For generations, we have farmed seaweed according to the rhythms of the moon. When the waters are low, we wade bare foot into the shallows to tend our crops. From the shore you can watch us carefully tie our young seaweed in, harvesting the plants that are ready and leaving those that are not for the ocean to nourish.
The Mamas first came together as a collective to empower and grow our ability to support ourselves. These things are not always easy on Zanzibar, where opportunities for employment are scarce and incomes are low– especially for women like us.
We have always known about the power of the seaweed we grow, through local knowledge passed down through generations. In our community, we know recipes for skin salves and remedies that have never been written down. But they still work every time
As we grew as a collective, word spread and demand for our products grew. We started getting interest from overseas. It was then we saw the potential to use our traditional knowledge to create a range of products that could share this gift with others Mwani Zanzibar was born.
As the first women in our village to be employed, we have gained valuable independence and become prominent members of our community. We are very proud to call ourselves the Mwani Zanzibar Mamas.
It takes a community to grow an idea like ours. Our team, from different walks of life, all contribute their energy and experience towards a common vision, enabling us to collectively grow and aspire further. As the Mamas, we have undertaken many years of training to formalise our skills, complementing our traditional knowledge with technological expertise and business acumen.
Every product created by Mwani Zanzibar has undergone years of rigorous clinical testing in partnership with some of the industry’s leading scientific researchers.
Living on an island such as Zanzibar, we are all too aware how fragile our planet is. That’s why it is our philosophy, our dream, to do everything we possibly can to create beautiful skincare that goes beyond the concept of sustainability.
It has taken time and patience to develop productive relationships with local suppliers who can provide the quality of raw materials we require. There will always be more we can do, as technology advances and new solutions become possible. We very much look forward to the challenge.
The world is waking up to what we have long believed: seaweed is a superpower that helps keep our natural systems balanced and nourished. Our scientifically formulated multi-seaweed concentrate, MW Macroalgae Extract, forms the foundation of every Mwani Zanzibar product.
Our seaweed is collected from small farms and wild harvested in clear, unpolluted waters around our island. Traditional ngalawa boats powered by the wind take us to collect the seaweed, where we cut only what we need.
Packed in sea water to keep it as fresh as possible, within an hour the harvest is taken to our production room to begin the drying process.
Our collection is handmade in small batches at our work center in Paje, Zanzibar. We use a combination of traditional and modern tools to make our creams, serums and soap bars.
We create extracts and concentrates from precise blends of indigenous African superfoods and unrefined oils. These nutrient-rich ingredients are all wild harvested locally. The short lead time between delivery and production means it is very common that our oils are only days old.
The methods of production that are best for skin often take more time and greater effort. Like the cold-press method we use for soaps. Did you know that each soap must cure for nine weeks before it is at its best?
Caring about our impact on the world applies as much to our packaging as it does our products. We have extensively researched all options, and use what we believe to be the best available right now.
Both our bottles and fulfilment packaging are made from 100% post-consumer recycled waste, outer packaging from 80% post-consumer recycled waste, and boxes are reused many times over. We are constantly looking out for ways to improve, and adopt new methods as they come to market.
First we dry the seaweed in a two-step process under controlled atmospheric conditions. Then, the alchemy begins! We crush the dried seaweed by hand at sub-zero temperatures to prevent the bioactive ingredients degrading, then agitate it for 24 hours.
The resulting solution is triple-filtered and then evaporated to create a highly concentrated extract, which we store immediately in cool, sterile conditions. Within 12 hours it will be used in our products, which means no need for any preservatives.
Formulation scientist and industry expert
Professor of Biochemistry and Microbiology
Professor of Phycology and Biochemistry