Friday, December 27, 2013

New Year's Eve Traditions

2014 is almost here, and that means it’s time to celebrate. In America that usually means spending time with family at home, going out with friends, or catching up on sleep.  In Togo, however, they bring in the New Year a bit differently.

Coming together as a village is an important part of celebrating
New Year’s Eve in Togo doesn’t have the same fanfare as it does in many countries; New Year’s Day is when the celebrations start. From the city to the farm, families gather to cook a special meal. Instead of simply eating as a family, everyone ventures out, and goes house to house sharing the celebratory meal they have prepared. Family, friends, and neighbors come together as a community to bring in the 2014, to give thanks to each other, and to rekindle the special relationships that strengthen society.

After eating, families go to open-air bars for drinks and brochettes, similar to a kebab in the States, to listen to music and dance, and to wish each other either Bonne Année (French) or, in Olowo-n’djo’s home town, “Odun’kou-n’do” for a Happy New Year.

Traditional Togolese Brochettes 
Family, food, music, and coming together to welcome in a New Year, as in Togo and many other countries, shows that,culturally, the world isn't that different.

From us to you, “Odun’kou-n’do!”

Friday, December 20, 2013

What is in a symbol?

Alaffia recently introduced a brand new logo that represents what we are working to achieve as a company. Our logo contains three elements: the Eban symbol, Alaffia, and the words equality, empowerment, and beauty. The Eban symbol is a West African adinkra symbol representing protection, security, and love. Alaffia is a traditional central Togo greeting meaning peace, health, and well-being. The words equality, empowerment, and beauty are what we strive to bring to both our customers and communities across the globe. Empowerment through our various community projects, equality through fair trade practices, and beauty to our customers from  sustainable skin care products.

Rest assured anytime you purchase a product with the Alaffia logo, you are joining an organization committed to alleviating poverty and empowering communities. However, we are more than a company, we are a movement, led by our customers, and by communities in West Africa striving to create a better future. Thank you for your continued support toward working to achieve what we all know is possible, universal human dignity.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Local Outreach

Olowo-n’djo and Rose started Alaffia in 2003 as a way to correct an imbalance they saw in the world. Botanical Ingredients, which Olowo-n’djo helped harvest as a child, were undervalued; women that had a rich knowledge of the local flora were not being paid a fair wage; and communities in need were lacking a way to end the continuous cycle of poverty. However, they also understood empowerment isn’t simply an African issue; it’s a global issue.
Alaffia seeks to empower more than just communities in West Africa, we also support communities in the United States. Our mission to empower people starts with fair trade business practices and includes a commitment to community empowerment projects.
Our commitment to fair trade focuses on supporting local businesses, and we try to work with as many businesses within the community of Olympia as we can.  In instances when that’s not possible, we try to maintain a minimum three state radius for procuring resources. This has translated to over 90% of our packaging coming from domestic sources instead of China - where a lack of standards is creating a human rights and environmental tragedy. Because we put an emphasis on buying locally and domestically, we are lowering our environmental footprint and creating  financial strength in the community we reside.

Alaffia is also committed to supporting local charitable organizations that support and empower the underprivileged. We have been long-time supporters of The Other Bank and SafePlace Olympia. These organizations were founded with the goal of supporting abused women and children.   Recently we formed a new partnership with the Boys and Girls Club of Thurston County, and were able to donate 25 bicycles to underprivileged kids for the holidays. These alliances are a part of our growing commitment to all communities, and the recognition that empowerment everywhere can make an impact. Alaffia will continue to support local businesses and create meaningful partnerships that impact societies in both the United States and West Africa. Alleviating poverty and empowering communities is a global issue and Alaffia is committed to lending a helping hand.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Alaffia Facebook Giveway #Fillthebasket

Alaffia is celebrating the holiday season with a fair trade gift basket giveaway.
The gift basket will contain 5 pre-selected items and 7 items voted on by you, our Facebook friends.
Each day for the next seven days two items will appear that can be voted on via comments. Pick the product you enjoy most and the winning product will be included in the final gift basket.
The winner of the basket will be drawn December 18th.  Three additional runner-ups will also be drawn to win a set of 4 new limited-run Alaffia Eban buttons.

Official Rules:

  •          Must be 18 years or older and provide a shipping address within the United States.
  •         Contest runs from December 11th, 2013 1:00 PM PST - December 18th, 2013 1:00 PM PST.
  •          Every comment on a post related to the giveaway is an entry into the drawing for the previous stated giveaway.  Max of one entry per post (one comment).
  •          Posts open to voting on products will be posted once per day (December 11th, 2013 – December 17th, 2013) at 1:00 PM. Voting will remain on each post until the end of the voting period (December 18th, 2013 at 1:00 PM PST).
  •          Names of those who comment on voting posts will have their names placed in a pool of names. Winners will be selected at random. Participants may only win once.
  •          Winners will be contacted via Facebook message within 24 hours of the end of the contest.  The winners will have 24 hours to respond to being notified of winning.  If no response is received within 24 hours, a back-up winner will be selected, and will be notified.  The same process applicable to the original winner will apply to all back-up winners.
  •         There will be one winner selected for the basket and Alaffia product. There will be three winners drawn to win 4 – Alaffia Eban buttons.
  •         The 5 pre-selected items include: 1 – 2 oz. Africa’s Secret, 1 – Red Palm Lip Balm, 1 – Shea & Vanilla Mocha Lotion, 1 – Dead Sea Bar Soap, 1 – 5 oz. Red Palm Oil.
  •          The 7 voted on items include: EveryDay Coconut Body Lotion vs. EveryDay Shea Body Lotion Unscented, 16 oz. African Black Soap Mint vs. 16 oz. African Black Soap Tangerine Citrus, EveryDay Shea Foaming Hand Soap Vanilla Mint vs. EveryDay Shea Foaming Hand Soap Lavender, EveryDay Coconut Shampoo vs. EveryDay Shea Shampoo Vanilla Mint, EveryDay Coconut Conditioner vs. EveryDay Shea Conditioner Lavender, Babies & Up EveryDay Shea Bubble Calming Lemon-Lavender vs. Babies & Up EveryDay Shea Bubble Bath Comforting Eucalyptus-Mint, EveryDay Shea Fair Trade Shea Butter Tangerine Citrus vs. EveryDay Shea Fair Trade Shea Butter Passionfruit.
  •          All items will be placed in an Alaffia Market Mini Basket.
  •          Prizes will be shipped within 24 hours of receiving winner’s address.
  •          Current Alaffia employees and family members are ineligible to win.
  •          This promotion is in no way affiliated with Facebook and Facebook is not liable there above stated giveaway

Friday, December 6, 2013

Human Rights and Dignity

On Tuesday, December 10th Alaffia will celebrate Human Rights. Leading up to this day the world has been taking a stand against gender violence in a variety of ways including wearing the color orange. Across Facebook and Twitter people have been using #iwearorangebecause , #16days, or #orangeurworld to tell their friends, and anyone listening, that violence against women has become an epidemic across the world that must be stopped.  Alaffia has, and always will, align itself and support people and organizations who champion the empowerment and equality of women worldwide.

The mission to empower women is so fundamental to Alaffia that it is ingrained in to the company’s business model.  Alaffia believes that, as a company and community, it is possible to eliminate the barriers to success in the lives of those who are less fortunate, and give them the dignity they inherently deserve by providing education, giving gainful employment, and providing maternal support.  Alaffia’s bicycles for education program has taken a dropout rate of 90% and reversed it to a 95% graduation rate among participants.  Alaffia’s Co-ops in Togo provide full-time work to over 500 women and thousands of jobs to women seasonally.  Alaffia’s maternal health program has saved the lives of hundreds of women and babies by providing comprehensive care through the entire gestational process.  These three programs have been and will always be a part of Alaffia’s mission to give dignity to all people.

By working together we can create a world where each person is valued for their individual uniqueness. Alaffia and Olowo-n’djo have worked towards this for the past ten years, and -while it may be a long journey- we are committed to dedicating our lives to the fulfillment of this ideal.