Katharine L’Heureux and the Kahina brand are recognized as one of Global Cosmetic Industry Magazine’s “20 to Know.” Authors Brian Budzynski and Jeff Falk write, ”It takes a lot of creative, capable people to build and power the exciting and dynamic beauty industry. Presented here are 20 who captured our imaginations in 2009.”
“In the fall of 2007, an excursion through Morocco took Katharine L’Heureux from Rabat to Casablanca to Marrakesh, and subsequently deeper into the south of the country, where the argan forests cover some 1.5 million acres. It was there, in the midst of government cooperatives and a rather wobbly economic infrastructure, that she came upon the idea of an organic, argan oil-based skin care line. The argan forests are a national preserve, preventing foreign bodies from exploiting this rich resource. Cooperatives were established in villages across the south to harvest and process argan oil. By Moroccan law, only Berber women of the south are allowed to harvest argan. Once L’Heureux learned about these cooperatives, witnessed their function and importance, it was “the a-ha moment.” She was able to establish a direct relationship with the cooperatives, resulting in Kahina—a brand line of 100% organic argan oil products, consisting of a facial system, as well as pure argan oil, said to neutralize free radicals and protect skin against all manner of environmental stressors.
Since, Giving Beauty has established literacy programs within the cooperatives to teach the women there, nearly all of whom are functionally illiterate, how to write their names, how to recognize the letters of and communicate in Arabic—along with other practical skills such as using cell phones (the preponderance of which, even in such remote areas, should in this age surprise no one) and bus schedules, for shopping and travel. ‘I did not want to do another token gesture for marketing purposes,’ says L’Heureux. ‘I really wanted this to be meaningful. [These women] all value education so much because they value it so much for their kids.’ The aim of these literacy sessions is to empower the women ultimately responsible for Kahina, and to also enrich their communities, which Giving Beauty also does by returning 25% of the brand’s proceeds directly to the cooperatives. ‘It’s the new economy,’ L’Heureux says, ‘You can do good and it will, in turn, come back to you.’”
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