Wednesday 05 December 2018 | 2

Resilience through Banana Oils, Kadalys’ Ethical Entrepreneurship

Shirley Billot is the creator of the company Kadalys, who is very committed to the fight for both human and non-human animals and for the planet, in our own image. Its organic and vegan products based on banana oils, have received the One Voice label, a sign of quality and commitment. A first meeting.

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How was your brand Kadalys born?

The very first trigger was when my son was 6 months old, the conventional products that I was advised to treat his skin problems with only worsened his allergic reactions. It was only by resorting to traditional medicine from Martinique that he received relief, and also in the long run! It was enough just to use the fat part of the banana skin ... I have always been interested in the cosmetics and pharmacopoeia of the Caribbean, but there I could see how good and bad they were...

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« Kadalys is a brand of cosmetics based on banana oils, totally organic, vegan, not tested on animals, and which has just been labelled by One Voice! »
Shirley Billot

But more concretely, after several years in the metropolis where I studied, I decided to return to live in Martinique. On the spot, an impression of waste, both social and economic: the only possibilities open to people are either to undergo a system that is not profitable to them, or to leave.

"Neither to give in nor to leave"

The banana industry is doing extremely well in Martinique, it is our first source of income. But everything is exported. As often, one exploits at one place, and the riches do not return to those who create them. As the 2009 strike against the high cost of living lasted more than a month, people were and still are, for many, stuck between inequality and exports, without dreams or prospects.

It does not correspond with my idea of the world. I could not do it. In the Overseas, we represent diverse issues for France and Europe, anyway! I do not know what stirred in me first, but I found the way to get involved in the transformation and the future of our society, with my roots and with these vital forces.

You have managed to link sustainable development and a circular economy, is that it?

Yes! This banana growing industry creates a lot of losses. It's an incredible mess: 40,000 tons of bananas are thrown away! Whether single bananas, or those slightly damaged, the sector is not discrete either in their actions. To joke, I call them the ugly ones and the singles ones. They will not sell on the shelves of the supermarkets or grocery stores. And yet, realize, at one euro per kilo, they are wasted with very high added value! From there was born my idea of transforming this waste into wealth, using it and to give it value right on the spot.

"finding value in the ugly and the singles"

My ecological awareness and my sense of enterprise merged at that time, for the benefit of my region. Everyone must act to their measure, for the planet, for animals, for us: to avoid waste, unemployment and poverty, and to respect others. This is my contribution. It was necessary for me to launch this idea.

We then carried out a study as part of a thesis at the faculty of pharmacy of Montpellier, in partnership with CIRAD (the French organization for agronomic research and international cooperation for the sustainable development of tropical and Mediterranean regions) and banana producers in Martinique. It lasted five years. At the end of it, we knew exactly what virtues banana oils retained, and their variations by variety. Subsequently, either I had a future in an industrial group or I started my own business. I did not hesitate for a long time. We have found authenticity and traditional knowledge to enrich with current knowledge.

What are the qualities of the banana oils that you use in your products?

Depending on the part of the plant and the type of banana used, different uses are possible. But banana oils, green, yellow or pink with purple skin, are more or less fat, and are full of various qualities depending on which one chooses: soothing, depigmenting, detoxifying, anti-aging ... They are very rich in antioxidants (up to twenty times more than argan oil or olive oil, fifty times more than rose oil), DHEA, phytosterols ... They are perfect for skins that are sensitive or allergic which need to be hydrated and soothed (eczema, psoriasis), they are restorative (burns, scars, stretch marks), detoxifying (antipollution, acne). All products of Kadalys start from this beautiful plant, the banana.

Why have these natural virtues remained so poorly known so far?

In fact, in Australia, banana molecules have always been used in medicine against eczema, psoriasis, scars, burns, age spots, acne, and so on. There, this medicine is not described as traditional, with all the suspicions of charlatanism or superstition that can be put there. For a long time in Cuba, the active ingredients of plants growing on the spot (like guava for example) have been exploited.

But in Martinique, this is explained by a rooting about in the history and culture of the Caribbean. At the time of slavery in France, the royal ordinance of 1736 forced every slave owner to plant 25 banana trees per slave and to give them the opportunity to cultivate them, to prevent them from starving. That's why we learned to exploit everything in the banana, to the leaves for cooking or weaving hats, bags, and of course it has become the most important plant in our region! But on the other hand, traditional medicine was forbidden, from the period of slavery until 2011! We could not practice it or even write recipes on it, it was only passed on as through the family. No wonder I did not even know about the virtues of bananas until adulthood. It is the resilience of a people of a French department we are talking about here.

Why did you seek the One Voice label?

My mother has always been part of a strong environmental lobby on Martinique. On the water, the environment, animals, and I have always sympathetic. It's common sense for me. It is important that my products are both organic, have no negative impact on animals, that even the packaging is thought of.

For me, the One Voice label reassures the consumer even more about my commitment and that of the brand. Yes, Kadalys makes wealth from waste, is based on the circular economy, and sustainable development, but that's not enough to say this, it has to be proven. Many customers asked for an extra guarantee on our word. This label is a validation of absence of tests on animals. And the tiger of One Voice is an image that I like especially as it is voluntary and biting, it does not pity!

Jessica Lefèvre-Grave
Hr blog

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Comments 2

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lara | Sunday 09 December 2018

Très chouette interview! J'aime beaucoup cette marque dont j'ai déjà testé quelques produits. L'huile pour le corps est divine, les crèmes visage sont ultra hydratantes. Je la conseille.

Tiphaine | Thursday 06 December 2018

"les produits conventionnels qu'on me conseillait pour traiter ses problèmes de peau ne faisaient qu'aggraver ses réactions allergiques." => Exactement ! Beaucoup de saletés sont proposées en pharmacies et largement prescrites par les médecins qui paraissent aveugles (ou vendus, c'est pareil, du moment qu'ils encaissent...).

Entretien très intéressant et instructif. Bravo à vous madame, heureusement qu'il existe des gens comme vous, c'est un peu rassurant.