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New York City woman makes and sells her own shea butter products

Kadidja Kabore-Lamport in the El Sol Brillante garden on East 12th St., where she is an active member.
Photo by Bob Krasner

In our version of a perfect world, corporations that rake in billions would bend over backwards to pay back the people who keep us healthy and teach our children, while mom and pop entrepreneurs would be putting their energies into gaining a foothold in the marketplace. Instead, the most successful businesses avoid even paying taxes and people like Kadidja Kabore-Lamport are staying up late in their kitchen to give back to the neighborhood.

After being a stay-at-home mom with two sons, Kabore-Lamport took the advice of her friends and began to sell the shea butter products that she had been making for years for friends and family. A West African native, Kabore-Lamport imports the raw material – a fat that’s extracted from the nuts of the shea tree – from women she knows personally in Ghana and turns them into hand salve, lip balm, soap and more. Through her website and pop-up shops in places like Tompkins Square Park, she is now selling 21 different products, all of which she makes herself.

“I have to pay attention to every detail,” Kabore-Lamport explains. “The lotions, for example, are very difficult. They can’t be too oily and they must be smooth. I have to remake them sometimes – if I can’t use it on my skin, I won’t sell it.” Unlike commercial brands, which may only use 5% shea butter, Kabore-Lamport makes sure that 60-70% is the norm. Other ingredients are thoughtfully sourced as well, including beeswax from upstate New York, sunflower oil from Hawaii and hibiscus flowers from Africa. 

Kadidja Kabore-Lamport in her small kitchen, where she makes all her products.(Photo by Bob Krasner)
Shea butter from Ghana, ready to be melted down.(Photo by Bob Krasner)
Honey for the lip balm.(Photo by Bob Krasner)

Last year, Kabore-Lamport’s products found their way onto the hands of many health workers, with the help of generous support from the neighborhood and Kabore-Lamport’s hard work.  The community contributed the funds and Kabore-Lamport gave her time, creating over 100 care packages that she and Harvey Epstein distributed to health workers to thank them for their efforts. This year she has chosen two schools where her sons attended – The East Village Community School and the George Jackson Academy – for the same treatment. Calling the project “Teacher Appre-SHEA-tion “, she is hoping to raise enough cash to provide care packages for teachers in both schools, which will include her Workout Secret Serum, lip balm and all-natural soap.  

Although the lion’s share of the process falls on her shoulders, Kabore-Lamport makes sure to let her family contribute as well, with her husband in charge of packaging and the kids, now 14 and 17,  writing the notes that will accompany the gifts.

So, until the world changes, we can be thankful that we have people like Kabore-Lamport who spend their time and energy making sure that the truly important people among us get thanked for their invaluable service.

More info about Kabore-Lamport products can be found at www.kadidja.nyc and donations are being accepted at www.paypal.com/donate?hosted_button_id=Y8S95GGLXDSPL

Kadidja Kabore-Lamport pourong the hot lip balm into containers.(Photo by Bob Krasner)
Kadidja Kabore-Lamport selling her wares on a Sunday at Tompkins Square Park.(Photo by Bob Krasner)

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