• 1 947 words • 7min read •
Maison Dassam’s desire is to build a place of exchange, a bridge between cultures by opening the doors to a new vision of Africa: creative Africa.
Maison Dassam was created by a young Parisian entrepreneur, Wendi, who developed a very strong and creative concept store inspired by her origin country, Burkina Faso.
Wendi is developing by herself collections of refined products for home and body care. Inspired by the wisdom and ancient traditions of Africa, she highlights the know-how and the cultural wealth of the continent.
Maison Dassam concept store is offering artisanal and high-quality products, hand-made with the greatest respect of traditions. Each piece is unique and conveys a story, a relationship between the creator and the object.
“Do not harm”
The brand’s DNA is transcripted in its name, understand “The Dassam House”.
“Dassam” has actually two meanings for Wendi. First, it is the abbreviation of her dad’s first name “Dassamwendé”. Plus, “Dassamwendé” means in Moré, one of Burkina Faso’s dialect, “Do not Harm God”.
This is the whole purpose of the brand, sharing values of preservation and safeguarding of the environment, and of the richest and oldest traditions of Africa.
“It’s been a long time since I wanted to create something about Africa. Since I am a child, I have always wanted to highlight the African art of living.
I worked for four and a half years in the cosmetic sector. When I decided to left my previous company, I needed some time to focus on myself, on my future and my projects…”
“Each success is the failure of other things”
In June 2017, Wendi decided to jump into the entrepreneurial adventure! The very first step was to already start the branding and identity process of Maison Dassam. She knew from the very beginning what she wanted to convey with her future brand.
Since the concept is to valorize Africa way of life, she wanted at first to focus on Hibiscus beverages, and then, step by step, proposing cosmetics, and objects. The Hibiscus beverage was a very good idea. Indeed, this drink, also called “bissap”, is very known from all the people that are related to West Africa. But, after three months of hard-working, she realized that this project had many constraints she could not go through alone.
A bit disoriented, but still strongly determined, she decided to focus on the cosmetics and objects part. To do so, she flew to Burkina and stayed there for more than two months.
“There were so many things I did not know because I am living in Paris! So I was just open-minded and I was welcoming everything that the country could show me.
I discovered a lot of things. I was going from door to door, meeting inspiring and talented craftsmen, producers, and associations. Day after day, I was building up my own little networks of talented people”
Actually, Wendi did it right. When she came back to France in February 2018, she knew exactly which products she will propose through Maison Dassam. In fact, she came back with a very first order of hand-made products.
This time, all the lights were green! The products she wanted to valorize were fitting perfectly to the brand identity she had already developed. Then, through her research, she noticed that French customers are more and more interested in ethics, authentic and natural products. And on top of this, the desire to return to the sources with qualitative and long-lasting products is growing substantially.
Maison Dassam went online on the 4th of July 2018.
A window on the African Way of Life
Maison Dassam concept store is focusing on the African art of living. Its tagline “Your Window on Africa” is reflecting Wendi’s ambitions.
The first one is to spread the African’s know-how. For instance, the Art of Living part of the e-shop is offering handmade decoration pieces: textiles for the bed, the sofa, some plaids, cushions, and sleeves. Each of them is handmade with the woven fabrics called “Faso Dan Fani”, a traditional weaving technique from Burkina. The women who created these pieces inherited from this know-how from generation to generation.
The second ambition is to share the African well-being, by offering natural plants and natural super-food items. Therefore, Wendi is highlighting the Hibiscus flower and the spirulina powder. You can read about some recipes on her blog. New plants and nutrients will be available soon, such as the baobab, and a new tea ranges based on plants from Africa.
This aspect means a lot to Wendi, who would like to learn more about plants and the African’s pharmacopeia. Her wish is to get more information about the caring power of the plants: the aromatherapy. Aromatherapy is very popular in Africa, it is the only remedy when people don’t have the resources to access the conventional medicine.
Natural, bio and eco-responsible cosmetics
But most importantly, Wendi has the desire to go against the current of fast and disposable consumption by offering timeless and multi-use products. Therefore, Wendi offers versatile, sustainable, ethic and eco-responsible cosmetics. It means that each product is 100% natural, bio and can be used for the whole body, from the hair to the feet.
“When I was in Burkina, I contacted an association which takes care of the fabrication of the soaps by extracting the oil from the seeds. I discovered the properties of each seed, how people from Burkina use them to take care of their body, and how I can integrate these oils in our daily routines.”
Therefore, the products of Wendi are not transformed. The only thing that is incorporated is the Vitamin E, a natural agent. You won’t find any chemistry ingredient.
However, you need to keep in mind that natural and bioproducts do not mean that they cannot contain allergens or that they can be irritating to your skin. For example, the shea butter contains natural latex, an allergen for some people. For these reasons, Wendi highly recommends testing her product first on a small part of your skin for three days.
Regarding the cosmetics, you can find three types of product on www.maisondassam.com. First, the soaps: a softening soap made with Moringa, an exfoliating soap made with Hibiscus Flowers, and a purifying soap made with Aloe Vera plant.
Then the balms: a vegetable balm with brut shea oil, a multi-usage balm made with four nourishing oils.
And finally, the vegetal oils: Baobab oil, Sesame oil, Touloucouna oil, Neem oil, and Desert Date oil.
Girl Boss, on her way to the success
Wendi gets inspiration from everything: musicians, singer, personalities, entrepreneurs, writers,… Every Monday, she likes to portray someone that inspires her on Instagram.
But the most inspiring people to her are her parents.
“The path of my parents is impressing me. In the Ivory Coast, my dad had his own and very popular tailoring workshop. At a point, they decided to live in Ivory Coast to build a family here in France, just for me!”
Now based in Burkina, her parents are also a huge support in Burkina Faso. In fact, they are managing the relationships with her producers and partners, they help her to make decisions, and support the logistics there. They are fully part of the success of Maison Dassam.
It is actually very helpful because, for the moment, Wendi is managing everything by herself from Paris: the order, the administrative issues, the requests via email, the communication on the website, the blog, and the social media.
Talking about the communication aspects, Maison Dassam already has a small, but very strong and engaged community, with the support of some micro-influencers, without asking it.
“ These micro-influencers do not owe me anything. I am every day very surprised to see that there is already a couple of people who are engaged by the brand. They are posting very nice reviews of my products. It helps me to get true feedback that are very constructive and needed at my level.”
Creativity never sleeps
Even though she has so much to do, Wendi is guided and led by her desire to dream big. This e-shop is the beginning of everything, of a bigger project.
First of all, she will try, step by step, to highlight more and more countries from West Africa on her e-shop. As for her experience with Burkina, she will discover the riches and talents of these countries.
Her huge next step and something that I am waiting is her physic shop, available in a couple of years!
“I want to create a place to leave, where people can eat, share, talk, create, and experience the brand Maison Dassam.”
Maison Dassam IRL
Sometimes, Wendi has the opportunity to meet her customers. A cultural center in Paris allows her to deliver her product by hand to her customers. There, she can welcome her customers, give the order and have a direct feedback. The customers can try other products and discovering other aspects of the brand. She will also organize from time to time DIY workshops to teach how to create handmade cosmetics.
However, she will have very soon the opportunity to test the physical market thanks to a collaboration with other creators in Paris. For Spring/Summer 2019, we will be able to discover the brand in an ephemeral pop-up store! Stay tuned!
“Having a physical presence is very important to me. First, because I need to get direct feedback, and then because my brand needs to be experienced IRL, by touching the products, smelling them. I want to immerse my customers in the philosophy and the atmosphere of my brand.”
Just make it happen
Wendi is honestly an impressive person. She failed and came back on her feet with more determination, and has never forgotten her dreams.
So, of course, when you meet a person like this, you want to know how do they do to keep their fire!
“Be surrounded. You need to have people around you that support you 100%. Because my brand is 100% of my life, I am lucky to be with someone that understands my project. My partner in life is supporting me every day and is following me in my decisions.
Believe in your project. There will always be bad moments, I get one last week! Sometimes you just wonder why you are doing this. But don’t drop it. This is why family, friends, partners, are the best persons to talk to at these moments because they make you believe in your project even more.
And finally, I always have in mind the people who are engaged in this projects. It means the producers and craftsmen in Africa. When I think about them, it kicks me and gives me the energy to pursuit”.
Try it now!
Through her brand, Wendi wants to lay the stones for the construction of a fairer world. Her ambition is to allow each of a partner to live from their activities thanks to very strong partnerships and a remuneration that worth their works.
The prices of Maison Dassam‘s products are very reasonable. Wendi puts a point of honor to pay the producers and the craftsmen fairly and worthy. But also to live from her project, and make her customers happy!
Regarding the cosmetics, the soaps are at 6€, the balm at 12€, the shea butter at 16€ and the vegetal oils at 14€. Concerning the Decoration and Home styling pieces, the cushions are at 34€ and the textiles are at 64€.
Convinced by Wendi’s concept store? Get 10% discount on the whole e-shop with the code “CONCEPTSTORIES10”!
Courage Wendi, and all the best for your next successes!