KAHINA turns 10, episode 4

 In Blog, Katharine's Journal, The Kahina Story, Uncategorized

So, now I had a chemist and argan oil, but still needed a brand identity (having decided against Argan Organics), to develop packaging and identify someone who could manufacture my formulas.

An initial thought was to manufacture products in Morocco as it was closer to my ingredients supply and would preserve more of the economic chain for that country.  After researching manufacturing facilities in Morocco and making contact with one of the largest, and seemingly reputable, ones, I returned to Morocco in the spring of 2008, once again accompanied by my driver, translator, guide and companion, Majid.  Eager to spend more time with the women of the cooperative I was doing business with, I once again paid a visit to Smimou to personally place my second order for bulk argan oil and discuss improving shipping methods. Over tea and bread dipped in culinary argan oil as is customary, I placed my second order, this time of 40 liters to be sent to me in NYC via DHL.  The order of 40 liters seemed vast to me at the time, and laughably made me feel like a big shot.

Majid and I in Morocco

Once this successful transaction was completed (via cash and multiple trips to the local ATM), Majid and I drove the long distance to meet the manufacturer in Casablanca at the end of the workday in Morocco.  We were given a complete tour of the facility, which was in fact impressive and employed many women.  Though they didn’t do much business in the organics sector, they were eager to enter the category and so welcomed the opportunity to learn more about my business.

At the end of the tour and meeting, Majid and I returned to his car.  It was dark when we finished and I was tired after the long day, eager to return to my hotel.  No sooner had we shut the car doors that Majid’s cell phone rang.  It was the owner of the production facility who we had just met asking Majid to meet him in his office, leaving me in the car in a vacant parking lot.  Fifteen minutes later Majid returned and informed me that he had received a somewhat threatening admonishment not to interfere in the potential manufacturing partnership.  The phone rang again, this time with a request that I enter the building, alone, and meet the owner in his office.  Ignoring my internal alarm bells at the strange request, I entered and went upstairs to his office, knowing that Majid would be outside, on alert.  I don’t recall what we discussed at the meeting other than that he showed me a website for some violet glass bottles from the Netherlands that helped to preserve natural ingredients.  And that is how I learned about Miron Glass.  The Moroccan manufacturer and I never entered into a contract, and I believe he was most interested in obtaining my formulas, but I had discovered the beautiful bottles I wanted to use for our packaging.

Back in the US, there was still much to be done. Now I had a chemist, formulas, oil and bottles. I still needed a brand identity. Until that point, my Argan Organics bottles were amber glass with a lovely label designed with Moroccan-inspired motifs. My beautiful violet glass bottles set the tone for a new direction for the brand design. It would be edgy and cool and strikingly beautiful. But first a name. There were many contenders for names, which mostly came to me in the shower or on long walks, but the time I had spent with the Berber women had left a real impact and I felt inclined to honor them in the name of my product line. An online search for Berber heroines led me to the name KAHINA, a Berber queen and prophetess who reigned in North Africa in the 8th Century. At that time, the concept was to create a number of lines based on key ingredients sourced from women’s cooperatives around the world. KAHINA was to be the name of our first, argan oil-based line. Giving Beauty would be the company name that would be the umbrella over all of the various skincare lines in the family. An ambitious goal I soon learned, but for now I had settled on a name KAHINA GIVING BEAUTY.

Stay tuned for more…

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