In her uncles' house, in Feira de Santana, near Salvador, Bahia - in northeastern Brazil -, Mona Soares keeps one of her most precious treasures: a babosa plant that has been in her family for four generations. From the plant - one among the many species in her uncles' rich garden -, she extracts gel with which she produces a different range of natural cosmetics.
Another important raw material for the pharmacist turned entrepreneur who today lives in Salvador is dendê oil, a type of palm oil she purchases at the traditional "Feira de Sete Portas" from "Seu Tavinho", who brings it from the region of the "Recôncavo Baiano", where it's produced in small batches and in a sustainable way.
Mona mixes a wide range of other natural substances to these two rich raw materials to create cosmetics that are socially, economically and environmentally friendly - without ever forgetting her African heritage. "I work like an alchemist and I consider the plant's energy and spiritual benefits when producing", says Mona. "It's a way of telling a story".
After earning a degree in pharmacy from the Federal University of Bahia and working in other areas, Mona started Ewé Alquimias. The small business began producing natural cosmetics and selling products directly to customers. Soon enough, though, Mona realized that her customers, mostly women, didn't simply want to buy product, they wanted to learn how to produce their own cosmetics and become entrepreneurs themselves.
Today, Mona hardly sells cosmetics and mostly teaches other women how to produce their own products and become entrepreneurs. "It's empowering for a woman to make something that speaks to her traditions and respects her own, singular, beauty", says Mona. "Today, I use my story to inspire other women, black women, to live their dream of growing and fulfilling themselves".