We’re excited to announce that Kahina Giving Beauty is now available in Malaysia. You can find us at the Charis Naturals in Robinsons at The Garden, Kuala Lumpur.
Tag Archives | New Beginnings
I have found that most of Moroccan business is done over tea and a handshake at the very least, and more often involves a show of their extreme hospitality. I was invited to numerous meals in the homes of my Berber friends, all of which included enough food to feed the entire village. These meals were extravagant by any means, especially considering the relative poverty of my hosts. Amazing multi-course meals, in which all the ingredients were grown organically on the premises, were produced in the simplest of homes over a wood-burning stove. Even inside the cooperatives, the Berber women would share their simple staple of ground argan nuts combined with honey and olive oil.
These events are the starting point for good, lasting business relationships in Morocco. The exchange of money is never mentioned during these meals, which can last for hours once the rituals of hand washing and drinking tea have been completed, the “bismallah’s have been said, and the food eaten from a communal plate.
The elaborate paperwork that is required to import products, meet FDA and cosmetic manufacturing regulations pales in importance to the bonds formed over good food and mint tea and for that reason the business forms we rely on can be difficult to obtain. Most urgent requests for paperwork are met with “I’ll send it to you next week Inshallah (interpreted to mean something like “I’ll send it to you if God wills that my computer works, my car doesn’t break down, it isn’t a feast day, or there is any other possible obstruction.”).
While we can email the most basic information to each other in French, when I am there conversation requires two translators — from English to Arabic, and from Arabic to Berber. Interviewing the women who work in the cooperatives on a recent visit was a version of the childhood game of telephone – I would ask a question, which was translated into Arabic and then into Berber for the final recipient. Peals of laughter and chatter would ring the room of women before an answer would come back down the line to me, which by the time it reached me would be reduced to a simple word or two.
I am often amazed when the oil actually arrives. The first few shipments I received were shipped to the Post Office in rustic, hand-made wooden crates with nails sticking out of them and my address scrawled on the outside in black ink. It took a month for them to arrive by boat and by the time the crates got to me, the writing was barely legible.
But it is this part of the experience that keeps bringing me back to Morocco, to the simple life there and good-humored temperament of the people that live there And it is this experience I hope to share with others through Kahina Giving Beauty.
Originally published July 3, 2009
In the Fall of 2007 I had the chance to travel to Morocco for the first time. Moroccans are strong believers in destiny and I have come to believe that it was my destiny to discover argan oil on that trip.
On my way to Morocco, my expensive face cream with a major luxury brand name was confiscated at the airport. I bought something changing planes at Heathrow, but left that behind in the hotel after my first night in Casablanca. I journeyed to Fes in one of the few times in my life without any lotion on my face and by the time I got to the desert I was desperate. In Marrakech, I asked my guide what the local women use on their skin and he told me about argan oil. This was before argan oil had become known in the US and I had never heard of it before, nor was I in the practice of using pure oil on my face. At that point, I still believed in the superiority of the technology of developed countries, even in the area of skin care. But my 5th Ave skin care resources don’t exist in Morocco, so I asked him to take me somewhere where I could purchase some oil.
I was delivered to an apothecary in the heart of the medina where the owner served sweet mint tea and expounded on every spice and medicinal treatment on the shelves, from arthritis, to impotency and rheumatism before he finally got around to selling me the argan oil.
I bought the argan oil and brought it home. It wasn’t long before I was hooked. My skin was radiant and glowing and I loved how light it felt on my skin in contrast to the rich creams I’d been using. This was an epiphany for me — that a pure oil, used for centuries by women in a country across the world could be more effective than anything I could find at home. It was then that I decided to create the skin care line I had been searching for. One based on simple, good ingredients that work.
Stay tuned for more…
When I first visited the remote village of Tazghelite, I received an especially heartwarming welcome from the women who live there.One of the tour of the tiny village we stopped at a small cement building that housed the weaving collective. There I was presented with the gift of a rug that the women had made for me, a lovely traditional knotted rug with KAHINA and the name of the cooperative emblazed on it.It is now one of my dearest treasures.
The same women who do the work of cracking the nuts for Kahina’s oil are also perfecting weaving skills in order to create textiles to sell at market. These women told me that they needed rugs, not only provide dairy and meat, but as a source of wool to use in their rug weaving.
During the month of December, $10 from the purchase of each of our Gift Sets go toward the purchase of goats for these women.
This truly is a gift that keeps on giving.
I had the extreme pleasure of visiting a Fair Trade argan producer in the tiny village of Tazghilite in the Anti-Atlas Mountains, two hours from Taroudant. Instead of working in the traditional cooperative model, the women of the village are paid a fair wage for the harvesting and cracking of the argan nuts by an individual who runs the company, a lovely Frenchman named Albans who relocated to Tarzhgilite four years ago. With the oversight of Albans and his small staff, the women are able to make a living working in their homes, and the cooperative progresses smoothly exporting the highest quality cosmetic and culinary oil. In addition to providing the women with a living wage, Albans has developed numerous programs to assist the villagers, including providing water for the village, the development of a women weavers’ cooperative as an additional resource for income, and the planting of olive trees for the women’s use.
I was enthusiastically welcomed during my stay in their village, presented with a rug they had woven and invited to join them in a traditional Berber celebration in the evening.
“Women helping women through shared beauty rituals” means not only bringing beauty traditions from other parts of the world to women in the West, but creating a community of women here who can share beauty advice and tips.I receive numerous emails a day from Kahina customers, many of them just wanting to express their appreciation for the products, and many writing with real skincare concerns that they would like addressed.Either way, I take great pleasure in connecting with these women, especially since our customers are generally like-minded souls – conscious consumers concerned with their health, the environment, and helping others.
Sometimes, these communications can result in new friendships.Recently a customer, a fitness trainer living in the California desert, wrote to me with a concern.After hearing about my broken ankle, she offered to provide me with exercises to do at home while I am on the mend.It is a wonderful time to start a business, with the advent of so many social media tools that help us connect with our customers and foster a community in which we can join together, share advice – and pass on beauty secrets.
I’d love to share photos, stories and health and beauty tips from more of our customers. Please send a photo of yourself and how you use any of our products – or any other beauty tips.
In celebration of the 40th anniversary of Earth Day, Morocco announced the National Charter for Environment and Sustainable Development, aimed at advising future policy in the country. This charter is the first of its kind in Africa and in the Arab World. Initiatives presented by cabinet ministers included the eradication of plastic bags, erection of artificial reefs to protect marine ecosystems, the use of methane gas from a landfill to generate clean energy and to repair the desertification in the south. King Mohammed VI, who is pioneering this campaign, also launched a plan which aims to plant one million palm trees by 2015.
This is a huge step forward for a country where one can see massive burning piles of trash along the roads and, while I was there, seemed to have a virtually nonexistent recycling program. But positive change is visible as well: some of the most beautiful sights as we were winding through the lush green mountains between Tangier and Tetouan were the wind farms, with installed production capacities between 32MW and 140MW. Along with other initiatives, such as solar energy projects in the Sahara, Morocco expects 42% of its energy to be supplied by renewable energy by 2020. The Argan forest in southern Morocco is the last barrier protecting Morocco from desert encroachment. Learn more about the Arganeraie Biosphere Reserve by clicking here.
This morning, we welcomed editors from top web and print publications to enjoy a breakfast at our counter at Bergdorf Goodman and to learn about the Kahina Giving Beauty line. Bread with argan oil for dipping and pastries were served. Kahina Giving Beauty launched at Bergdorf Goodman last week and we have received great feedback from the staff and customers!
Kahina Giving Beauty is proud to announce the opening of the Kahina Giving Beauty boutique on the Beauty Level of Bergdorf Goodman, New York City’s iconic department store for luxury brands. On Tuesday, June 2, we held our training with the BG staff, introducing our products, which was met with great enthusiasm by the Bergdorf Goodman sales associates.
Stop by and meet Dawn, our beauty specialist and receive a free sample!
Bergdorf Goodman: 754 5th Avenue.
Kahina Giving Beauty is now available for purchase on online boutique Spirit Beauty Lounge! Spirit is dedicated to bringing shoppers the very best of sustainable beauty & lifestyle products; their selection includes luxe skincare & organic makeup, as well as chic handbags & home goods. The site is very user-friendly, featuring live personal shoppers and offering a generous sampling program.
We love Spirit’s efforts toward being the greenest of stores. You can read about all their eco-friendly qualities–like donating 1% of sales to 1% for the Planet– by clicking here.