MADE Magazine Spring 2019 May 2019 - Page 50

MADEINC MADEXXX butter, I decided I wanted to help them sell their product to global markets. That's when I became the Butta Boss. I would spend the remaining time in my Peace Corps service further developing the idea and when I returned to the US I moved to DC and launched Shea Yeleen. The mission was to create high quality natural organic shea butter products that generate living wages for women in rural African villages. I had very little money, zero business experience, a tiny network, and frankly no idea what I was doing. The only tangible thing I had was a deep belief that women in Africa deserved a chance to benefit from a global supply chain that they were actively involved in. I decided no matter how long it would take I would work to make that vision a reality. Over the last decade, I took a volunteer experience and turned it into a beauty brand that distributes products in select Whole Foods Markets, MGM Resorts, natural independent food stores, and boutiques. My supply chain involves 800 women in Northern Ghana and our model creates living wages for the women we work with. On this entrepreneurial journey I have learned so many things about myself. The most surprising has been how believing in my dream has drawn me closer to God and deepened my spiritual practice. There were so many moments when I felt completely defeated and questioned my ability to preserve and at the most unlikely of times things would turn in my favor. I experienced moments I never could have imagined from our shea butter producers traveling to the US to meet our buyers at Whole Foods to being appointed to President Obama’s Advisory Council on Doing Business in Africa. The most powerful of all the lessons I’ve learned thus far is the power of believing. Whatever it maybe, believing is always the first step in achieving. | 50