By Annie Tran
Photo by Wendy Qiu
Time to lather up, boys and girls. A new student-made shea butter business has come to town. Junior Monisha White has recently jump-started a company by taking over a portion of her mother’s company and creating her own product called Monisha™ shea butter. “My mom, Esther Gokhale, created the Gokhale method, and I have always looked up to her for having [her own] business,” White wrote in an e-mail. “I enjoyed watching my mother prepare shea butter for her health center. She was busy with many other aspects of her company, and was not able to devote a significant amount of time on [shea butter]. Intrigued by the idea of starting my own company and by shea butter itself, I offered to adopt the operation.” And thus, White’s company was born. She will be selling the Monisha™ shea butter for $22.95 at www.egwellness.com/shea-butter. Each tin contains eight fluid ounces of shea butter.
White has used shea butter for many years and has experienced its healing attributes firsthand. “I have observed my mother preparing batches of shea butter,” White wrote. “So I knew the basics on how to prepare it myself and researched it myself as well.” Through her research, White learned that shea butter is made mainly in Africa through an arduous process that takes over 20 hours. According to White, the process starts out with women in Africa collecting nuts from a particular tree that exclusively grows in Africa called the karite tree. They then have to extract the kernels and go through a difficult procedure involving cooking, drying, grinding and kneading them into a thick paste-like butter. This viscous material is then melted down and left to solidify into shea butter. “Since most of this [process] happens in Africa and not carried out in the United States, I order shea butter in bulk and melt it down myself,” White wrote. “I have had to experiment with my process and perfect my method so that the butter solidifies evenly and is ready to be sold.”
There are many benefits to White’s product. “Shea butter has a lot of natural vitamins and healing aspects that are extremely beneficial to your skin,” she wrote. “It’s a great remedy for dry or irritated skin, chapped lips, scars, burns, etc. The shea butter I sell is all 100 percent natural and unrefined, so there are no chemicals and it’s rich in vitamins.” Many shea butter products in the U.S. are heavily processed and full of chemicals, which rids the butter of its innate vitamins and healing abilities that purely derived shea butter retains. “It’s a really good moisturizer, much better than store brands,” junior Kieran Gallagher said.
White advertises her company through a PR firm and has had websites such as About.com and several other teen fashion websites contact her about her product. Responses to her product have been positive. “My family is very supportive of my business, and my mom’s especially thrilled with my taking up this project,” White wrote. “Most of my friends are really excited and intrigued by the idea of it. Right now, I mostly sell my product to my friends and family who are interested. Eventually, I will try to sell it through local health food stores such as Trader Joe’s, Mollie Stone’s or even Whole Foods.”