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Published on May 4, 2012
I gathered up all of the Ojon we have purchased over the years. Anyone care to guess how much all of this Ojon costs?
More About Ojon:
Launched in December 2003 with the popular Ojon Restorative Hair Treatment, the company now sells shampoo, conditioner, styling cream, shine serum and volumizing foam made with Ojon oil.
Denis laughs when he recalls that first trip to Honduras to find the Miskito tribe that sold his wife's grandmother the Ojon paste. He embarked on a five-hour ride in a rundown single-propeller plane that landed on a dirt road in the middle of nowhere. From there they hiked for two hours before chancing upon the Mopawi, a local non-profit organization dedicated to helping the Indians of the Misquitia.
They came upon some children playing — children with glossy, gorgeous, hatless heads. The Miskito Indians are referred to as Tawira, or 'the people with beautiful hair.'
The kids brought them into the village and showed them the Ojon tree, which is unique to the rainforest of the Misquitia region of Central America. They showed him how the Ojon nuts, which resemble small coconuts, are chopped out of the trees, boiled to loosen the peel and smashed in wooden bowls.
Although the Miskito Indians had been using Ojon palm nut oil for centuries to clean, condition and protect their hair, it never had been exported beyond the region.
'At first I thought, 'I don't speak their language and it takes 8,000 nuts to make 3.5 cups of pure Ojon," he said.
He also would have to organize the tribe to make the paste and find a way to ship it from the middle of the rainforest to Italy where it could be purified.
Simioni spent the next three years developing and testing Ojon formulations. In cooperation with the Mopawi, he developed a partnership with 895 Miskito families. The company obtained exclusive worldwide distribution rights to the Ojon oil. In addition to getting paid for the ingredients, they also receive a portion of the profits form the sale of Ojon to help preserve their traditional lifestyle and the region's rainforests.
'As opposed to negotiating the price down, we negotiated up,' he said. 'I wanted them to trust me.'
The company limits the annual harvest in order to protect the natural resource, and to ensure that authentic Ojon continues to be harvested and extracted by hand in the traditional way as a guarantee of purity. The tribes are consulted on all aspects of the business, from product development to marketing.
Ojon expanded into other haircare products in March on QVC, getting an equally enthusiastic response. In December, the company launched the Hydrating Styling Cream and Volumizing Foam. The Shine Serum will be introduced this month, available only at a limited number of outlets.
He said the products can be used to either enhance or smooth curly hair. To straighten, he recommends mixing the Styling Cream with the Volumizing Mousse. For thicker hair, he mixes a little Styling Cream with the Serum. Some even use a small dab of the treatment can as a leave-in conditioner.
All the products contain various concentrations of pure Ojon oil. The treatment is 100 percent Ojon, while the other products contain between 15 percent and 25 percent oil.
As for the products' unique smell, which some compare to incense, Simioni said he initially toyed with processing it in a way that would eliminate the fragrance. But he opted to leave it as it is.
Simioni claims clinical tests prove that the products restore the hair, repairing the cuticle without weighing down the hair. Some people even say it makes their hair grow faster, he said.
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