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Mariama Camara: Beauty Brand Addressing the Industry’s Sustainability Challenge

Mariama Camara: Beauty Brand Addressing the Industry’s Sustainability Challenge

Ladderworks is a publishing platform of diverse picture books and an online curriculum with the mission to empower over a million kids to become social entrepreneurs. Our current series features interviews by our interplanetary journalist Spiffy with inspiring Social Entrepreneurs, Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Builders, and Changemakers who are advancing the UN SDGs. 

Spiffy here with the scoop on the entrepreneurial leaders of Planet Earth. As the only interplanetary journalist stationed on this blue planet, I’m thrilled to present this galactic exclusive with Mariama Camara, the founder and CEO of KANAFRIK. Let’s learn what’s happening there and how Mariama is making a positive impact in the world.

Spiffy: Hi Mariama, thanks a million for talking to me today. Tell me, what challenge are you addressing through KANAFRIK?

Mariama: Thanks for having me, Spiffy! KANAFRIK addresses the beauty industry’s sustainability challenges. We are empowering women producers and local farmers to reduce plastic waste through reusable bags and pouches. We uphold fair trade, offer refills, and provide clean beauty products that benefit both people and our planet. As Africa’s first sustainable and zero waste store, we craft clean products using 100% natural ingredients sourced from the African continent, offering the world a chance to experience the essence of Africa through our exquisite collection—suitable for all genders, skin tones, and hair types. Our products are available in New York City and Côte D’Ivoire. KANAFRIK is an inclusive brand. 

Spiffy: What motivates you to do it?

Mariama: My motivation is deeply rooted in my personal journey, my love for natural beauty products, sustainability, and my connection to my African heritage. For over 20 years, I have been using natural ingredients on my skin—some of which now find their way into KANAFRIK skincare products. The drive behind KANAFRIK comes from a desire to create a beauty brand that not only celebrates the riches of Africa, but also encourages the new generation and the diaspora to proudly embrace products MADE IN AFRICA. I wanted to invite consumers worldwide to join us in using high-quality products crafted with African ingredients. It’s a fusion of personal heritage and commitment to positive change that drives me to do what I do with KANAFRIK.

Spiffy: I love that! What would you say is the impact of your work?

Mariama: Africa is a magnificent continent with an immense beauty heritage. And it is my mission to share this legacy with the world. Knowing that our work supports local communities, empowers women, promotes sustainability, and preserves traditional beauty secrets. Our work also positively impacts the African continent by providing a place where local consumers can access clean beauty products and natural ingredients. The sustainability initiatives we’ve implemented within our company and in our store serves as an inspiration for others to embrace sustainable practices in their daily consumption and lifestyle.

Spiffy: Tell me about a recent organization milestone or initiative. What impact does it make on your community?

Mariama: On the UN International Day of Peace event at the United Nations Headquarters in New York on September 14th 2023, I proudly introduced the "Peace Collection" through my initiative Designs 4 Unity. This unique collaboration unites West African and Mexican craftsmanship from Mazehual, featuring handcrafted fabrics from Mariama Fashion Production, created by our West African artisans. The Peace Collection embodies diversity, heritage, and unity, aligning with UN SDGs 5, 1, 8, 13, and 16, promoting welfare and sustainability for both people and our planet. The full collection is launching in Spring/Summer 2024!

Spiffy: Is there anything else you would love to tell our audience?

Mariama: I'm truly passionate about the work I'm doing, whether it's our NGO, There is No Limit Foundation, a 501(c)(3) international nonprofit organization, Mariama Fashion Production, KANAFRIK, or Designs for Unity. My goal is always to make a positive impact on people's lives. On November 6th, 2023, we will be discussing Designs for Unity at Davines Crafted event and showcasing KANAFRIK products for the first time in the United States, and all guests will receive handcrafted tote bags made by Mariama Fashion Production's artisans and tailors, generously donated by Davines. Discover my work please follow us on Instagram: @kanafrik, @mariamafashionproduction, @designs4unity, and @mariamacamaraofficial_.

Spiffy: Thanks for speaking with me today, Mariama—it’s been an honor!

Mariama Camara, also known as Mariama Mounir Camara, is one of the most influential African women in fashion, philanthropy, and the beauty industry. Her groundbreaking work has earned widespread recognition, with prominent media highlighting her achievements. Notable features include appearances on CNN African Voice's "Changemakers," BBC News, TV5 Monde, and Forbes Africa. Power lists of 500 Most Influential Africans in the world. Featured for conscious fashion campaigns, positioning her, as showcased on Times Square billboards, among the ten women who are transforming fashion for people and the planet. She is the founder of MARIAMA FASHION PRODUCTION, KANAFRIK, DESIGNS 4 UNITY, and the co-founder of There is No Limit Foundation. (First published on the Ladderworks website on November 8, 2023.)

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily reflect those of Ladderworks LLC.

© 2023 Ladderworks LLC. Edited by Anushree Nande. Spiffy’s illustration by Shreyas Navare. For the Ladderworks digital curriculum to help K-3 kids advance the UN SDGs, visit Spiffy's Launchpad: Creative Entrepreneurship Workshops for K-3 Kids and their caregivers here.