My journey with Nailah’s Shea is borne from a series of interconnected leaps of faith, personal life circumstances, and sheer curiosity.
While attending North Carolina Agricultural & Technical State University, I worked a part-time job in pharmaceutical medicine, learning how to make compounds out of creams and ointments. I also learned about some of the side effects of many of the prescription drugs that I so freely dispensed. With my own children suffering from skin conditions like eczema and severely dry skin, I made it my mission to find and start using natural healing creams on their bodies for our personal use. What I couldn't find or afford, I started making.
About this time, I was abruptly laid off due to budget cuts. I had no Plan B and as a single mother with two growing children, I needed to ensure that they had the necessities that they needed in order to feel secure. During this tough and trying transitional period, I relied on government assistance to get us over the hump.
It’s funny how you think that you have hit a low point in your life, only for it to be a gift and the shift that you had been waiting for, but never expected. I loved making skincare products for my family, specifically soaps and body butters infused with the beauty of nature and the majesty of love. I was also acutely aware of the need to learn as much as possible about raw ingredients and fair trade.
The previous summer, I had worked hard to save money to visit my siblings, whom I hadn’t seen in over 30 years, in Zanzibar East Africa.
When I travelled to Zanzibar, I was taken aback by the abject poverty whilst the country had the most diverse and rich natural resources I had ever experienced. Foreign investors were buying land, building hotels and spas, and investing in themselves and not the indigenous people on the island. The indigenous people on the island were barely making a dollar a day if they had a job or business at all. I decided that I wanted to make a difference in the US and in my mother’s homeland.
How could I make a difference?
I decided I could start by making sure that when I purchased my raw ingredients I knew exactly where my product ingredients were coming from – making sure that I purchased organic and fair trade as often as possible. These series of experiences and brave decisions have afforded me the blessing of building Nailah’s Shea to where we are today.