Mythology and Ethos
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Still I Rise, Stay Moisturized
Petty Butter is a Chicago-based handmade skincare line featuring moisturizing shea butter mixes and Blacksoaps. I, Itunuoluwa Ebijimi also known as “Petty” or by my DJ alias “The Wife of Wrath,” started experimenting with shea butter recipes in 2016 after a family trip to Lagos, Nigeria. I was inspired by women in various markets across Lagos selling shea butter, Blacksoap, locally made cosmetics, andimported products. After bringing back a mass of shea butter home to Chicago, I dove into researching the rich history of the shea nut, carrier oils, essential oils, and global cultural traditions of handcrafted cosmetics. This research and a commitment to quality ingredients are the cornerstone of Petty Butter’s foundations.
Since the age of 4, I’ve lived in Chicago and struggled with dry sensitive skin, especially during these dreadful midwest winters. Like many people, I didn’t do a lot of research into my products before I bought them. I either used what my mother provided for the house or used what was marketed to me as a young Black woman. When I started researching cosmetic products in 2016, I discovered that products marketed toward Black women were more likely to contain toxic and hazardous ingredients than those marketed toward white women. I also discovered that Black women were 2-3 times more likely to develop fibroids than their white counterparts, partially attributed to widespread use of relaxers among Black women. The urgency of making Petty Butter and the need to educate my community about skincare become more immediate. Our skin is the largest organ in the body. It is our first barrier of protection. It is also the first characteristic noted by the human eye. Before I started Petty Butter, I did not appreciate the significance of the wellbeing of my skin in my daily life. It dawned on me that Petty Butter could be a necessary effective resource with the potential to facilitate healing in people’s lives.
Petty Butter’s different shea butter mixes are made with a variety of carrier and essential oils. Each mix has a different consistency for body, face, and hair in order to avoid heaviness or buildup. Shea butter is the base of all my products. The shea nut has been cultivated in West, Central, and East Africa since as early as 100 AD. Like olive oil in the Mediterranean and Middle East, argan oil in Morocco, or neem oil in India, shea butter has been produced communally for hundreds of years and is a multi-functional nutrient-rich resource. Shea butter contains vitamin A, oleic acid, stearic, linoleic acid, and more. In addition to nourishing the skin, shea butter is also edible. It can be used as an oil, dressing, or spread. The shea butter caterpillars, that feed on the leaves of the shea tree, can also be harvested and roasted for a protein-rich meal. The adaptability of the shea nut challenged me to embrace the versatility of Petty Butter. Petty Butter can help retain hydration and heal acne, scars, rashes, eczema, and chronic skin issues across a variety of different skin types. It can also be integrated into a daily routine, allowing a moment to be intentional with yourself and mentally prepare for the day. Petty Butter can also be used for extended moments of intimacy with yourself or with a partner. You could give yourself a pep talk in the mirror while covering yourself with Petty Butter. Petty Butter can be used as a pleasure conductor with yourself and a partner. Petty Butter has its own infinity of uses. Charge Petty Butter with intentions and its benefits are manyfold.
In today’s globalized world, villages across Africa have used shea butter production and exportation as a tool of economic agency, a means to provide for themselves and their family. Through Petty Butter, I am privileged to be able to connect to those communities and the long history of shea butter. This heightened sense of interconnectedness motivates me to strive for quality and fairly sourced ingredients. Every ingredient has an origin story. The hands responsible for growing, harvesting, producing, and processing materials and goods often belong to people in so-called “developing” nations, who actually make up the majority of the world. By being attentive to where I source my ingredients, I can not only provide better quality healing skincare to my community, but I can also support my global community as a citizen of the world.