I am all about a good and worthy cause, especially when it's within our own community. Sisters helping sisters. Marcus Garvey once said, "there is no humanity before that which starts with yourself".
Shea Yeleen is a social enterprise dedicated to empowering women in West Africa and the United States through the production, sale and use of Shea Butter products (one of my favorite products!). Coconut + Concrete chatted with Rahama Wright, who started the brand which is now available online and in Whole Foods.
Congratulations on your partnership with Whole Foods, that's major! How did Shea Yeleen first begin?
I started Shea Yeleen after serving in the Peace Corps. During my time volunteering at a community health center, I noticed the financial limitations of many women who couldn't afford medicine. I began to research income-generating activities for women and learned about Shea Butter and its connection to the lives of women in the Sahel region of Africa. After learning the disconnect between traditional women, Shea Butter producers and the global marketplace, I decided to create Shea Yeleen with two specific goals: 1. Assist women to generate living wages from their labor 2. Ensure customers are getting the highest quality Shea Butter products for their body care needs.
I love how your company is working in partnership with women in Ghana. How has this affected the community there?
There are so many definitions of empowerment. The definition I use for my business model is creating living wages for women. I believe this is important because when women have access to more income and are financially secure the entire community and families change for the better. Shea Yeleen accomplishes this goal by paying Shea Butter producers in Ghana five times their country's minimum wage. This means going from making less than $2/day to $10/day. As an example, the cost of living to send a child to school cost about $3/month, access to a health insurance card costs $15/year, average transportation costs .50/day.
WOW!! That is truly amazing. Do you travel to Ghana often? If so, what is something a visitor MUST do or see while there?
I travel to Ghana 2 - 4 times. For anyone going to Ghana, you must travel outside Accra the capital and head to Cape Coast to visit the slave castles. It is about a three-hour drive from Accra. Trying local foods is a must. My favorites are fufu with a light soup, rice and beans served in a banana leaf with plantains, and rice with okra stew. I'm getting so hungry thinking about these.
Sounds so GOOOOOD. Now, I'm sure there are several but what is Shea Yeleen's one MUST HAVE item?
Our top seller is our lavender honeysuckle shea butter cream, which is sold on our website and in select Whole Foods Markets. However, my personal favorite is the unscented shea butter balm. This is shea butter in its purest form and is excellent for dry skin. I use it daily.
We also recently launched a spa line with MGM Resorts and the top seller is the Bourbon Citrus Body Cream. It is heaven in a jar!
It sounds heavenly too!! And last but not least do you have any plans to expand or open up a store?
No plans to create a storefront. But, our expansion plans include securing more retail accounts, especially with our spa line. I see a lot of opportunity working with boutique spas.
Sooooo exciting!!! Many great things are on the horizon for Rahama and Shea Yeleen. Make sure you check out the brand online and in your nearest Whole Foods. Stay tuned here too because we'll also be working in partnership with this amazing brand. Giveaway coming soon, make sure you're following us on Instagram @coconutandconcrete.
Major thanks to Rahama and Shea Yeleen for taking the time out for us!