The woman behind Papua New Guinea’s first cosmetics line tells Business Advantage PNG ‘there is so much potential to come’ for the country’s fashion and beauty industry.
Feeling ‘left out and unrecognised’ led Lynu Summer to create the Lewa Collection, which she is claiming as Papua New Guinea’s first cosmetics line. The collection now sells to 21 countries.
‘There was a lack of representation and there was unavailability of beauty products for women of colour,’ she tells Business Advantage PNG.
In 2016, tired of mixing together different foundations in the hopes of a shade that wouldn’t make her complexion look ashy, Lynu, who at the time was studying for a nursing degree in Australia, started researching beauty and fashion.
‘I had a background in makeup, hair, fashion and nails and launched a small mobile hair and beauty salon, where I worked as a beautician,’ explained Lynu. ‘But I knew that in order to achieve my dream I needed to know more about cosmetics products: what’s best, what’s in season, the latest trends, the ingredients, tricks of the trade.’
Lynu launched the Lewa Collection two years later, in May 2018, through her company, Lynu’s Beauty. The collection’s name is a tribute to Papua New Guinean women.
‘Since the launch, more PNG beauty brands have been developed. It’s wonderful to see the industry grow.’
‘I wanted a name that unified and represented the diversely beautiful women of PNG. Lewa in tok pisin means “heart” or “love”,’ she says. ‘It’s a widely used term among Papua New Guineans, and other Pacific Islands such as Fiji and Vanuatu also use it.’
Inspiration only knocks once
When Lynu was designing the Lewa Collection, she was thinking about ‘the coloured women who want that dark maroon shade that goes so well with their complexion, but couldn’t find one,’ she says. ‘I was thinking of all of those coloured women that wanted makeup but there was nothing for them.’
She believes that developing products catering specifically for Pacific women and women of colour has been grossly overlooked by the beauty and fashion industry, but that seems to be changing.
Since she launched the Lewa Collection online with its signature product, the Provincial Liquid Matte lipstick, other PNG beauty brands have hit the market.
‘Since the launch, more PNG beauty brands have been developed. It’s wonderful to see the industry grow, and to also watch something you created start a movement,’ she says.
The beauty and fashion industry is growing in Papua New Guinea and, according to Lynu, ‘there is so much more potential to come’.
‘It is empowering women to not only embrace their beauty and uniqueness. They are now starting to utilise their skills and open up small businesses. A range of makeup artists, hairdressers, nail technicians and resellers have opened their businesses.’
From PNG to the world
Social media has made it easier for startup companies to launch new products globally. For Lynu, selling the Lewa Collection on Facebook has been ‘easier, convenient and cheaper, for everyone’.
Lewa Collection’s lipsticks, foundations and eyeshadow are now being sold online in 21 countries including Australia, New Zealand, Fiji, Samoa, Tonga, Singapore, India, Philippines, Dubai, United Stated, UK, Norway and Vanuatu, among others.
‘I believe Lewa became very popular quickly because it was the first of its kind in PNG and also some of the Pacific. It is also a unique product that incorporated a PNG theme throughout the beauty brand, which I think also helped increased its popularity,’ Lynu notes.
In PNG, the Lewa Collection is sold online and through its agent, CJ Accessories PNG, which is based in Port Moresby.
The distribution in PNG, however, has been the company’s biggest challenge. ‘My two-year plan is to make Lynu’s Beauty products available on a national scale,’ she says.
Lynu is currently working on a new website, finishing Lewa Collection’s new range of products and planning a small launch in Brisbane and Port Moresby.
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