Giving Back series: Botanical Me

Greetings everyone!

Botanical Me sisters

Jill and Carly: Botanical Me

I started this Giving Back series because philanthropy is inherently part of my value system. I find it fascinating to learn about how men and women of the Green Beauty community use their platform to help those in need. Today, I want to share the mission of two humble and selfless women, who, in reality, are heroines of the modern day (they just don’t wear capes!).  I’m so proud and honored to feature the work of my friends and sisters, two beautiful souls:  Jill Hansey and Carly Lodkey,  sisters and founders of  Botanical Me.

Their brand offers natural, plant-based beauty and body care that heal, inspire and most of all, give back! Botanical Me is a beautiful range of beauty oils, pure essential oils, lip balms, and pulse-point roll-ons. In addition, the brand offers gift items such as chocolate, tea, and honey imported from Africa. Each skincare product leaves your skin protected and nourished, while your spirits are calmed and renewed. Through Botanical Me, Jill and Carly literally save lives: they have a strong partnership with Malaria No More, an organization dedicated to eradicate malaria in the world. The “ME” in Botanical Me actually has a double meaning. First, ME stands for Malaria Eradication, which is connected to their charity work to stop malaria deaths. Then, the “me” is also about a person’s journey to better health and awareness of toxins and chemicals in beauty products.

Botanical me set 2

Botanical Me’s range of products.

How it all began…

Jill and Carly had already been operating their retail store in San Diego for 8 years before Botanical Me was born. One evening Jill was having a conversation about malaria with her husband, who is a native of Nigeria and a malaria survivor. She had a “light bulb” moment that she and her sister could use their business as a platform to help people.

It is wonderful! We’re honored to be a part of their charity and contribute to their life-saving work.  There are so many blessings:  a broader world view, greater humility, increased empathy, a feeling of being part of something bigger, meeting other cool people from all walks of life who are also inspired to make a change. Just thinking that something we have done has saved even one child’s life and given a family a healthier tomorrow is beyond words.

– Jill & Carly, founders of Botanical Me

What is malaria ?

iStock malaria kills

Credits: iStock

Malaria is a blood disease caused by a mosquito bite (Plasmodium parasite) and can be transmitted from person to person. It affects the lives of over 200 million people around the world every year.

Symptoms: fever, headaches, vomiting, if treatment is not administered, illnesses such as anemia, hypoglycemia and death can occur.


Credits: (logo)

malaria-2 standard tribune com

Child with severe malaria symptoms. Credits:

According to

  • Malaria is one of the top 3 killers in the world;
  • Every 60 seconds, a child dies of malaria, it means 453 000 children per year, so that’s 1 300 kids who have their lives cut short every day because of a mosquito bite!

Why it also concerns you…

If you think you’re safe, and therefore think to yourself it isn’t your problem because your country isn’t a malaria risk zone, think again! This matter concerns ALL of us. In 2013, there were an estimated 198 million cases of malaria worldwide, mostly women and children. Although malaria was eliminated from the US in 1951, MNM  makes a census of 1500 cases annually caused by returning travelers.  Because of what we’ve been shown in the media, we often associate Africa to poverty and death.  However, it is a beautiful continent, the second largest one in the world actually.  Africa offers such a wide range of natural resources, some of them, such as shea butter, are included in our coveted green beauty products. It’s our duty and responsibility to protect that land and its people.


Jill in Africa

There is hope!

So, you know the bad news about malaria, it’s lethal.  Now, onto the good news, malaria is not only curable, but it is a preventable disease! concurs that over the last decade, malaria mortality rates have fallen 58% among children under the age of 5.  That’s good, but the goal is to complete eradicate malaria. Jill and Carly often travel to Africa to import natural ingredients and they donate 10% of their profits to Malaria No More. The proceeds directly impact the daily lives of those they seek to help. Here’s how…

Mosquito_Netting wikipedia

Mosquito nets prevent from getting bitten at night. Image: Wikipedia

The funds go towards: 

  • providing diagnostic tests;
  • buying medicine and treatment; did you know that a full course of malaria treatment costs only 1$ and can cure a child in 1 to 3 days?
  • buying mosquito nets; don’t forget that malaria is caused by a mosquito bite, and the Plasmodium parasite bites at night between 9pm and 5am, so nets are an important prevention tool;
  • creating education programs.

The sister duo chose to partner with MNM because this organization has focused strategy and the widespread government, media and pharmaceutical relationships in Africa that are needed.

Why helping Botanical Me is very personal to me…

Radiologie cathéter malaria post

I’m getting prepped for a femoral venous catheterization, before an apheresis treatment.

I was born with a genetic blood disease commonly called Sickle Cell anemia (SCA). Essentially, unlike normal round/oval red blood cells, mine are shaped like crescent moons, semicircular (hence the name “sickle”, a sickle is a tool made with a crescent-shaped blade). Normal red cells travel easily through the blood vessels to take the oxygen to every part of the body.  However, my sickled cells get stuck in the blood vessels, which means the oxygen doesn’t get through. This causes a lot of deep chronic pain and it damages my bones, my muscles and my organs.  Sickle cell anemia is a disease mostly diagnosed in patients of African descent.

So, what does that have to do with malaria?

While my illness can be debilitating, it confers me somewhat of a protection against malaria. How? It is very complex. Researchers are still trying to understand the mechanisms that create SCA patients’s resistance against malaria.  Let’s just say that my sickled red blood cells are not “healthy” or viable enough for the parasite to implant and lodge itself in my bloodstream.

Final thought…

Every time I think about Jill and Carly, I am reminded that this life is not about my ego, but that it’s about finding my purpose and answering my higher calling. When they are not are not busy saving lives, the Botanical Me duo is learning more about the wonders of nature. Women like them make the world go round! I urge you to support their brand and their cause, your kindness will save lives. When you purchase a product from the brand, you’re taking care of yourself (at a budget-friendly price, might I add), but more importantly, you are saving a child, a woman or a man’s life. Please give back!


Until next time, take care!

Alex xo

To support MalariaNoMore, click here. Let’s defeat malaria! World Malaria Day is April 25th 2015.

Note: all information and statistics on malaria are sourced from MalariaNoMore and CDC

Images, unless stated otherwise, are courtesy of BotanicalMe.


Giving Back: Jacq’s Organics

Greetings beauties!

They say there is more joy to give than to receive…

I love the Holidays, but it’s always bittersweet for me.  I feel so grateful to have a family that loves me, a roof over my head, food on the table, etc.  But it’s not the case for everyone…  My heart aches for those who don’t have all of that…especially for the Holidays. I started the Giving Back series because I wanted to highlight green beauty brands who do charitable work all year long, not just for special occasions.  I think kindness should be an inherent part of all of our lives.

Today’s Giving Back post is about Barbara Jacques’s philanthropy.  She is the founder of Jacq’s Organics, a family owned all-natural brand with products suited for all the family.  I have been using the Sweet Orange line for almost a year now…and I love it.  Barbara is special to me for many reasons, but also because we are both Haitians and share most of the same values about life.

Giving Back

Everytime you purchase a product from Jacq’s Organics, proceeds go to an organization close to Barbara’s heart:  J/P HRO (Haitian Relief Organization) for which actor Sean Penn is a Board Member. This organization has the mission of helping the many thousands and thousands of Haitians affected by the 2010 Earthquake.  J/P HRO  helps Haitians to transition to resilient, sustainable and prosperous communities. Jacq’s Organics also donates 1% of its annual sales to several non-profit agencies. That is what I call: Kindness in action!

Barbara Jacques, founder of Jacq's Organics Credits: B. Jacques

Barbara Jacques, founder of Jacq’s Organics
Credits: B. Jacques

I asked Barbara to talk to me about the specifics of J/P HRO and how she practices kindness in her personal life.  This woman is a beauty, inside and out!

Here’s what she had to say…


1.  First, how would you describe Jacq’s Organics? 

Jacq’s Organics is a family-friendly product line that’s hand-crafted from raw, environmentally source ingredients that serve the purpose of providing skincare that’s free from harmful harsh preservatives. We take pride in being a cruelty-free brand that does more then give back but also helps make a difference and shed light on the importance of living green.

Jacqs sweet orange

Credits: Jacq’s Organics

2.  What sets you apart from the other green beauty brands?

I realize that there are lots of green beauty brands. But what makes Jacq’s Organics different is that it was created when I learned I had an ovarian tumor while pregnant. Even though I lived a green lifestyle, what I learned is that beauty products and even the food I ate contributed to the growth of my tumor. There are many factors including lifestyle, family history and environmental factors that affect our body. This made me re-evaluate and learn about what it was I put in my body and on my skin.

My experience also taught me to appreciate life including the mot simplest things which translates in our product line. More importantly, I’d like to utilize my story and my experience to share with women that are currently battling an illness to stay strong and fight for your life. You are not alone and you do not have to suffer in silence, but instead fight for the life you want.

This is what makes Jacq’s Organics different. It’s not just about skin care or bath products.

3.  What is your motto or philosophy when it comes to giving back? Why is giving back important to you?

I have childhood memories of my mother making dinner after working long work hours for my siblings and I and then feeding the homeless that lived in our neighborhood. We didn’t have much; honestly, we didn’t have anything and she was a single mom, but she always helped those in need. So, giving back for me is not just about giving but supporting our community and helping those in need. Giving back is important to me because there were days and holidays where we didn’t have much. I know first hand how it feels to not have and the huge difference and impact giving back has. This explains why I worked in non-for-profit because you can help individuals in so many ways. Plain and simple.

Credits: J/P HRO

Credits: J/P HRO

4.  Why did you choose to get involved with J/P HRO? 

We choose to donate to this organization for several reasons. In addition to their focus on medicine, community development, engineering and construction, and relocation for the millions of people, there is a genuine effort to save lives and build sustainable programs.  Even after the media stopped coverage in Haiti, this organization continues to show and proves its efforts and you can see the positive impact it has.

Credits: J/P HRO

Credits: J/P HRO

The second reason I choose to be a part of a charity connected to Haiti is because I am Haitian. I’m a first-born generation Haitian with family living in Haiti. I see that many of the decisions made by the government and aid given from charities not only impact the individuals living in the country but it also impacts the families of the individuals living abroad. Haiti is a place that I hold near and dear to my heart.


Funding for Education is vital. Credits: J/P HRO

Funding for Education is vital.
Credits: J/P HRO


5.  How do the funds help?

The funds donated to this organization go towards providing medical needs, camp and relocation management, creating community infrastructure, education, engineering and construction. But remember, money is not the only way to help this organization. Individuals can help by spreading the word, volunteering and by taking action. One way individuals can take action is by creating a local fund-raiser to help the individuals working hard to help rebuild the country.


6.  You have children, so how do you instill the values of giving back and of kindness ?

Giving back is very important to my husband and I. I believe the best way to teach is to show. I have a 3-year-old toddler and we don’t buy her toys. However, she has a room filled with toys from family members and friends as gifts. I became overwhelmed with the excessive amount of toys, so I sat down with her and explained to that she had an excess amount of toys and there are children with no toys.

I explained to her that we are going to be giving some of her toys to those children who didn’t have toys. She agreed and starting sorting through her toys. We volunteer, serve on boards and mentor under privileged kids. My daughter will learn from my actions.

Personal note…

I was born in Canada, and I’ve never been to Haiti, but it’s dear to me because my parents are Haitians, so I was raised with their values.  Haiti was called “La Perle des Antilles” it’s french for “Pearl of the Carribean“.  Haiti hasn’t always been the poor devastated country it is, it used to be a place praised by many for vacations and getaways, and it was is a wonderful place.  The media portrays a negative image of Haiti, but make no mistake, Haiti even though ravaged by nature, is a beautiful and resourceful island.  Don’t believe everything you see on television. Haiti isn’t solely about poverty and hunger… even faced with adversity, there’s joy, warmth and faith. Haitians are not only resilient and hopeful, but they are determined to overcome whatever comes. The people make the country, not the other way around!

Here is an image of the Haitian Presidential Palace before and after the Earthquake that shook the nation on January 12th, 2010.

Presidential Palace (before and after) Credits: LaDepê

Presidential Palace (before and after)
Credits: LaDepê


If you want to know more and donate to J/P HRO, please go to:

If you’re interested in Jacq’s Organics, go to:


Don’t forget, the true spirit of Christmas is selfless!  A simple gesture could make a big difference in the life of someone else…and in yours!


Happy Holidays to all!


Alex xo

Green beauty meets excellence: the EcoDivaBeauty online shop story

Greetings beauties!

Ever wondered how your favorite shop came about?  Well, wonder no more, here’s the story behind one of my favorite green beauty online shop: Eco Diva Beauty! Grab some herbal tea, sit down and relax!

 The Original EcoDiva: Charlene Swanson

Though it launched only a year ago (March 8th 2013), our beloved, most trusted online green shop was born in its founder’s heart, Charlene Swanson (aka The Original EcoDiva), almost a decade ago… (that’s 10 years in the making, so don’t give up on your dreams!)

I’m not exaggerating when I say that Charlene’s life story reads like a novel!  When she shared her story with me, I was so moved, I kept picturing who would play her, if her life was to be adapted in a movie…and believe me, it should!  For me, it feels like Eco Diva Beauty has been here forever.  It is where I placed my very first order (September, 24th 2013) when I turned to natural products over a year ago.  The shop as well as its founders have a special place in my heart.  Their story is so beautiful, so I wanted to share.

We can all relate to having a dream, and Charlene is the perfect example of the modern woman who fought to make hers come true…and did it ever !

Humble Beginnings

 As a young girl, Charlene was ordering expensive skincare and makeup from the” big city”.  It wasn’t natural, but that’s where her love for beauty products began.  She did look for natural products but didn’t find the level of quality she was looking for.   She grew up surrounded by nature, up on the Alaskan Highway, so she never questioned its beauty and had an inherent respect for it. Her family lived in an old Army camp converted to a sawmill and, naturally, she grew up to be a … lumber trader!  And then, she moved to the big city. Despite the fact that lumber trading is a traditionally reserved male turf, she became very successful, eventually creating her own lumber company, which allowed her to care for her 2 daughters she was raising alone, as a single mother. She was also a pioneer in the industry because she led the way in terms of only selling wood from sustainable managed forests (FSC Certified).  Still, she realized her passions and her profession weren’t in alignment.

Charlene Swanson, founder of Eco Diva Beauty

Charlene Swanson, founder of Eco Diva Beauty (photo credits: Garcy Fry)

Being the connoisseur she is, Charlene was frustrated by the unavailability of proper organic and luxury beauty products (no Kjaer Weis back then!!). She often thought of creating her own line, but she knew she wouldn’t be content with that alone, knowing her tendency to search for new things.  She remembers vividly when her dream took seed in her heart.  Eco Diva Beauty was born out of the desire to see women make conscious decisions about their well-being (beauty, skincare, wellness) without having to compromise their health and the environment.  As a true trailblazer and visionary, Charlene then had an epiphany.  She knew right in that instant she would move heaven and earth to find  the most eco-friendly, luxurious and cutting edge products and have them in one beautiful location.  She wanted busy people like her who also love the planet to be able to find their beauty and skincare products in one place. She thought to herself: “I’m such a Diva!” and because all divas have alter-egos (just ask Beyoncé!), hers responded: “well, at least, I’m an ECO-diva!” And this is how the name ECODIVA was found.  Would you believe me if I told you Charlene Swanson, self-proclaimed EcoDiva, owner of the most prestigious online ecoshop, did not trust technology back then?  So she headed out to the Registrars office to get the “ecodiva” name registered.

As it is often the case when pursuing a dream, the daily struggles of reality set in and damper our hopes.  So, it did for Charlene, until she began to exhibit physical and emotional side-effects of her unsatisfying life. After her doctor wrote her a prescription that said “Deepak Chopra”, she spent a week with him at the Deepak Chopra Centre in California.  There, she came to understand that we, humans, are creators of our own life with the assistance of a higher power, however we choose to call it.

Mother-Daughter duo

She then enlisted the help of her daughter, you might have heard of her (ha ha!!), her name is Garcy Fry (you’ll get to read all about her in an upcoming feature).  The pair of them successfully manage EcoDiva Beauty.  I think I speak for many of us when I say that the Eco Diva Beauty online shop has set a high bar of excellence for all online shops by raising and sustaining ethical, moral, social and environmental standards.  Although we should be responsible for our own health by knowing and researching what’s in our products, we don’t all have time for that.  And that’s where shops like EcoDivaBeauty come in.  You can trust their commitment and their passion for our community.  You can count on them for answers.  When I shop at Eco Diva, I have peace of mind, I know that every product, from every brand has been researched and approved by the mother-daughter duo.

Here’s what you should know about Charlene Swanson…

She’s EVERY woman, but she’s also in a league of her own.  She’s a hard-working woman and quite the entrepreneur (with 2 companies to her name)!  She’s an adventurer, a go-getter, a dreamer, an achiever, a story-teller, a lover of nature and sees beauty all over creation.  She is truly and remarkably beautiful from head to toe and from the inside out.  She is courage and strength.  She is bold and daring.  She’s also level-headed and determined.  I gave you the short version of Eco Diva (yes, short!)!  I know we all look at Eco Diva Beauty and think we’d all want to own such a shop… Don’t think for a second that running a shop is a smooth-sailing affair! Even now, with the success of her online shop, Charlene still juggles both her sustainable lumber trading and the Eco Diva shop.  She remains humble and pragmatic, knowing full well that her first company allowed her to fund her second one. Also, she doesn’t think that she has is made; she thrives to do and to give the best everyday, because she wants the best for her Eco Divas…that’s you, you, you, you and I!

I truly love Eco Diva and it’s so much more than a business.  It’s an energy for beauty in all things inside and out, physical and meta physical.
I want women to be empowered and to know that they can affect the world in such a significant way by just being women.  Most women dictate what the family consumes and purchases and this gives them a powerful vote for our environment worldwide each and every day.”
                                                                                                                                                        – Charlene Swanson, founder of Eco Diva Beauty
Did Charlene’s story inspire you to keep dreaming and have faith in life? Have you ever shopped at Eco Diva Beauty?  
Let us know what you think? Here’s your opportunity to let the Eco Diva Beauty team know your questions, needs, concerns…  and while you’re at it, give them some love!  Show some gratitude for their hard work!
We Heart You, Charlene! (Ok, you too Garcy!)
Until next time…
Arabesque xo







Giving Back: Kahina Giving Beauty

Greetings natural beauties!


“Beauty catches the eye, but kindness catches the heart.”  

– Author unknown


Kahina Giving Beauty

I have started a series on the issue of Giving back and I’m featuring several brands who make it their mission to help those in need.  Obviously, when I think of green beauty and giving back, my mind goes straight to… Kahina Giving Beauty! The name says it all, giving back is the premise on which founder Katharine L’Heureux created her brand.

Fun fact about Katharine: her last name means “the happy one” in French.


A trip to Morocco

It all began in 2007, when Katharine took a trip to Morocco and fell in love with the story and the incredible power of argan oil.  She loved it so much, she decided to create a pure natural line of skincare in which argan oil would be at the heart of every product.  Kahina Giving Beauty was born.  We all know and love her products, we can all agree that her argan oil is the purest and of the highest quality, but I really want to focus on the humanitarian aspect of the brand.

Kahina, the Queen of Berber women

Did you know “Kahina” is the name of the Queen of Berber women?

What is unique about KGB (Kahina Giving Beauty) it’s that their philanthropy is directly connected to their product. Argan oil comes from the kernels of the argan tree and the process of extracting the oil can be time-consuming and labor intensive for the Berber women who work at it: it takes up to 8 hours to produce 1 liter of oil.  That’s a lot of nut cracking! Harvesting argan oil creates social and economical opportunities for the Berber women, and Katharine makes sure they are fairly compensated and treated with dignity.

It is clear to me that Katharine L’Heureux (means “Happy” in French, by the way) has developed a deep sentiment of reverence and admiration for her women.  That is the perfect example of a woman empowering other women…as it should be!  It doesn’t matter where you come from, women should be supportive of one another, and when you help women, you help children and families, that’s what a community is about!


Giving Beauty

Kahina Giving Beauty gives mainly through:

  • its own foundation, created by Katharine, where she donates money directly to the 46 women of her cooperative. Thanks to that foundation, her women and their families are able to get access to drinking water, something we take for granted everyday. Katharine also purchased sheeps so that the women would have dairy and wool for their weaving. The women also get solar ovens: so no argan tree is cut for firewood not to mention it’s also a safer alternative to smoky cooking fires that can contribute to diseases.


  • Education For All Morocco (EFA): this organization provides schooling for girls who wouldn’t have an education past 3rd grade because high schools are not financially accessible for their parents. The schools are also located too far from where they live. Thanks to the EFA, the girls in rural Morocco can complete their education, have free rooms in boarding houses, they also get school uniforms and academic material. As a high school teacher, I think Education is a right, not a luxury.  Please support this cause.  Note:  For the rest of September, when you buy KGB’s argan oil (30ml or 100ml), 100% of the profits go to EFA (only here).  Hurry! This could be your chance to try the brand, or just an opportunity to give…just because!


  • High Atlas Foundation: the mission of this foundation includes several projects to help disadvantaged communities in Morocco.  They address issues like organic agriculture, clean energy, youth and women’s programs, cultural diversity and more. Because the harvesting of argan oil insures an economic resource for Moroccan communities, KGB teamed up with the HFA to plant more argan trees. This initiative also protects the integrity of the nuts. They have planted 200 argan trees in  nurseries this year.


Kindness is beautiful…and always in!

For me, Kahina Giving Beauty evokes respect, kindness and unity.  I salute Kahina’s Givng Beauty’s mission.  It inspires me to do the same, I just want to get up and get out of my comfort zone. But as I’ve said before, giving back doesn’t have to be some grand gesture, it only has to come from the heart. This is a brand I want to support because it’s about women, it’s about giving, it’s about being open to others and…it’s about skincare! My favorite things! Now, I know everytime I buy one of KGB’s product, it will be absolutely life-changing for my own skin, but mostly for women in Morocco.


Warm Regards,

Arabesque xo






Giving Back: Green Brands that Give Back!

Greetings !


Giving Back. It is such an important issue, and more than ever, humanity needs compassion and generosity.  In this series, I want to feature Green Beauty brands that give back no matter what month or time of the year it is; brands who make it their mission to help those in need, whether it’s next door or all over the world.

giving-back2 colors winston churchill

Here’s a reality check: we are NOT all born with equal opportunities, equal chances.  In some parts of the world, men, women and children lack the basic resources we ALL take for granted.  Hunger, poverty, AIDS, wars, violence, illness, abuse, etc. We sometimes wonder how we can help, how we can get involved.  We often feel powerless and irrelevant to the injustices of this world. The truth is: we can ALL do something, it doesn’t matter how big or how little it is: some people volunteer for cancer patients or give blood, others help out at soup kitchens, some might donate money, there are so many people in need, therefore so many ways to get involved.  If there’s anything I learned from giving back, it is that I receive a lot more than I give. That’s the beauty of giving back. The lessons are valuable and priceless!  Of course, it would be easier to do nothing and let the government take care of it, it would be easier to try to rationalize everything and stay within our comfort zone, remain in our comfortable lives.

Green Beauty and Giving Back go hand in hand…

If you’re part of the green beauty community, it’s because, somehow you care.  You care about the planet, you care about your health, you care about people, you care about life.  Believe it or not, using natural products has transformed me into an even more caring person.  Indeed, I’ve developed an eco-conscious mind as well as an ethical mind, making me a responsible consumer.  As a beauty blogger, I love to discover new products, but when I know that the cream or lotion I lather myself with also helps someone in need, it gives me peace, purpose and a sense of accomplishment.  Isn’t it empowering to know that the profits of the luxurious mask you bought to pamper yourself will feed a child or will help a woman get a vaccine that will save her life? These are merely examples of what can happen if we use our money wisely. If we’re going to be consumers and buy, why not do it with others in mind? Just imagine the impact it would have in the world, if we put our money where it counts, if we purchased products from brands that give back! Just imagine!

In this series, I want to celebrate and feature the philanthropy of brands I love …

  • Organic Bath co.;
  • Jacq’s Organics;
  • Kahina Giving Beauty;
  • Lina Hanson;
  • Pour Le Monde Perfumes;
  • CVSkinlabs;
  • Botanical Me;
  • Graydon;
  • Province Apothecary;
  • Balanced Guru;
  • Au Naturale Glow
  • online shop EcoDiva Beauty;
  • and more to come as I discover more brands in alignement with my values.

note: Eco Diva Beauty is an online shop who has a wonderful Giving Back program, so I thought I’d include it.

Stay tuned, and get to know how your favorite brands are changing the world!  I hope you join me!


What does Giving Back mean to you? How do you give back? Share your thoughts with me!



Arabesque xo