Sham, her business venture and OrCam MyEye 2

A successful business starts with a great idea. VisAbility client Shamira, or Sham as she likes to be known, spotted a gap in the market for specific beauty products for people with disabilities. Sham’s OrCam MyEye 2 device allows her to read the recipes to develop her products.

Shamira smiling looking to camera.
Sham loves the textures and smells of her beauty products

Born with congenital optic atrophy (link opens in new window), Sham has only 3% vision and wears cochlear implants. Sham also has spinocerebellar ataxia that causes problems with mobility. The 18-year-old relies on a walking frame to manoeuvre about. She wanted to create a range of products that would suit people with limited vision and movement.

Her products have wonderful names, like Loofa Uplift Soap (made from her uncle’s loofas), Oatmeal Milk Bath Soak, Lemon Scrub Drops, Easy Sleep Soap and Apricot Delight Moisturiser.

Sham credits OrCam MyEye 2, as the key to allowing her to succeed in her business.

We went to meet Sham to see her at work making her beauty products and discover more about Sham’s Beauty Products.

How did the idea for the business come about?

My brothers were getting jobs. I am in year 12, so I had started thinking about the future and what I could do.

Sham holds a jar with label that reads Smooth Soothe Moisturiser
Sham’s moisturiser started off as a school project

It started because of a school project. I was asked to  organise a business venture for a market. My mum and I decided to offer hand massages.

Of course, to undertake the hand massages, we needed to create a basic moisturiser and some scrub solutions.

We thought long and hard and decided to use only natural products.

I am creative and love making things and immersing myself in the smells and textures, so it gathered momentum from there.

I designed the labels myself. They are very plain because I wanted them to be accessible and easy to read.

Explain how you make the products and how OrCam My Eye 2 helps?

I make them at home in a designated area with a worktop. I use an electric induction stove because it’s safer because there’s no hot electric element.

For my moisturisers and soaps, I have to heat the ingredients, the water and the oil. I wear protective thermal gloves when I am mixing the ingredients, weigh everything on a talking scales and use a talking thermometer.

I mix everything together with a blender and heat it up before adding preservatives. When it’s cooled, I add in essential oils and fragrances. I grind up the oats before pouring powdered milk for my milk soak.

I use a local shop online to buy the raw ingredients. My uncle Shannon grows Loofa, and I use this in my Loofa Lift Soaps.

Shamira looks at recipe with her mother overlooking her shoulder
Sham wears her Orcam MyEye 2 device during production

I use the OrCam MyEye 2 to read my Braille recipe cards.

It’s a wearable device secured to my glasses via a magnetic mount.

There’s a with a camera on one end and a speaker at the other end.

OrCam’s tiny camera can read the text, identify products and barcodes. Information conveys via speech. It needs batteries to operate.

OrCam MyEye 2 comes with a lanyard, so you can’t lose it if it’s knocked from your glasses. By tapping the side of the device, you can give voice commands. An unusual feature of the OrCam MyEye 2 device is face recognition, so I know if a family member, friend, or person is in front of me.

How did your Easy Soap range for people with disabilities come about?

I developed it because of my own experiences. Putting soap on a flannel is tricky because of my limited hand movements, so we got creative and tried some different ideas. I realised that if the flannel was within the soap, it was easier to use.

Loose scrub products fall everywhere, so we created my innovative scrub drops that are easier to handle. They are perfect for people who have poor fine motor skills. You need one scrub for a shower.

I designed the labels myself – they are very plain because I wanted them to be accessible and easy to read.

What challenges do you face in your business?

Heating the products can be tricky, so I prefer having someone to assist. I struggle posting the products online, so my mum or a support worker helps.

Marketing is another area of my business that I need to develop. I visited a workplace and gave out hand massages and was able to sell my products there. It was for a relatively short amount of time in a quiet space which suits me.

If I’m selling in an area that’s too noisy, I can’t hear. Traditional weekend markets are too long for me as they are five hours or more. I use a walker, so the market area needs to be flat and accessible.

A range of art products are also for sale in my online shop. I love pouring paints, using stencils and glitter – experimenting with textures.

How has VisAbility helped you to do what you want to do?

I have been using VisAbility’s child and youth services for many years. I have undergone Braille training, white cane instruction, occupational therapy, speech pathology, dietetics and physiotherapy. When I was younger, I used to attend the school holiday programs.

I do exercise physiology at the Gym every week. Because of my degenerative condition, I don’t want my muscles to seize up, so the gym and physiotherapy keep me strong and moving.

I recently completed work experience at VisAbility, assisting at Playgroup and in the Reception. I also cleaned toys in the Kites Toybox Library. It’s like my second home. I hope to volunteer again with the Guide Dogs WA Mini Dogs.

When I was growing up, I attended the VisAbility holiday programs. During one of these I learned to cook. I truly believe the cooking I did then is helping me now to create my beauty products. To find out more about Sham’s business, go to her Facebook page (link opens in new window) or Sham’s Beauty Products Made It page (link opens in new window).

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