Tutuwa’s great-grandmother was a beneficiary of generations of African women who passed on the wisdom of ages – how to make skincare products using traditional African herbs and oils, and trading them for barter. She knew for instance, to mix Neem leaves with her oils when her skin was breaking out, and to mix Baobab oil with her soaps to slow down wrinkling.
Today, Nokware is a modern day African skincare brand. Inspired with Grandma’s wisdom, we aim to promote African herbs, oils and plants, which heal and protect us and can be found all over Africa. This fusion of traditional and modern-day knowledge is a part of our generational legacy, and it is our privilege to be able to share that heritage with the rest of the world.
We source our raw materials such as calabashes and shea butter from local women’s co-operatives, with whom we practice a fair-pricing, zero-exploitation policy, because economic inclusion is our ultimate goal. We strive to honor Ubuntu, a Southern African philosophy that translates ‘I am because we are’, by giving back to our communities and empowering those who have been traditionally excluded from the workplace, or not given equal opportunities to earn a meaningful livelihood.
We are choosing to place community commerce at the forefront of our brand. We believe that together, we can transform the lives of over 5000 shea butter processors, calabash growers and agricultural farmers across Africa, many of whom are women. By purchasing a Nokware product, you make it possible for us to use skincare and commerce as a means to empower communities and to do business in a more beautiful way – with purpose.
There are still less women than men in the global workforce, and these women make significantly less than men, for doing the same jobs. In Africa particularly, the gap in opportunities, status, incomes and so on between men and women is even more dire and is depriving the African continent of a huge, valuable resource. This is why it is our pressing priority to work towards bridging the gender parity gap by empowering African women through employment.
It is also a story that is deeply personal. Tutuwa’s great-grandmother never received a formal education, but managed to raise 8 successful children who have a love for social responsibility. Who knows what Great Grandma herself could have achieved, had she had educational opportunities?
It is this sense of expansive possibilities that inspire us. This is why we are a female – owned business with an all female factory population and a female affiliate program. Our women are evidence that when women support each other, incredible things happen.
As an African skincare brand, we know firsthand the psychological injury that colonization has had on the self-esteem of African women, and for decades, the beauty industry has deepened this injury by displaying a stereotype of beauty that leans towards a strong preference for lighter skinned women. This preference has led a majority of African women to use skin-lightening products on a daily basis and has caused pregnant Ghanaian women to take skin lightening pills so they can give birth to light skinned babies.
By promoting the use of products that contain 100% natural ingredients and by pushing for inclusivity and representation through our marketing campaigns, we are actively promoting a message of love and appreciation. Our goal is to change the narrative on beauty by providing a space where skin color, in all its infinite shades and variety, is celebrated, represented and appreciated.
For us, zero waste is about repurposing what would have otherwise ended up on a landfill, on our streets and in our oceans. It’s about aligning our lifestyle with our values in ways that make our impact.
We want to raise awareness that plastic is not the only way and that all around us are natural materials that when repurposed, can make beautiful, sustainable packaging materials such as our repurposed raffia, jute sacks, bamboo, and the gourd plant from which our calabashes are derived.
For centuries, calabashes have been used in Africa for drinking, eating, storage, and in religious and traditional ceremonies. They’re beautiful, versatile and natural. They’re Nokware’s way of packaging, and they’re a part of our heritage. Our shea butters are packaged in bamboo, which has strong fibrous properties making it the ideal green material for packaging.
We are not where we want to be yet, as our bamboo packaging has a thin plastic lining. The plastic lining we use however is PET plastic, which is recyclable and reusable. We are tirelessly researching into natural alternatives however, and will not stop until we get to the point where no packaging materials of ours will contain even the tiniest speck of plastic ever again.
Nokware For women
This fund, is our instrument towards leaving our world a better place than we met it – our way of empowering the younger generation by helping to bridge the gender education gap in Africa. It is Nokware’s way of doing business by giving purpose.
The fund provides financial assistance for the education of the young daughters of our factory women and the women from whom we source. Our goal is to help women, in circumstances much like our great-grandmother Tutuwa, break cycles of poverty and give women of all ages and backgrounds an equal opportunity to thrive. We will not rise alone. We are because they are, and therefore we’ll rise, when they all rise.