Monday, August 8, 2011

OUT OF AFRICA



This product caught my eye some time ago because of its funky packaging, but it wasn’t until I purchased one of their shea butter tins, did I read up on the company. Out of Africa’s founders, Victor Lulla (a native New Yorker) and Gilles Adamon, from Benin met purely by chance at a Natural Products Expo. Victor, a manufacturer and distributor of organic skincare products was looking for an opportunity to expand his range whilst Gilles was seeking a distributor for his shea butter cosmetic products. The two men found that they shared not only an interest in natural products, but in social responsibility as well. A friendship ensued and Out of Africa was founded later that year. Lulla would purchase state of the art production equipment and raw materials, while Adamon’s team, in collaboration with a West African women’s cooperative, would supply locally-sourced organic unrefined shea butter. The company-owned factory in Benin now produces 200,000 bars of soap a month, along with an expanding array of other shea butter products.
In methods passed down from generations the traditional way of extracting shea butter is that the nuts are picked, cracked, grilled and pounded to extract the butter. It's then boiled in water until the fresh shea butter rises to the surface and then scooped into gourds and left to cool and set. This process is slow and labor intensive but is the least intrusive without requiring chemicals or synthetic agents to extract the butter - keeping it pure and unrefined (not processed). Each one of the Out of Africa products is based on this unrefined shea butter.
Not only does the company work hand-in-hand with several women’s cooperatives based in Benin to produce the shea butter and help provide job creation, they also a sponsor a project in Benin called 'School Children Unite', donating a portion of all its sales to the initiative which serves to help students in Benin to complete high school by providing scholarships and other forms of support. The Out of Africa skincare range includes organic shea butter soaps, hand and body washes, lotions, lip butters and organic unrefined shea butter tins. An amazing range of products all sustainably produced and fairly traded.



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