Part II: Shea Terra Organics Interview–with a very special mom

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In honor or Mother’s Day, I thought it was very appropriate to publish this post about a very special mom, a mom who received 11 hugs and kisses today, Tammie Umbel. A few days ago I was honored to interview, Tammie Umbel, CEO and founder of Shea Terra Organics. Why is this an honor, you might wonder? Tammie’s a little busy, with 11 children that she home schools and she runs a major company. I’d say her time is a wee bit valuable but the honor part also comes into play because at the end of my conversation with Tammie, I felt empowered as a woman. Here’s why…

Tammie began her first business at 18 in the textile industry but she didn’t like it. She didn’t like how cut throat it was. She told me it wasn’t her and that she couldn’t be creative. Tammie “thinks and breathes business” but not “money” but the ideas. She got out of the textile business and literally had a dream and that dream became her next business, bringing natural products from third world countries to the U.S. at fair prices.

Tammie is a pioneer of bringing Shea butter to the United States. This fruit from a tree comes from the savannah belt of Africa and is boiled or crushed. The fat that comes from this is Shea butter. Tammie formulates 100% of her products all by herself. They are her creations and she tests them and does the research. Tammie works closely with individuals and companies in Africa to insure fairness and protection of the environment and resources. She has her own Ethiopia Project that she gives a portion of her proceeds to. This project helps buy goats, support schools and feed orphans. Simply amazing!

Tammie has faced many uphill battles with fair trade prices, the politics of natural products and the competition. When many would just have thrown in the towel…Tammie continues to plow forward. She believes in what she is doing and the products she creates and formulates. She has even lost money because she refuses to raise the prices when it isn’t fair or couldn’t be obtained by all. To me that is honorable, standing by what you know is right.

Here are a few specific questions I asked Tammie and her answers:

A portion of your proceeds for each Shea Terra Organics’ product is donated to self-empowerment and environmental programs. How do you choose which organization to give to?

I have my own program, the Ethiopian Project. This helps buy goats, feed orphans and provide schooling. I prefer to not do organizations but you don’t know how much of the money is really helping. I like the Diane Fosse Fund though.

Tell me about parabens and your products shelf life.

They all have a shelf life of 1-2 years and they have a preservative in them but not parabens. Phenooxyethanol, caprylyl glycol is the preservative we use. If you combine water and oil, you have to have preservatives. You have to have your product properly preserved and not stink. I did a lot of research and we use the best.

What advice do you have for my Green and Clean Moms that are trying to have a family, go green and start or run a business?

I’m one of those moms who you either like what I say or you don’t. I don’t believe in sacrifices. If it’s important to me, I do it. I have never used a babysitter, only family members to help me watch the children. Women can get what they want when they know its right. They have to follow their heart and gut if it is good for others.

Alright, the burning question…you have 11 children and you don’t use a nanny or sitter so how do you do it?

I just do it. Sometimes they’re in the office with me and come to work. Some of them stay home. If it makes them happy it makes me happy. My resolution is to bring up healthy, happy, children. Sometimes it’s noisy but I try to keep them quiet. Ultimately you can hear the kids but I won’t bend my beliefs or passions for business. A lady got really mad once when my daughter answered the phone and wanted to talk to me. I said, no. If someone is going to get mad because a two year old picks up the phone, then that is silly.

Do any of your 11 children have an interest in the business?

They see the world like me. They see a leaf, they see a business. I’d like them to go into the medical field. Science is for the good, there is so much potential of using natural products and things from nature.

Tammie is inspirational with her drive, her business savvy, her motivation and her passion! Be sure not to miss the big Shea Terra Organics giveaway in the next post!!!

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