••• OUR JOURNEY •••
Over the years, there have been moments that shaped the natural products industry. One such moment occurred when Olowo-n’djo Tchala met Prairie Rose Hyde. No one could have imagined a young woman from rural Washington and a young man born and raised in rural Togo, West Africa with a sixth grade education would go on to build one of the most successful fair trade body care organizations in the natural products industry. No one except them, that is.
Olowo-n’djo Tchala was born and raised in the village of Kaboli, Togo where he shared a single 8’x10’ room with his mother and seven siblings. After failing to afford school tuition, Olowo-n’djo dropped out of school in the sixth grade. In the years after, he worked alongside his mother on her farm. In 1996, Olowo-n’djo met and fell in love with Peace Corps Volunteer, Prairie Rose Hyde, while she worked in Kaboli. After her service ended, the couple moved to the United States with a shared goal: ﬁnding a way to alleviate poverty in West Africa.
Rose entered a graduate program at the University of California, Davis studying International Agricultural Development and Ethnobotany, the scientiﬁc study of the relationships that exist between people and plants. Olowo-n’djo studied English and earned a degree in Organizational Theory. Determined to make a difference in his home country, Olowo-n’djo applied for a $50,000 business loan and, not familiar with the American banking system, did not understand why the bank could not fulﬁll his request when he had no personal ﬁnancial assets. Eventually, Rose’s brother offered his house as collateral and the couple obtained the loan, traveled to Togo, and formed what we know today as Alaffia.
••• ALAFFIA •••
a•laf•fi•a \ ah-la-fee-uh \ noun. A common greeting or valediction originating from central Togo, Benin, and Nigeria. Alafﬁa means a state of peace, health, and well-being.
••• THE EBAN SYMBOL •••
Eban is a traditional West African symbol representing protection, security, and love.