Founder Spotlight: An Interview with Debbie VanGrieken from Moyaa Shea Products

#Founderspotlight - Moyaa Shea Products - Debbie Vangrieken

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#Founderspotlight - Moyaa Shea Products - Debbie Vangrieken

Have you heard that Moyaa Shea Butter’s Unscented Fair Trade Organic Raw Shea Butter AND Moyaa Lavender Soap are both Finalists in the 5th Clean Beauty Awards for the best Body Care and Body Wash categories! This is no easy feat!

We jumped at the opportunity to interview the Founder, Debbie VanGrieken, to learn more about the brand and the mission behind the products that have raving reviews from CertClean’s Awards’ judging panel!

A Little Bit About Moyaa Shea Butter

Debbie van Grieken is a mother of 5 sons and after a Melanoma diagnosis and treatment that required surgery she began looking for Natural alternatives to skin care for herself and her family. With a passion for Fair Trade and a desire to help others Debbie launched her Brand Moyaa Shea Products in 2016. As a social enterprise Moyaa is committed to producing the highest quality of Premium Organic, Grade A, Shea Butter and Shea products. These all natural products help people dealing with skin issues, from simple dryness to painful eczema and common skin irritations. Using the framework of Fair Trade and introducing a zero-waste program Moyaa strives to transform the lives of people in Uganda by ending the cycle of dependency for the Shea farmers and their families. Thinking Globally and acting locally is very important so Moyaa gives back in many ways. Through the Giving Tuesday Campaign Moyaa has provided much needed funds to Niagara youth in crisis by partnering with RAFT in St Catherine’s , a shelter for youth in transition from homelessness. Moyaa sponsors girl’s education through their social impact program which has helped girls to attend school in developing countries. Many children in our own community struggle to have the tools available to succeed in school so Moyaa supports Open Arms Mission and provides filled back packs to children in need. Moyaa has supported re-seeding programs and practices environmental stewdship both locally and in Uganda. Moyaa’s current project in Uganda is to purchase a Charcoal making Machine that will provide 30 women immediate employment and income and prevent deforestation by using technology that converts agriculture waste into charcoal for cooking. This initiative aligns with the triple bottom line business model of People, Planet and Sustainability. Debbie personally travels to Uganda to work directly with the farmers and to ensure the integrity of her product and business. She leaves April 14th for harvest season.

 

What inspired you to start your natural Shea Butter company?

After a melanoma diagnosis I became aware of how important using natural safe ingredients was for my health and my family’s health when I learned about the amazing benefits of Raw Shea Butter I wanted to provide an opportunity for Farmers in Uganda to get their incredible product into the global market place and provide an excellent quality product to consumers.

What were some roadblocks/issues that you have faced? How did you conquer these issues?

For me it was very important that I knew exactly where my ingredients were coming from and that my entire supply chain was being treated fairly. The only way to be sure was to travel directly to the remote villages of Northern Uganda. I also experienced challenges with being environmentally friendly. I had to rebrand with different packaging going from black plastic jars to a glass jar that could be better recycled or reused. We switched from plastic lip balm tubes to compostable cardboard tubes and paper sleeves for our soap. We are trying to educate our target market about the benefits of Shea and the difference between our high quality East African Shea compared to the commonly found west African Shea and we are spotlighting the importance of our Fair Trade and social impact.

Congratulations on having your Unscented Moyaa Shea Butter AND your Moyaa Lavender Soap as Finalists for the 5th Clean Beauty Awards! We heard that the Body Care category was really competitive this year so can you tell us more about the Shea Butter? What makes it wonderful?

Our Grade A Raw Organic Shea Butter is a multi tasking body cream that can help with simple dryness or severe skin irritations like eczema, rashes, burns, stretch marks, scars and diaper rash and cradle cap. Our customers give us glowing reviews and are so relieved when the find a natural solution to their conditions. We especially love hearing from those who have suffered with painful eczema or moms that have found our products helpful for their babies rashes or skin issues.

What are your favourite ingredients and why? 

Our products would be nothing with out the amazing East African Shea Butter called Nilotica Shea Nilotica comes from the fruit of the Karite tree, Vitellaria nilotica. It is best in its raw unrefined state.  Shea Nilotica is very soft and creamy. The butter spreads easily on the skin. It does not have a strong aroma and the color is light yellow. It is only found in Africa and because of its high Oleic fatty acid content it is creamier and spreads and absorbs much quicker then West African Shea which also tends to have a stronger smell and colour.

Thank you Debbie Van Grieken for taking the time to share your motivations and wisdom! For those curious, Moyaa Shea Butter products are certified cruelty-free by Leaping bunny. Debbie has received training in formulating and are certified Grade A specialists by the American Shea Butter Institute in Atlanta Georgia.

Follow Moyaa Shea Butter Products’ journey on their brand’s website, Instagram or Facebook to see their natural products and support a brand with a social mission that is consciously making safer skincare for our use!

Want to learn more about the finalist(s)? Check them out below!

Moyaa Shea Butter Fair Trade Organic Raw S

Moyaa Shea Butter – Unscented

2020 BodyCare Finalist

Price: $25 CAD

Moyaa Shea Butter - Lavender Soap

Moyaa Shea Soap – Lavender – Calming

2020 BodyWash Finalist

Price: $20 CAD

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