Today I’m featuring a Q&A with one of my suppliers, Akovi of Makeda Shea Butter. Akovi is always so happy and full of life. Every time I pick up some fresh shea butter from him I find myself in the best mood as his take on life is just contagious. Do you have anyone in your life like that?
Akovi’s spirit may be bigger than life, but I wanted to introduce him to you for another reason as he is the man behind the deliciously raw, unrefined Makeda Shea Butter. His shea butter is fairly traded in Togo where he works with local villagers to package up the butter and bring it back fresh for his customers. Shea butter is awesome for eczema – use it directly on the skin or melted down in the bath. But I digress…..
Please welcome Akovi!
Q: Akovi, Please tell us more about your self.
A: I was born in a little village in Togo, West Africa, second child out of seven that my parents had. I’ve lived in France, USA (New York and San Francisco), and Switzerland before eventually moving to Montreal, Canada. While in Geneva, Switzerland I was blessed with the birth of my daughter, Makeda, in 2003.
Makeda: Unrefined, Raw African Shea Butter
Q: What inspired you to start selling raw, unrefined shea butter?
A: To be honest, the whole thing started as an accident. Selling shea butter wasn’t part of the plan. I opened an African shop in Montreal in the winter of 2005, with the purpose of selling African arts, made by the folks in my village, but customers were mostly asking for shea butter.
So I thought back to the shea butter I use to this day, the one hand crafted in my village in Togo, the only cream that I knew growing up. There are different types of shea butter around that I’ve tried since, but none are better than the one I grew up with. I decided I would sell the raw shea butter from my village. The real stuff. I had the opportunity to refine it, to put perfume in it, but I chose not too. I wanted to keep it pure, natural, unrefined. Customer feedback has been amazing.
Q: Where did the name Makeda come from?
A: Well, I guess you have figured it out by now. Also known as Queen of Sheba, She is said to have been born some time in the 10th century BC. She was the queen of Ethiopia. She was said to be very pretty, extremely rich, and very powerful. She was an African Queen, and married to King Solomon. It is said that the beauty of Queen Makeda comes from her extensive use of shea butter. Makeda is the name I gave to my daughter. Giving that name to my product as well, is “a clin d’oeil” to my daughter.
Q: Tell us a little more about the village, and it’s people, where the shea butter comes from. How is Makeda Shea Butter fairly traded?
A: The beauty of Makeda Shea Butter is that it comes directly from the people who make it, directly from the village I’m from in Togo. Growing up, after school and after soccer we all made shea butter. It is a small village, just like any other village in Africa, the only difference is that the people of my village have been making shea butter for centuries, it is part of our daily life. And we use it for EVERYTHING! We cook with it, we put it on our skin to prevent dryness and stretch marks, and we pretty much use it for everything, ranging from mosquito bites to eczema and all sort of skin problems.
Q: What is the journey like from the shea seeds to the unrefined Makeda Shea Butter on your shelf?
A: Well, the nuts are picked, cracked, grilled and pounded to extract the butter which is then boiled in water until the fresh shea butter rises to the surface. It is then scooped into gourds and left to cool and set. All this is done in an open field, using a natural wood fire. From this stage, I have a team of people who fill up little shelf-ready jars with the shea butter, put them in a large shipping container, then ship them to me from Togo to Montreal.
Raw Shea Butter
Q: Do you, or any family members, use the shea butter personally? What kind of skin benefits have you seen?
A: I personally can not put anything else on my skin apart from Makeda Shea Butter. I apply it at least twice a day and I spend about 10 min each time gently massaging it into my skin. It makes my skin unbelievably smooth.
Q: I’ve heard you can melt it down under warm water and use it as an oil in the bath. Are there any other unusual uses for shea butter?
A: Shea butter naturally melts in hot water, so it’s great melted down in the bath. The sensation is absolutely wonderful. Makeda Shea Butter is very effective when used as a remedy for cracked heels. Apply the shea butter every night and results are almost guaranteed. It works extraordinarily well for eczema too. Makeda Shea Butter is good for your skin, use it everyday, any moment of the day, and you are sure to have softer and smother skin.
Thank you Akovi!