Whole Story

The Official Whole Foods Market® Blog

Alaffia: Fostering a Body of People

By Dark Rye, February 8, 2014  |  Meet the Blogger  |  More Posts by Dark Rye

Due to the many requests for the ingredients of Alaffia's GOOD soaps, we have the ingredients lists available to download (PDF).

Dark Rye is an online magazine from Whole Foods Market that explores the realms of food, health, sustainability, design, technology and social enterprise. Get fresh insight from our mixtape of stories, recipes, creative projects and people — pioneers of unconventional who explore the edges of a creative life.

In this issue, Body, Dark Rye’s body of work explores the body through the lenses of exercise, grief, diet, suffering, yoga, death and more.

Feed yourself with this featured profile of Olowo-n’djo Tchala founder of Alaffia body care.

Fostering a Body of People

We get it. It’s your body and caring for your body cares for the self, your community and the vast interconnectedness of all phenomena. But if you’re using five or six different face creams, hair sprays, and cleansers that’s four or five too many because shea butter has been doing it all forever. Used for hair and skin care for centuries in Africa (and by Cleopatra!), shea butter has been Alaffia’s means of mobilizing Africa’s resources and its rich traditional knowledge into the global economy.

Founded in Love

In 1996, Rose Hyde of rural Washington State was posted to Olowo-n’djo Tchala’s hometown of Kambolé, Togo, as a sustainable farming educator with the Peace Corps. His brother moved her furniture — and drawn by the tales of this curious new stranger in the neighborhood, he came over one day to talk.

Says Olowo-n’djo: “I never left.”

For Olowo-n’djo, meeting Rose was a spark. He went with her to the United States and learned English. From there, he went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in Organizational Studies with emphasis on Global Economic Systems from the University of California, Davis — quite the mouthful for anyone, let alone an ESL kid who had dropped out of school in grade six.

In 2003, Olowo-n’djo and Rose began a handcrafted shea butter co-op for women in Togo as a way of fundraising for community projects like setting up maternal health programs, giving bicycles out to help kids get to (and stay in) school, and planting trees. What began with 40 shea butter harvesters now brings together more than 500 women — a company that reconciles moral goals and a hunger for social change with soft skin and smart selling.

Read more about their start, their mission and the future they see for their girls in this interview with Rose and Olowo-n’djo on Dark Rye.

Shea Butter: History and Process

Shea butter has been used for centuries on the African continent and is completely enmeshed within the history and culture of the West African wooded savanna.

Shea butter is mentioned in almost all African historical documents, including a reference as early as Cleopatra’s Egypt, which mentions caravans bearing clay jars of shea butter for cosmetic use. Funeral beds of kings were carved in wood of old shea trees, and shea butter has always been a staple of African pharmacology.

Learn more about the traditional uses of shea and scroll through a pictorial overview of how wild shea nuts become shea butter for Alaffia products.

Has love or tradition shaped your life’s body of work? Do share in the comments below.

Like what you’ve seen here? Subscribe to Dark Rye and we’ll let you know when new issues are available. And there’s more: tumblr | vimeo | iTunes.

Category: Videos, Whole Body




Donna Gilbert says ...
I love Alaffia Black Soap. One product for soap, shampoo and shaving cream = awesome!!
02/12/2014 2:57:47 PM CST
Tanya Lamarr Jackman says ...
I use Shea Butter from West Africa and I do love it. I will try this product as well. It has such healing aspects for the skin. I love this story.
02/13/2014 4:04:06 PM CST
Lara says ...
Hello - I love this and just bought some of the Good Soap created by Alaffia exclusively for Whole Foods. However, ingredients are not listed. Can you please advise on the ingredients?
03/03/2014 4:55:48 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@LARA - I don't have an exact ingredient list so I would suggest reaching out to Alaffia directly to see if they can provide one for you. You can find their contact info at http://www.alaffia.com/store/pc/contact.asp.
03/04/2014 3:45:53 PM CST
Amy says ...
Very happy to heard that this product Shea butter from this Organisation ALAFFIA , is part of my Original Country and very proud of people of Kambole region. From now going I would buy and continuously using this product . Good job Rose and my Fellow brother. !! Courage , I would recommend it to everyone . Amy.
03/07/2014 8:53:24 PM CST
Roh says ...
I've had the pleasure of using your Good Soap line in the Sunshine and Coconut scented. The Sunshine scent is intoxicating and is noticeably one of the best sellers. I brought the last two bars on the shelf. My skin is sooo soft, I love it!!! I noticed a huge change in my skin texture within one week of use. I highly recommend this soap. I am a fan and will continue to buy this soap.
03/25/2014 10:52:57 AM CDT
Lynne says ...
I was in whole foods in Franklin, TN today and came upon a display of your brand "good soap." Since there were no ingredients listed I asked the store manager. She did not know and called the department specialist in...and she didn't know either. Your soap look inviting, but I prefer to know what's in a product before I purchase. Could you provide a list ingredients in your 'good soap' ? Thank you~
04/06/2014 8:36:14 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@LYNNE - Since we don't make this product, I would suggest reaching out to Alaffia directly. You can reach out to them on their website at http://www.alaffia.com/store/pc/contact.asp.
04/07/2014 2:29:46 PM CDT
Rae says ...
Good Soap is absolutely awesome. especially sunshine and coconut. Please continue to sell at the whole Foods in Hillcrest. I am in Love!
04/25/2014 1:08:48 AM CDT
Karla T says ...
Please add me to the list of fans for Good Soap. I have very dry skin... Especially in the winter time. I would use a body wash and then drown my skin in lotion everyday. This soap has changed the feel and moisture level of my skin. It is absolutely amazing. I have used rose and sunshine. With sunshine being my favorite scent of the two. And now I'm happy to know the story behind the product which makes purchasing the soap that much better. Highly recommend Good Soap.
05/08/2014 12:57:06 AM CDT
Michelle says ...
I have sensitive skin so I reached out to Alaffia for an ingredient list prior to purchasing. Once I received the list, I purchased a few bars. I love this soap and recently picked up a new scent Fresh Mint.
06/07/2014 4:10:41 PM CDT
Lisa says ...
Suggestion for Whole Foods Company. You would sell a lot more Alaffia "Good Soap" if you would ask Alaffia to list the ingredients somewhere on the display. A lot of customers read ingredient lists and will not buy any toiletries without all the ingredients listed. Thank you for considering customer feedback.
06/19/2014 5:49:57 PM CDT
Monica says ...
I also wondered about the soap ingredients,and no offense,but Nikki,the moderator,should have contacted Alaffia and listed the ingredients online.That is what is known as good customer service.
07/22/2014 3:49:10 PM CDT
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@MONICA - Thanks for the feedback. As I mentioned, we do not manufacture this product so it's always best to contact the vendor directly when looking for a specific ingredient list. Good Soap is a brand new product from Alaffia so they do not have the ingredients listed online. If you ever have a question about a WFM product that we manufacture, happy to help!
07/22/2014 4:20:09 PM CDT
Bobbi says ...
Considering you are touting the Good Soap as a Whole Foods Exclusive it seems to me you should be able to list the ingredients. After all you are promoting a healthy lifestyle and most of us that shop there search for the ingredients in products before using them. What may be beneficial to one person may not be to another. I love the idea that this product helps support the Whole Planet Foundation and uses Fair Trade Shea Butter which helps to empower a otherwise much depressed lifestyle in Togo and is a good selling feature, however, most of us need to know what is in the product for our own well being. Yes, I know we have a choice to not buy it, but give us the reasons to buy and help others in the process. It is a very generous size bar for the price and I would love to try it.....if only.......I knew what was in it. Thanks for giving me the chance to voice my opinion.
09/27/2014 2:53:16 PM CDT
Karina says ...
I love this soap.. I got the coconut scented one.. but was sad when I found out there was goat milk powder on the ingredients list... I am a vegan and I don't see why its necessary to put animal milk in my soap??
10/09/2014 10:04:27 AM CDT
Anny Ramsey says ...
Happy to discover the Good soaps at my local Fresno Ca Wholefoods store. Love these fresh soaps and glad they are so affordable.
10/29/2014 10:58:08 PM CDT
Jamie says ...
I'm confused by the Whole Foods moderator above saying a couple of times that Whole Foods doesn't know the ingredients in this product....I thought that Whole Foods only carries products that have (or don't have) certain ingredients, so how can there not be any idea what's in it...? I started shopping at Whole Foods about a year ago because I was under the impression that in general they keep some of the worst things out of all products on their shelves in general, so I guess I'm surprised that there could just be anything in this product that they sell.
11/29/2014 11:04:42 PM CST
Dara says ...
To everybody looking for a list of ingredients: ask the staff in-store and they'll be happy to show you!
11/30/2014 1:48:02 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@JAMIE - My apologies for the confusion. Every single product we sell in our stores must meet our rigorous quality standards. The GOOD soap is an exclusive product for our stores so the entire ingredient list is not found online. As I mentioned, a Team Member in store will be happy to read the ingredient list for you if you give them a call!
12/01/2014 4:32:36 PM CST
Jamie says ...
Cool, thanks for the follow-up Nikki!
12/03/2014 9:20:57 PM CST
Sherry L. Phillips says ...
OMGoodness! GOOD soap is AWESOME! I purchased the Mint, Coconut and Rose as "stocking stuffer" gifts for my family while at the Whole Foods in Savannah yesterday, Well, I decided to try out the Coconut tonight. WOW! I am now your biggest fan and have to make another trip Saturday for more of this fantastic super "foaming" stuff!
12/17/2014 8:02:03 PM CST
michael says ...
Am not a user and contrary to the flowery reports, probably will not be. It seems strange to me that your company can not provide an ingredient list when asked if your standards are so high. Sounds a little odd to me, sorry.
01/11/2015 12:46:23 PM CST
Nikki - Community Moderator says ...
@MICHAEL - I was able to get a list of the ingredients so if you are curious, feel free to email me at socialmediahelp@wholefoods.com. Let me know which scent you need the list for and I'll be happy to send it to you!
01/28/2015 5:01:32 PM CST
Monika Kovacs says ...
A suggestion Why there is GOAT MILK POWDER as a main Ingredients in a simple bar of soap called GOOD. But WHY ?Goat Milk Powder ? why do we need that dead dairy trash in a simple soap ! WAKE UP! I will return all of them. And next time please put the ingredients list on the shelf/stand etc. FOR VEGAN PLANT BASED people !
08/26/2015 12:13:56 AM CDT