Over the years, there have been significant moments that have redirected the natural products industry. One such moment occurred when Olowo-n’djo Tchala and Prairie Rose Hyde met in 1996.
ALAFFIA: THE BEGINNING
No one could have imagined a young man born and raised in Togo, West Africa and a young woman from rural Washington would go on to build one of the most successful fair trade body care organizations in the natural products industry – no one except them, that is.
Today, Alaffia is now operating in a 102,000 sq. ft. warehouse in Olympia, Washington creating intentional formulas with safe ingredients.
The women’s cooperatives in West Africa handcraft indigenous raw ingredients; the Alaffia team in Olympia create the finished products, and then the proceeds are returned to the communities to fund empowerment and gender equality projects.
SUCCESS MEASURED BY EMPOWERMENT
Alongside the body care business is The Alaffia Foundation. The foundation’s mission is aligned with Alaffia’s core values and facilitates Alaffia’s Empowerment Projects through the advancement of fair trade, education, sustainable living and gender equality.
The Alaffia Foundation is set up as a 501 non-profit that provides a platform for individuals and organizations to donate eyeglasses, bicycles and school supplies; volunteer one’s time at the Olympia facility to break down bicycles and load supplies to be sent to Togo; and make direct monetary contributions to any of their Empowerment Projects: Maternal Care, Education, Vision Correction and Reforestation.
Currently, Alaffia directly impacts over 14,000 lives in West Africa through its women’s cooperatives and Empowerment Projects for sustainable development.
THE ALAFFIA RANGE
When consumers are searching for products that make them feel good, they’re looking for great value, high quality products that are free from harmful ingredients that don’t ruin the earth.
In fact, according to Nielson consumer research, 66% of shoppers would be willing to pay more for this type of sustainable product. Plus, 87% of consumers said they would be willing to buy a product or service based on a company’s advocacy concerning a social matter because 78% of the research participants wanted companies to address social justice issues.
If you’re looking to do more ‘good’ in the world, you can’t go past stocking Alaffia. When a brand or product offers all of the above and gives back to people in need, it’s a clear win for everyone involved!
The collections are award winning and span across two specific lines:
The value line includes the Shea based and Coconut based body care, as well as the Authentic Black Soap collections. These are ideal for general and household use, for everybody and every day.
The signature line includes both the Neem Turmeric and Coconut Reishi collections which are tailored for unique skin types.
If you’d like to provide safe, efficacious hair, face and body care while alleviating poverty in West Africa you can order Alaffia products via our online store 24/7, or call one of our friendly sales team members on 1800 787 904 today! Not yet registered with us? You can do so here.
EVERYDAY ESSENTIALS THAT ARE ON-TREND, HIGH-QUALITY AND SET FOR STRONG SALES HAVE BEEN ADDED THIS SEASON.
MODERN MENSTRUAL CUP
Lunette Menstrual Cups are made of 100% hypoallergenic medical silicone. They’re an easy-to-use, safe alternative to pads and tampons, with popularity continuing to grow.
Being the only FDA and TGA listed coloured cup range, Lunette is perfect for the modern, active woman!
Cupwipe Disinfecting Wipes and a sulphate-free, scented Menstrual Cup Cleanser are also part of the range.
Schmidt’s award-winning deodorant sticks now come in Sensitive Skin Coconut Pineapple, Jasmine Tea and Lavender Tips. All are enhanced with natural magnesium and free from aluminium, propylene glycol, parabens and phthalates.
Redmond Clay Baby Powder is talc free and unrefined, perfect for baby’s sensitive skin. Made with only rare, high-desert clay, it contains no chemicals or fragrances so customers won’t have to worry about allergies or irritation.
Australian made, safe and proven effective, BUG-GRRR OFF Natural Insect Repellent Jungle Strength is the natural alternative customers have been waiting for. It contains Hydrolized Oil of Lemon Eucalyptus, which is approved by the Centre for Disease Control and the only natural compound scientifically proven to be as effective as DEET.
Ecosoothe is the brand customers will be wanting to help mend and soothe the body. Aloe Vera Gel offers a refreshing and hydrating solution to minor skin irritations and burns, plus it’s certified organic! Arnica Cream, Calendula Cream and Muscle Ease Cream help aches, pains and stressed skin to heal – and all at competitive prices, from just $6.95 RRP!
FAIR TRADE HAIR + BODY
Alaffia have combined powerful neem, balancing turmeric, odour-neutralising charcoal and protective shea to create an ethical, on-trend deodorant – available in Lemongrass Tea Tree or Mandarin Ginger.
They’ve also added an Ultra-Hydrating Coconut Lime Shampoo, Conditioner, Body Wash and Body Lotion made with fair-trade coconut oil, fatty acids, vitamins and minerals.
TURMERIC ORAL CARE
My Magic Mud have brought Australia another cutting-edge formulation. On-trend turmeric and antioxidant-filled cocoa combine to create Polishing Tooth Powder in Peppermint or Spearmint.
The oral care powder is a first, helping to re-mineralise and polish teeth while soothing gums. If they’re are anything like the original, get ready for some super-fresh sales!
Giovanni have extended their Frizz Be Gone range to include Leave-in Conditioner, Hair Balm and Serum. Combining shea butter and almond oil, they’ve create a dual smoothing complex, sure to impress customers with unruly hair.
Riddells Creek Certified Organic Toothpaste is made in Australia and contains no added fluoride or mineral oil. It’s a suitable range for your vegan customers and offers two varieties – Sensitive and Whitening.
Just $10.95 RRP.
If you’d like to order any of the new products for spring 2017, you can easily add them to your online order here, or if your not yet a Unique account holder, get started here.
ALAFFIA IS A TOP-SELLING FAIR-TRADE BODY CARE BRAND, BUT THE BRANDS SUCCESS IS NOT SIMPLY MEASURED BY PROFIT.
Alaffia’s founder, Olowo-n’djo Tchala, has always measured Alaffia’s success by empowerment. Built solidly on the fair-trade vision and inspired by Olowo-n’djo’s mother (who represents the story and the struggle of most women in West Africa) Alaffia is an empowering brand. Below we’ve shared a powerful and touching open letter from Olowo-n’djo.
Good Morning Dear Friends of Alaffia,
It is my wish that this letter finds you and your family in good health. As many of you know, I have spent most of the past months travelling back and forth between the United States and Togo.
For me, the past year has been difficult.
Aside from managing the increasingly complex organisation that is Alaffia, I also lost the person I love and admire the most – my dear mother.
The loss of my mother has led me to look within myself and question my beliefs and dedication to the empowerment of the less fortunate.
After several months of travelling in Togo and witnessing the continuing suffering of humanity, I believe my mother would want me to stay on course regardless of the difficulties.
I must also attribute my renewed strength to the kindness and support many of you have given to me, and for this I am grateful to you.
Olowo-n’djo and “Ina”, his mother.
The main reason for my recent trips to Togo was to participate in the furnishing of outdated emergency rooms in the regional hospitals in Sokodé and Bassar.
Alaffia collaborated with Project C.U.R.E. to provide medical equipment and supplies to these two hospitals, one polyclinique and four village health clinics that altogether serve more than 1.5 million people.
During the ceremony at the Sokodé main hospital, I expressed during my speech that I had lost a sister at this hospital and she and my beloved mother could be alive today had this hospital had the appropriate equipment.
This was reason enough for Alaffia to undertake this project, without taking into account Alaffia’s belief that it is one’s duty to prevent the unnecessary deaths of the poor.
On Togolese national TV later, I was as asked why Alaffia is providing medical equipment. By this time I was frustrated, and answered that without the shea nuts coming from the Sokodé area, we would not have shea butter to sell in the United States, and the source of poverty is the history of one-way trade, where resources are taken out of Africa without adequate compensation.
I went on to say that my soul and existence cannot withstand seeing the suffering of the people and do nothing.
In a sense, what makes one a human being is our moral responsibility to community and a dedication of his or her life to the betterment of human kind.
Furthermore, because I know the Togolese government does not yet understand that a business can exist simply to do well, I explained that I am simply serving my purpose of existence and have no other ulterior motive.
Olowo-n’djo expressing frustration with Togo television reporter during donation of medical supplies, Sokode Togo.
Olowo-n’djo, US Ambassador David Gilmour, Togo Government and Health Officials and Alaffia Empowerment Managers at distribution ceremony for donated medical supplies in Sokodé, Togo, December 2016.
The second reason for my last travels to Togo was to begin construction of our new cooperative in the North. I’m pleased to inform you that this work was begun in the Djapak, a village in the mountainous area of northern Togo in the Moba
On more than one occasion, men from this region have told me women are inferior beings. This misguided belief has convinced me even more than ever that this is a place Alaffia must be. We cannot at once bring about gender equality, but I believe that with the economic impact that Alaffia will bring to women in Djapak in five years, as we have in other regions of Togo, men will no longer view women
The shea butter cooperative will employ 200 women by February 2018 and we will have fair trade contracts with over 3,800 shea nut collectors in the surrounding region, bringing much needed income every year to thousands of women and
Olowo-n’djo, US Ambassador David Gilmour, and the Prefet of Tandjouare lay the ceremonial first stone of the Alaffia Shea Butter Cooperative in Djapak, Togo.
Olowo-n’djo, Abide Awesso and Alaffia team locate best areas to drill for water for new Alaffia Shea Butter Cooperative in Djapak.
Moba woman (left) and children of Djapak (above), beneficiaries of the new Alaffia Shea Butter Cooperative and Shea Nut Collectives in Northern Togo.
In addition to these two new initiatives, Alaffia was also busy last year with our ongoing programs, including:
• Bicycles distributed to 382 new students.
• School supplies distributed to 9,142 students.
• Latrines built and installed at four high schools.
• 293 safe births funded.
• Eyeglasses distributed to 1,167 individuals.
• 4,450 fruit, fuel wood and forage trees planted.
• 406 school benches constructed and distributed.
There are many reasons why I share all that we accomplished last year in Togo, but most of all it is because I believe I owe you an explanation and report to you where funds from your Alaffia purchases are going.
However, I also do not want to underestimate the economic impact Alaffia has in our great state of Washington, where our team is over 115 strong, and where we purchase over 80% of our total packaging materials within a three state radius, instead of sourcing from overseas.
We believe the caring I have embodied for my motherland should be equal for America. After all, my wife and partner, Rose, is as American as it gets.
Now, our vision for this coming year is not only to continue our empowerment projects, but to do more.
This year, we have engaged in a partnership with the USAID to plant 500,000 trees in northern Togo over the next three years. Furthermore, we have pledged to distribute 1,600 bicycles to encourage girls in four different regions of Togo to stay in school, and we have doubled our team in Bassar so we can extend Alaffia’s quest to eradicate female genital mutilation in Togo to the Kara region.
To me there is no freedom or moral existence of human kind until women in our communities have the right to say no to their genitals being cut off.
In order to continue these just causes, we need to increase funding, and since the funding of these initiatives comes from the sales of our products, we have developed a series of line extensions to be available over the next three months, and to take our packaging to the next level.
As I have always said and believe, Africans do not need handouts, we simply need a place to trade our unique resources at a fair price so we can take our destiny in our own hands. And by formulating quality and ethical products, we are providing you something of equal exchange.
Onward, I will be returning to Togo in a couple weeks to continue the above objectives, and I will return to the United States in early April with four of our top managers, a team of women I call the “Alaffia Empowerment Council.”
We will then tour several major cities for the month of April so our Togolese leaders can thank our retailers first hand for the support and express gratitude to customers through community events at select stores.
Until next time, from my heart and on behalf of the many souls Alaffia has touched both here in the United States and in Togo because of your support, I humbly kneel down before you to present to you my gratitude. I wish you and your entire family a healthy and peaceful year.
Discover the products that Alaffia offer on our online store, or read more on the Alaffia story here or watch Olowo-n’djo’s TEDx talk here
ALAFFIA DIRECTLY HELPS WEST AFRICAN COMMUNITIES BECOME SELF-SUSTAINABLE BY FAIRLY TRADING INDIGENOUS RESOURCES.
Founder Olowo-n’djo Tchala was inspired to start Alaffia by his mother, who represents the story and the struggle of most women in West Africa. As an orphaned child, she was sent from Togo to neighbouring Benin, where she lived with a family as their indentured servant in exchange for food and a place to sleep. As a young woman, she returned to Togo, married and gave birth to eight children. While she never set foot in a school or had access to education, she thrived as a mother and entrepreneur, cultivating her own vegetable farm to feed her family and earn an income. Having experienced the challenges of providing for a family alongside his mother, Olowo-n’djo says,
“I understand what poverty is and how it is for a poor mother to raise a family in those situations. So, you see, I can’t know what I know is happening in Togo and not do anything.”
Whilst individual woman are empowered through their participation in Alaffia’s cooperatives, Olowo-n’djo strongly believes in empowering whole communities. Alaffia’s revenue directly funds community projects in central Togo to alleviate poverty and advance gender equality by tackling barriers such as exclusion from education, maternal deaths and environmental degradation.
In 1996, Olowo-n’djo met his now-wife Rose, who was visiting Kaboli as a Peace Corps volunteer to educate farmers on sustainable farming. Two years later he joined Rose in the United States, learnt English and, in 2004, earned a Bachelor of Science in Organisational Studies with emphasis on Global Economic Systems. His studies reinforced his suspicion that for Africa to rise out of poverty her people had to lead themselves, rather than rely on the World Bank or other instructions. In 2003 Olowo-n’djo decided the urgency of reducing poverty could not wait any longer, so he and Rose founded Alaffia.
The Alaffia range has expanded significantly during the last 12 years and now includes top-selling Everyday Shea, Everyday Coconut and African Black Soap.