From making Shea Butter in a mobile home with his two daughters to owning one of the most successful fair trade beauty companies, Olowo-n’djo T’chala is truly the story of successful entrepreneurship. T’chala grew up in Northern Togo in a farming community where he learned the importance of sustainability as a young age. He was inspired by his mother, who though she didn’t have a formal education, had a wealth of knowledge. “I wanted to create a voice for women like my mother. I wanted to demonstrate to the world that our traditional knowledge, skills and boundaries are valuable.” With West African values, and a lot of perseverance, Alaffia was born.
This Black-owned, fair trade beauty brand brings handmade Shea Butter from West Africa into the mainstream beauty market with their wide range of products.
It’s no secret that Shea Butter is one of the most versatile and ancient ingredients in the beauty industry. The ingredient originated in West Africa and has made its way around the world through various products and brands. Its ability to lock in moisture makes it great for dry skin, hair and everything in between. The only issue with using Shea Butter is that sometimes it’s hard to get your hands on the real thing. Many products that incorporate Shea Butter aren’t using real handmade African Shea Butter, making for an inauthentic experience.
With products such as body butter, shampoo, bubble bath soap and even vegan options, there is something from Alaffia for everyone.
In its beginnings, Alaffia was truly homemade. “We originally wanted to make Shea Butter and sell it to skincare brands but we quickly discovered that companies didn’t want to pay fair prices”, T’chala told EBONY. From there he learned to make Shea Butter-based products on his own. Today the brand employs a network of about 14,000 women in West Africa who produce the raw Shea Butter that is included in all Alaffia’s products. “It’s important to me that Africans govern their own economy and benefit from our own knowledge and resources,” T’chala told EBONY.
The profits from the brand go back to T’chala’s hometown of Togo to fund initiatives like education, maternal health, and environmental sustainability. “This all goes back to reducing poverty and gender inequality in West Africa and we’re doing that through creating jobs that make sense for our communities,” T’chala told EBONY.
In addition to the social good aspect of this brand, Alaffia makes products that stand on their own when it comes to effectiveness. The brand even won an Allure Best in Beauty Award for their Everyday Shea Bubble Bath. All of the ingredients in every product including coconut oil, moringa oil and of course Shea Butter are natural and handmade using traditional African methods.
While Shea Butter is best known for being a great skin and hair moisturizer, Alaffia has found a way to transfer the benefits of Shea Butter into all their products. In a time where buying Black-owned is still at an all time high and people are rethinking their consumption practices, Alaffia provides clean, uncompromised, ethical and socially conscious products. Shopping this brand also means supporting ideals and initiatives, of equity, unity and prosperity for the Black community both in America and Africa. What’s not to love?