Olowo-n’djo Tchala founded Alaffia with a desire to create positive change by empowering the community he grew up in and many others. The fair-trade beauty brand was inspired by his upbringing in the village of Kaboli in Togo, West Africa and represents beauty, equality, and empowerment.
We got a chance to chat with Mimi Edwards, Marketing Director at Alaffia about these core principles and how it all got started.
OTC: What is the mission of Alaffia?
Mimi Edwards: Our success is measured by empowerment. Empowerment Projects are Alaffia’s mission in action, funded by the sales of Alafﬁa products. Alaffia invests in our communities because it is our moral responsibility and to ensure African resources empower African communities. The goal is to alleviate poverty and encourage gender equality. Our Empowerment Projects include several Education-Based Projects, Maternal Health, FGM Eradication, Eyeglasses and Environmental Sustainability. All of Alafﬁa’s projects empower Togolese communities to provide their skills and knowledge to the rest of the world and rise out of poverty.
OTC: What was the inspiration for launching Alaffia and how did the brand get started?
Mimi: Our founder Olowo-n’djo Tchala has a truly remarkable journey. He grew up in the small village of Kaboli in Northern Togo, West Africa, dropping out of school in 6th grade to help support his family through farming and collecting shea nuts, he witnessed many injustices in his community- such as poverty and gender inequality – this is what compelled him to want to do more.
OTC: What are the collections under your umbrella?
Mimi: We carry an array of products from Facial, Babies & Kids, Hair and Body products
OTC: Who is your main audience and what sets your brand apart from the rest of the industry?
Mimi: Our audience consists of consumers looking for high quality products for the entire family. We carry an array of products from beauty, facial, kids and hair products.
OTC: Why is fair trade important to you?
Mimi: We are certified minority owned and operated, Good manufacturing practice certified, and of course our Fair-trade certification via ECOCERT, which is very stringent in their process & standard. We like to state we go beyond fair trade paying 3 to 4x above the fair wage.
OTC: The work that is being done at the Alaffia Foundation is wonderful and so necessary. Can you tell me about any recent projects?
Mimi: We are happy to announce that we are expanding our Maternal Care empowerment model to the US. Proceeds from sales of our Beautiful Curls collection will support our US Maternal Care project, called Beautiful Arrival- Here in the US minorities die during childbirth at a higher rate. We are partnering with two organizations which support marginalized communities- Equity Before Birth by providing support such as access to critical services and needs – Sista Midwife improves pregnancy & birthing outcomes through training & transparency.
OTC: What trends do you feel are most prevalent in the multicultural beauty industry right now?
Mimi: The trend right now is authentically loving your hair whatever the texture may be. Here at Alaffia we take the complexity out of choosing the right products for your hair needs. Our products offer the right balance of moisture for each hair type and its listed right on the product label – from cleansing & conditioning to choosing the right styler!
OTC: How can OTC stores benefit from having your products in their stores?
Mimi: The consumer is looking for products that actually perform based on their unique needs. The profit margin allows for the consultation of the consumer.
OTC: How do you share product knowledge with your customers and retailers?
Mimi: Regular merchandising visits educate store personnel as well as in store activations and social media educate our consumers.
OTC: What does the future hold for Alaffia? Are there any new projects or products you’re working on?
Mimi: We will continue to create high quality products for our consumers while impacting communities through our sales and empowerment projects.