For The Body Shop, their story with shea butter began back in the early 90’s, when Dame Anita Roddick visited a community in Northen Ghana. She was on a search for natural, ethical products she could use in her skincare products ranges at The Body Shop.
I was lucky to hear the story first hand from Madame Fati Paul. Anita’s life long friend and business partner at the body shop at home conference back in February 2020.
There is a She in every Shea
Anita came upon a community of women in Tungteiya. These women were sat in a circle mixing a substance like nothing she had ever seen before. She asked what they were doing. Madame Fati of the women’s tribe explained to Anita that these women were making shea butter. Intrigued Anita asked if she could join in and have a go. Madame Fati took Anita under her wing and showed her how to mix the shea in to a butter.
Mother natures protector
Madame Fati explained how the shea butter protects their skin from the harsh abrasive storms from the Sahara desert. It acts like a barrier to protects skin from the harsh elements, leaving their skin it deeply moisturised and supple. Because of this, the women named the shea tree “The tree of life” and the butter itself “Gold”. All the women had the most beautiful soft and nourished skin because of the process of mixing the shea butter and the end product itself.
For the love of shea
Anita fell in love with the women and their shea. She agreed a fair price to take 5kg’s home with her to test in her products in her laboratory. When testing Anita found it to be such a rich and moisturising component which worked incredibly well in her products. Anita then reached out to the women and asked for a further 5 tonnes! Anita offered to pay a fair price for the shea butter and to also pay a premium on top to enable the community to build much needed resources such as medical centres, schools and pumps for clean running water. The villages continue to develop and grow to this day, providing better living conditions as a result of this partnership.
The power of shea
The Tongayian Women’s Shea Butter Association was setup. To this day 640 women from 11 villages work at the association to handcraft 390 tons of shea butter for The Body Shop every year. These woman each use their expert 18-stage process lovingly passed down the generations from mother to daughter to each expertly produce shea butter in 25kg batches ensuring the highest quality in 24 hours.
Before the partnership between The Body Shop at the Tongtayian women’s tribe, the women didn’t have a say in the running of their own homes or a voice in the community. These women now have a say in the negotiations on pricing of the Shea butter and have the freedom to be able to make their own choices and voice their own opinions. These strong, powerful women now have a say in the villages and how they run.
More on the shea butter story in this video.
Fancy making your own shea butter bath melts? check out my blog: DIY Bath Melts & Lip Scrub
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