This post is the conclusion to a previous post. Check it out here.
In Olympia WA, Alaffia is a small company that receives raw ingredients from their Togo women’s cooperative, then packages, labels and ships finished products for sale to retailers in the US. Alaffia is proud to provide gainful, rigorous employment to about 50 employees in Olympia. Still, the profits from the company mainly make their way back to Togo, to invest in existing and new programs to support Alaffia’s pledge.
After meeting Olowo-n’djo for the third time, I find myself tempted to sell all my earthly possessions and move to Olympia where I would sleep on his family’s doorstep until he set me to work doing some magnificent, if not difficult, task to aid in the Alaffia pledge.
But then again, I know that I have a role in the Alaffia pledge here at MOMs.
My role is to help educate and inspire our customers to purchase the items that support gender equality and community empowerment.
What I’ve come to realize in the days since Olowo-n’djo‘s most recent visit is that I can make a pledge myself. As an average user of body care products, I estimate that I spend about $60-$75 per month on hand soap, body wash, bar soap, shampoo and conditioner, and body lotion for me and my husband. If I pledge to purchase only Alaffia products (including Alaffia’s Everyday Shea or Everyday Coconut) to fulfill these needs, I’ll be supporting the hard-working women of Alaffia’s cooperative and the Alaffia programs that are succeeding in boosting opportunities and gender equality in Togo.
The more successful Olowo-n’djo, Rose and the women’s cooperatives are, the more likely other groups will be able to use a similar model to improve their own impoverished communities.
On a selfish note, the truly cool thing about my Alaffia pledge is that I don’t have to sacrifice anything. The Alaffia and Everyday Shea products are no more expensive than the products I normally purchase for these purposes. The products smell beautiful without artificial perfumes, thanks to their rich botanical ingredients. And the products work great: the sudsy moisturizing washes and shampoos; and creamy, buttery conditioners and lotions certainly are top picks amongst their peers.
To pledge something like this means I have to make a concerted effort, though, to focus my rather unwieldy body care-purchasing habits to this line; forsaking many others, no matter the coupons, or nifty little two-for-one bargains that may adorn displays of other brands. [Honestly, I don’t buy dollar deals on junk products anyway.]
My pledge isn’t about giving money away.
And it’s not about quitting my job and devoting my life to serving a distant community (although I certainly admire either of these sacrifices). Instead, it’s about boosting the value of the products the artisan women in Togo make, which is immeasurable in its effect, thanks to Olowo-n’djo and Rose, and their Alaffia pledge.
Check out Alaffia at MOMs, or a number of other retailers, or visit their website for mail order.
All photos used are either from Alaffia’s various sites, or were supplied by MOMs employees, like Kathleen in the Timonium store.
Alyssa works at multiple MOMs locations.