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Unearthing beauty: Idaho woman taps glamorous side of humble potato to help refugees

Idaho’s famous potatoes have fed the world for generations, but now, through the efforts of a Twin Falls entrepreneur, they are being used to produce skin care products and at the same time helping restore human dignity to displaced people around the world. This heartwarming story by Bill Schaefer for Farm & Ranch.

It’s a story that began during a conflict half-way around the world in Asia but found a home here in Idaho.

The year was 2016, Liyah Babayan was looking to begin a new start-up business making beauty products that would complement her boutique consignment shop, Ooh La La in Twin Falls.

She was trying to decide what ingredients to use for the beauty products while listening to Beyonce’s album “Lemonade.” “I thought, ‘Yeah, you know, life’s never given me lemonade but life has given me potatoes,’” she said.

In the process she also remembered how her grandmother would apply potatoes as a topical relief for headaches, fevers and rashes. “I did research on this potato remedy and the cross-cultures across time where it exists. The potato has kind of been that dull, boring miracle,” Babayan said.

For Babayan it was a recognition of the life she had made for herself and her family here in Idaho since arriving as a refugee from Azerbaijan in 1992. “It brought me to Idaho and gave me potatoes; that was the reality but it was a metaphor, too,” she said of the refugee status that brought her family to Idaho.

And with that inspiration came the impetus to begin a cosmetic line made from Idaho potatoes that she would name ‘Make Peace.’ Make Peace skin care products include soap, skin lotion, lip balm, beard balm and a clothing line, but soap is the primary product at this time.

Read the full heartwarming story in Farm and Ranch here
Photo: Liyah Babayan her kid pose with a collection of Make Peach bars. Bill Schaefer | Farm and Ranch

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