Safiya Hassan is the owner of N-Diya, a store that sells 100% natural skin and hair care products, located at 449 Nostrand Avenue between Hancock and Halsey streets.
For 18 years Hassan worked as a registered nurse, a profession that suited her natural inclination for treating and healing others.
But while she was spending so much time healing others, there was something she neglected to do – yet badly desired – and that was to heal herself: Since she was a child, Hassan suffered from eczema.
“With eczema, not only is it painful, but it causes an emotional and psychological effect on you because your skin is disfigured,” said Hassan. “It’s hard to be interactive and social when you feel like everyone is looking at you. It’s just not easy; people with eczema suffer.”
She said she always had an affinity toward natural healing, so she began experimenting with natural oils, earth butters and other products until finally she developed one that seemed to work.
“I created a product line,” she said.
“It started out as me wanting to relieve my own issue with eczema and not wanting to use chemicals that had side effects. And then at some point, it just blossomed into this and just took off. And here I am with this business today," she said, as she smiled broadly and waved her arms at all the products around her.
N-Diya (which is a play on Hassan’s middle name, India) opened the summer of 2009 and carries a line of hand-made, N-Diya-branded products, including cleansers, toners, moisturizers, detox masques and, of course, the "Healing Butter," a special salve for battling eczema.
N-Diya also offers spa services, including massages, hot stone massage therapy, eyebrow threading and exotic fruit facials.
“I love what I do. I get to introduce people to a whole other side of health care and skin care,” said Hassan smiling. Her face, her arms and her skin are as smooth as milk chocolate.
Since opening her shop, Hassan said, she cannot count the number of customers who have heard about her products through word-of-mouth. She remembers one elderly man specifically who had eczema from head-to-toe his entire life.
He was referred to her. She sold him her Healing Butter and Healing Cream. When he returned a week and a half later after using her products, she said, he had tears in his eyes.
“He said, ‘Thank you, thank you, thank you.... I’ve tried prescription drugs, even natural remedies, and this is the only thing that has ever worked. You don’t understand what I’ve been through.’
“And I said, “But I do. I do understand,” she said, as she began to tear up herself. “To be able to share my products and see customers experience the same relief I have experienced… words just can’t express.”