Friday, June 28, 2013


Last Friday the team from Whole Foods Market PDX Hollywood (minus a couple…we missed you!) made the trek up to Alaffia HQ for their team build. We kicked off the good times with a tour of the warehouse, led by Olowo-n’djo Tchala, with cameo appearances from a few others on the Alaffia team.
The Whole Foods Hollywood team from left to right: Jess, Izzy, Justeen, Olowo-n'djo, Lisa, Manda, and Jo.

The team getting hair-net fancy for their date with the warehouse.

 The group wove their way through the warehouse, making stops at the shipping area (where national distribution magic happens), receiving docks (the landing place for all things ‘raw ingredient’  the moment it arrives here direct from our co-ops in Togo. Regulars here are stacks of red palm oil stretching nearly to the ceiling, and pallets loaded with blocks of unrefined Shea.), the gym and basketball court (Three cheers for employee wellness!), the packaging area (If employee wellness was exciting, how much better is completely recyclable packaging, free of toxins, that’s locally sourced?)
Next up was the Alaffia kitchen. And just what was on the menu? A fresh batch of our newest addition to the Everyday Coconut family, the facial care line.
Jo and Manda checking our raw Black Soap.
While Olowo-n'djo explains the traditional process of making it.

Scoping out some unrefined Kpangan and Cocoa butter.

 The warehouse tour concluded with a stroll through our stock aisles, filled with products from all our lines, Beautiful Curls to Africa’s Secret, and brimming with baskets.  
The day at the office wrapped up in the conference room where Olowo-n’djo provided a presentation on Alaffia’s history, how far we’ve come and where we’re headed. Rose provided training on the new EDC face care line, and provided insight on product formulation.
The night was topped off with a trip to the Tchala farm, where a bounty of traditional Togolese fare was prepared by none other than Olowo-n’djo and Rose themselves, with the star ingredient: Red Palm Oil.

Manda and Justeen got serious about the kabob process.

Bon Apetite!

Thanks to the Hollywood team for joining with us in community last week. We enjoyed our time with you! And congratulations Lisa, on the soon to be little one!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Sometimes it really does take a village.

World Environment Day was last week, which has kept (you guessed it) the environment fresh on our minds. Environmental stewardship can seem daunting… between climate change, deforestation, and desertification; at times it appears the effort needed is too great to really affect change.

Street scene in Togo.
             Then we found out about this village in Northern Togo, Ando-Kpomey. In response to a devastating forest fire in 1973, the community banded together to protect the forest around their community from destructive fires, typically set by hunters flushing out game. Their protected area of green-belt has since grown to over 100 hectares. Sustainability is at the core of their collective planning to ensure the forest remains intact, as well as useful for the community. The success of the collective has spurred on Global attention. Ando-Kpomey received the 2012 Equator Prize (link) and is now considered a best practice model to be replicated by other communities in the region of West Africa.

Members of the Ando-Kpomey Collective.
                This locally driven, collective action on a small, yet expanding scale is what gives us hope that the rejuvenation of our planet is possible. This region of West Africa experiences some of the highest levels of forest loss in the world, which contributes to desertification of land and changes in rainfall patterns, which in turn, greatly affects the lives of subsistence farmers and habitat in rural Togo.

Alaffia plants 6,ooo saplings a year in order to combat deforestation in Togo.
Alaffia has been working against widespread environmental degradation with our Reforestation Project, and we are encouraged by the progress of this collective of individuals striving to preserve their region. It is important for us to recognize, as a global community, the communities around the world that are banding together and using their indigenous knowledge to better their environment. We all have a chance to make a difference in our world, through our direct action, as well as through spreading awareness of the actions of others.

The Alaffia nursery, filled with fruit and forage trees, ready to be planted.

Alaffia's Reforestation Project focuses on women farmers, who studies have shown are more likely to give saplings the extra care they require in the first years of planting. 

By planting fruit trees, not only are we impacting deforestation, but also food security, a concern of so many on the African continent.

We are proud of the grass roots efforts of our fellow Togolese activists. Keep on promoting environmental stability, and we will keep following your progress.


Thursday, June 6, 2013

First (annual?) Marshmallow Games!

First Thursday has rolled around again, and the Alaffia team headed out to the warehouse gym for the Olympic Games of Marshmallow Sports (Marshmallow sports are ABSOLUTELY a thing.)

Shipping, production, and office staff were divided up into seven teams, and with that, the madness began! 
The Line-up of competitors.

 Match #1:
 This round found everyone getting their feet wet (or should we say hands sticky?) with a quick bout of line-up and toss (this is the technical name for lining up and tossing marshmallows, in case you aren’t familiar with the sport).

Some SERIOUS shots were made...

While some not-so-serious faces lined the side-lines.

Match #2:
Round two got real serious, real quick. Form is EVERYTHING when shooting hoops with air puffed sugar. 
Curtis, getting serious.
Laura's stellar form.

Match #3:
This was the hands on, down and dirty match; thirty seconds to shred a marshmallow into as many pieces as humanly possible. Winner gains the respect of their team, and an irremovable sticky residue for days. (All for the game!)
Brave teammates, shredding like pros.

Match #4:
Gut check time. This was the final round, the clincher for the winning team (who reportedly had a whopping TWENTY-SIX COUNT volley! Tre impressive.) All seven teams circled up and had an intense two minutes of marshmallow volley.
Sylvia was not messing around.

Sam was dressed for sporty success; shades AND hat to ward off the warehouse glare.

The winning team. In action. Volley pros.

Points were tallied, and while everyone refueled from the strenuous activities and soaked up some sun, the winning team was announced. Russell’s team took first! (No surprise there, he seems to be on Lady Luck’s side every time First Thursday rolls around.)
The walk of victory

A few of the days champions, enjoying their spoils.

 Until the next time!