The Genesis: Our Origin Story
Today, as the team at Ellie Bianca celebrates Earth Day, we're looking back at our genesis and the trip to Chad that started it all for our founder, Evelyne.
I traveled the world providing environmental consulting services for several years before I embarked on the creation of Ellie Bianca, an ethical, all-natural skin care line. In November of 2012, my environmental work took me to Chad, a country in the heart of Central Africa. My role was to ensure our work was carried out in accordance with international standards and ensure all three pillars of sustainability were implemented. I was travelling by truck on the dusty roads with my interpreter, Lotar, when we entered a village near Moundou, located a few kilometers from the Cameroonian border.
THE MANGO STORY
We came upon a farm with the most beautiful wild mango trees I had ever seen. We had been working all day, and naturally I was hungry and thirsty. A woman was working among the trees with her children, so we stopped the truck and approached the family. The woman’s skin was as smooth as the skin of the golden mangoes. Her eyes lit up when we asked her if we could buy some. She sent her children clambering up the tree to fill a box of fruit for us. After indulging in not one, not two, but three or so sweet mangoes, I offered to pay her. Lotar said, “You must give the money to her husband as a sign of respect." Her husband was sitting at a distance, off to the side, he hadn’t moved a muscle all the while we were there. Begrudgingly, I paid him.
As we drove away, I asked Lotar how the woman managed to have such supple skin despite the scorching African sun. In response, he pointed to another tree in the village – the shea nut tree. The women in the village use Shea butter to keep their skin soft and radiant, a generational skin care ritual that has kept them glowing through the years. Tall, dark, radiant and blemish free, a picture was forever planted in my eyes.
WORKING WITH WOMEN
Not only was I struck by the beauty of the woman, but her situation moved me. The village is poor, and the women and their children work hard, yet their land is abundantly filled with wildcrafted and organically grown trees and plants. It is awash with superfoods such as hibiscus flowers, moringa trees, tamarind, cashews and a myriad of others that could be profitable for them. The wheels started turning in my mind, I wanted to make a difference and I wanted the money the women earned to go directly into their pockets. It was here, this small village in Chad, that inspired the vision for Ellie Bianca.
With Odette’s help, I engaged the village women to form a collective and to harvest the shea butter, which is a primary ingredient in Ellie Bianca’s luxurious oils. Odette now runs Ellie Bianca’s operations in Chad.
Now in our fifth year of operation, Ellie Bianca is a Canadian-based skin care line that boasts twenty-one all-natural products. We use organic oils and butters from Africa and all over the world to formulate and produce many of our products. With my background as a chemist, we are combining modern day science and the power of plants that have been used for centuries. We have since launched skin oils, face oils, face serums, bath salts and lip balms.
Our products are scientifically formulated with naturally sourced ingredients and are environmentally friendly, organic and non-GMO. We ensure that our supply chain is fair for the women and men who harvest the ingredients for our products. We are committed to creating a superior beauty brand that is luxurious and provides a sustainable livelihood for the women who cultivate the ingredients we all love to use on our skin. Ellie Bianca is a holistic skin care line that cultivates, sustains and empowers women through sustainable business practices and fair trade. My dream of uplifting and empowering women in Chad and in other African villages is coming to fruition.
IN OUR OWN BACKYARD
I am also dedicated to helping women here at home. In Canada, we support the Ellie Bianca Woman Scholarship program to fund single mothers to pursue their dreams of completing a post-secondary education. My own journey as a single mother has instilled a desire to assist single mothers in their quest for higher education. The scholarship also funds boys and girls in Africa to have access to education.
It was just eight years ago that Lotar and I traveled along the rough roads of Chad and discovered the mango and shea nut trees. Since then I embarked on a powerful journey, and have managed to forge a bridge between two continents. My mission is to continue to expand Ellie Bianca’s products across Canada, the United States, Africa and into Europe with the goal of cultivating a global collection of empowered women.
I firmly believe that when we are kind to the earth and kind to women, we make the world a better place.
Evelyne Nyairo, M.Sc., P.Biol.
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