Keymonisha (a/k/a “KeyKey”) Dudley has always had an eye for high-quality, natural cosmetic products and a strong heart for her connection to her African heritage and its vast culture.
Those attributes inspired the Charleston native and resident to launch her Rooted Imports business.
Knowing first hand how difficult it can be finding authentic products, particularly in the Kanawha Valley, Dudley wanted to use her passions and understanding of them to meet the needs and desires of her customers in finding natural skin care products and African artisan décor, jewelry, and more.
Dudley started her online business earlier this summer to reach a broader customer base than a bricks-and-mortar location might, particularly in the present time of pandemic. The website, rootedimports.com, launched recently, and “products are already flying off the shelves,” she said.
Dudley said she designed the website to reflect her own personality and who she is: “natural, vibrant, welcoming and friendly.”
Products on the site range from 100% raw black soap, shea butter, roll-on fragrance oils, beard balms, natural teas, handmade leather stools, children’s attire, and more.
African masks and wall décor selections include Makonde Warrior shields made from cattle skin, Maasai totem masks, Ivorian masks and others. Carved, wooden chess sets and other one-of-a-kind pieces are also available.
“Every piece of art we have has its own uniqueness,” said Dudley, “and all art is from Africa. No piece is ever the exact same. A lot of them have different meanings. Authenticity is important to me.”
She added that her Rooted Imports products are chosen to offer variety — and appeal — to all ages, ethnicities and aesthetics.
“I want to meet everybody’s needs,” she said. “I use my own eye for what I sell, what I’d like in my house, and I’m learning about what other people like.
“We have oils for men, soaps for women, products for both, children’s clothing, even baby rattles that have been painted in Africa,” Dudley said. “If you go on the website, you’re going to find at least one item that is for someone.”
A 2012 Capital High School and 2017 West Virginia University Institute of Technology graduate, Dudley’s connection to African art dates back to girlhood.
She relishes sharing the meaning of the African art and insight about the natural products she offers with her customers, she said.
“I love helping customers choose the best gift to purchase for their loved ones or to help find products for themselves.
“For the last five or six years, I have shied away from big brand products and adopted more of a natural approach to health and beauty. I would go to Ohio to have my hair done. You can find shea butter or oils in a big city, but they’re hard to find in West Virginia. I wanted to be that main person people could go to in Charleston,” the 26-year-old said.
She said operating Rooted Imports online has provided her more mobility — and stability — than a smoothie business she began last year, selling the treats at University of Charleston-Laidley Field.
“Since COVID-19 came around, I was not going to be able to set up at Laidley Field this year, with the track season canceled,” Dudley explained. “I had been making different products inside my kitchen and was always into African art, so I thought maybe I could do this online and COVID-19 couldn’t come between that like it did with the smoothies.”
For more information, contact Keymonisha Dudley at email@example.com or, online, visit the website listed above or the Facebook page, “Rooted Imports, LLC.”