Thursday, May 30, 2013

6 Riders + 81 Days and Endless Miles + A [nearly] All Consuming Love of the Co-op Movement = Co-Cycle

Alaffia was recently introduced to Co-Cycle. A group who, in their own words, are “a dedicated collective, working to organize a fun, safe, challenging, and exhilarating adventure you will never forget.”

Last year's Co-cycle team.
Co-cycle is a student based group of biking buffs from a wide range of fields of study, who share a passion for all things co-op. Co-Cycle will be riding around the good ol’ U-S-of-A, organizing events and workshops in the cities they pass through, focusing on the importance of the co-op movement to our world, fueled by “hope, and inspiration towards a better world”, and, of course Alaffia products! When we were asked to sponsor the Olympia leg of their journey, we were excited to be able to supply them with products. We love being a part of the co-op movement and value the opportunity to partner with like minded individuals who are driven towards solving global issues, focused on social justice.  Armed with some Authentic Black Soap, Africa’s Secret Skin Creme, and a few other products, we can’t wait to see how their journey progresses! In each city they stop, they will be hosting two day events celebrating co-ops and teaching others about their importance. Check their itinerary; they may be stopping in your town!

One of the many events organized by Co-cycle for the 2012 tour.
Check out their website for updates on their progress of strengthening co-op ties, as well as developing skills in collaboration, organization, and last but not least, cycling, across the country.
Good luck on your journey, Co-Cycle. We’re excited to watch it unfold!

Riders on the 2012 Co-cycle tour.

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Bikes, bikes, BIKES!

Spring time is here, which means it’s BIKE DRIVE SEASON!

Alaffia is gearing up for a GREAT round of bike drives and we are excited to see all of you and COLLECT THOSE BIKES! Our Founder, Olowo-n’djo was down at the PDX, Hollywood Whole Foods Market for a ‘Meet the Founder’ and kick off our first bike drive of the season!  Seventeen bikes later, we are ready to keep the community empowerment rolling! (Thanks for the love PDX!)

Hollywood PDX Bike Drive

Bring us your adult sized bikes and we will distribute them to students in Togo. Education helps break down the cycle of poverty, and dedication to educating women is a key to empowerment.  

“Now that I have been given a bike, I am free. When I did not have a bike, I was always late to school. Now, I am free. I get up, I sweep the yard, I wash the dishes before leaving for school, but I am still on time.”  Tieka Lare- 2012 recipient of a Bicycles for Education donation.
 Every year, your faithfulness to donate helps us keep girls in school. (Bonus! You are able to easily recycle your old bike, WIN WIN!)

This past year, with your help, we were able to ship and distribute 500 bikes to young girls.

“Before, my daughter suffered a lot to go to school. She was forced to go hungry (because she could not return home during lunch). Sometimes I was able to find 25 francs [10 cents], and I gave it to her to buy lunch. And in the evening she returned very late, from 7-8 pm, because of the distance. Now, with her bike, everything has changed. She gets to school on time, and returns early after school. Thank you for this precious gift. Thank you very much.”  -Mother of Tieka Lare

 Look for us at our next two bike drives in June - We’d love to see you!
  • Saturday June 15th at the Proctor Metropolitan Market, Tacoma (12-3)

 2420 N Proctor St, Tacoma, WA 98406

  • Saturday June 22nd at First Alt. Co-op, Corvallis, Or. (11-3)

1007 SE 3rd St, Corvallis, OR 97333 

Click here for more information on our Bikes for Education Program and our other Alaffia Community Empowerment Projects. Click here to donate.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Breaking Ground in the Alaffia Garden Project!

Breaking Ground in the Alaffia Garden Project!

Springtime is in full swing, and people everywhere are diving into all things garden.
Botany has long been an integral part of life for Alaffia Founders Rose and Olowo-n’djo. The home garden at their sustainable farm provides not only food for their family, but also key ingredients for some of Alaffia’s favorite products.
Calendula growing in Rose's home garden, Spring 2012.

Last year’s move to a larger facility brought with it a new opportunity for the Alaffia crew. With a desire for Alaffia employees to share in the bounty of healthy, fresh produce; Rose and Olowo-n’djo secured access to a large, empty lot across the street for a company garden. A 150’ x 90’ portion of the garden will be used to grow produce for Alaffia families and will be maintained by Alaffia employees during paid time. The other half is the Alaffia herb garden and will provide ingredients for Alaffia products.

In early May the garden plan was announced, the ground was tilled, and gardening teams and shifts were assembled.

On Friday, May 17 we shut down our facility operations at noon and headed out to dig in! 

Rose discusses plans with Alaffia Garden Team Leaders

Time to go play in the dirt!

Olowo-n'djo welcomes employees to their new garden.
Rose distributes tools for the day.
Olowo-n'djo breaking ground, Togo style!

Lots of planning to execute.

Teams taking thier plots.

Sarah's Team

Enrique's Team

Jayme's Team

Congratulations to Jayme (2nd from left) who just closed on a house and can't wait to start her own garden! 

Jay's Team

Sheryl's Team

Sheryl, a natural Green Thumb and our Purchasing Inventory & Logistics Coordinator, said: “This is a great activity for teambuilding with Alaffia’s employees. I really appreciate the opportunity to get out in the sun and share in the Fall harvest!”

Steven, our new HR Director, promises he’s not going to use that thing on anyone, really - he was only kidding… (This was only his 2nd day on the job.)

When asked what he thought about the gardening project he said:

 "A. Never, ever choose the heaviest tool.

B. I can’t wait to show my HR buddies in New York what REAL HR people do! I’ve never seen such a labor-intensive employee activity before…But, no complaints here!"

Quite the contrary were the general remarks throughout the day. We can see why communities used to come together to plant their crops. It's hard work, made quick and fun!

The Barefoot Gardener

Jerry – an integral part of most any plans at Alaffia HQ.


Sylvia & Indigo - 2 peas in a pod.

Did these two really dig in? Indigo attests “I really DID work. My forehead even got warm!” 

Ready to grow!


A perfect day for planting. The rain held up until the very last minute.

Thank you Rose & Olowo-n’djo, for the Alaffia Garden!
We are very grateful for this unique and wonderful opportunity and look forward to the camaraderie, memories, and produce the Alaffia Garden will yield this growing season!

Stay tuned in coming months for more on the Alaffia Garden Project… 

Friday, May 17, 2013

Happy National Women's Health Week!

       Today is the close of National Women’s Health Week, a time to raise awareness of the importance of women’s health, and to be in community with one another. One of our goals at Alaffia is to promote the health of our communities of women in West Africa, here in the US, and around the world. 
       Awareness of what we put into our bodies, and how it affects our health is increasing, however, many of us don’t realize that what we put ON our bodies is just as important. The skin is our largest organ and effectively soaks whatever we put on it-directly INTO our bloodstream within thirty seconds.


       Man, that’s fast! Our skin is programmed to absorb, and there is no shut-off button. When we spread toxin- laden products on our skin, those are almost instantly assimilated into our bloodstream and pumped throughout our bodies. Safeguarding our internal health begins with our external health.
Here are some of the common, yet toxic- ingredients found in most skin care products that you will NEVER see on an Alaffia label:

Parabens:  These serve no purpose in a product beyond preserving the other ingredients. Parabens have the ability to mimic estrogen, an increase of which has been linked to cancer development in women.

Sulfates: Used as industrial grade cleaners and engine greasers, they are the lowest cost, most powerful cleaning products available-and the most common cleansing ingredient in skin care products.

Propelyne Glycol:  This is toxic to the immune system, and can cause acceleration of chemical absorption by the skin.

        Alaffia continues to provide products which are paraben, sulfate, and fragrance free. We don’t include harmful dyes in our products, because we value the health of women, and recognize the importance of safeguarding the welfare of all in our communities.
 In contrast, we use botanically derived ingredients that are beneficial to the skin and well-being  such as our hand-pressed and unrefined Neem Oil, which is valued for its high level of anti-oxidant and anti-microbial properties. Rich in fatty acids, unrefined Neem oil is an excellent moisturizer, effective for treating skin conditions and dryness.

       All of our products are made by hand in small batches with whole ingredients sourced sustainably.  We will never place financial interest above public health, and we will remain committed to the empowerment of women worldwide, through equality, education, and HEALTH.

Alaffia classic Skin Recovery Set - Unrefiined Neem Oil and Hand-Crafted Black Soap

Sources drawn from:

Friday, May 10, 2013

World Fair Trade Day - Every Day!

World Fair Trade Day, Every Day!

               In recognition of World Fair Trade Day, we at Alaffia join over 70 nations around the world to reflect and recognize the importance of this global movement. We celebrate fair trade and the opportunity it provides as we focus on the shared goal of empowering individuals and alleviating poverty in global communities around the world. In our own co-ops, fair trade has meant the alleviation of poverty through the empowerment of our community of producers. Our cooperative members are paid over four times the market value for their product, and we are now the largest privately owned employer in Togo, giving women the opportunity to provide for their families and giving their children the opportunity of an education. In addition to fair trade wages, our cooperative members receive health care, and one month paid vacation each year.
"Today the buying process is organized and everyone gets their whole payment at once. I thank you and I plead you to continue your support in our village in order to reduce poverty." -Amama Amadou, president of the Bowouda Shea Nut Collective.

 World Fair Trade day is a reminder of how connected we are, and how great a difference we can make through simple, daily choices. Choices like supporting the farmers of Divine Chocolate; the only fair trade chocolate company owned by its farmers. Not only are these farmers receiving a fair wage and money to invest back into their communities, but they also have a share in the company, and perhaps most importantly, an active voice in the cocoa industry which remains one of the top ranked for exploitative wages and child labor. (The divine farmers are on a United States tour right now and they may be visiting a city near you! Fair trade gives us the opportunity to be pioneers for change in an ever globalizing climate. The basic human rights of health, equality, and education can become a reality through the support of true fair trade.

The happy faces of a few of Alaffia's Bikes for Education recipients. Girls who are provided a bike are able to reverse a 94% dropout rate to a 98% retention rate.
Above all, World Fair Trade Day is a day filled with gratitude for all of you who support us and give us the opportunity to go BEYOND Fair Trade. Because you stand with our mission, our co-ops now support over 500 women and their families. This year 1,000 mothers and babies will receive pre and post natal care through our Maternal Health Program. At least 600 Togolese students will have transportation to school this year, and 10,000 trees will be planted to combat deforestation. We could not accomplish this alone. The daily choices we all make can positively impact lives around the world. Perhaps the biggest takeaway of this celebration of fair trade is the recognition of how interconnected we really are, and the reality that we need an international community in order to thrive.

In reality, every day is World Fair Trade day. Alaffia!