoughts about that and how do you plan to influence other brands or retailers to adapt your vision of inclusive products?

I hope that through our work at Teint, we can inspire an outdated industry to start offering everyday consumer products that suit everybody. We want to show that inclusive products are also a profitable business and something that consumers want and demand. Companies and business leaders must understand that inclusion is the new sustainability – something that everyone, regardless of the industry, must contribute to in order to be innovative, relevant, and up to date.

How can we make sure “design” will be and stay inclusive?

Diversity and inclusion should be in every company’s DNA, whether they have a physical product or offer services. Once it is part of the core business model, it will naturally trickle down to everything you do.

What are your plans for the future?

Long term, we want to become a blueprint for how to create diverse and inclusive products. Short term, we are in the final development stages of our next innovation, which will launch in September. It will be something completely different from what you have seen of Teint so far since we are broadening the meaning of inclusive products. We will enter the space of Diversity & Inclusion in Fem Tech and reimagine again a neglected everyday product. So, we are continuously working on making things accessible for everybody and bringing change to the industry.

Fatima Njoya
September 23, 2022
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