Lebanese-born, Dubai-based founders Jessica Saba and Nada Amine’s newly launched handcrafted soap company draws on Mediterranean heritage and age-old mantras. Welcome to the world of DSoap Atelier, where family comes first and ‘natural’ and ‘organic’ are the buzz words to live by.
MOJEH: Define the moment that the DSoap concept was born.
Jessica: The idea came to me late last year after I recognised there’s a gap in the market for creative gifting ideas. I felt that there was a potential for pairing the handmade soap heritage with a creative approach to develop a unique concept. In May 2020 myself and Nada both made the call to leave the corporate sector and launch DSoap Atelier, a modern take on family tradition.
MOJEH: Tell us about the idea.
Jessica: The idea was to introduce a new and different gifting concept with natural handmade soap at its core. The product mix caters to the many occasions we celebrate in our life journey, from housewarmings, birthdays and wedding giveaways, to baby souvenirs, National Day and the festive season.
MOJEH: Why did you choose 2020 to launch?
Nada: Despite all the unprecedented challenges that we witnessed in 2020, for some strange reason all the stars somehow lined-up for us, and we decided to start this journey together. The time was just right to leave the organisation where we had both worked for the past five years and to instead start working on a new business model. While our creative process was at its peak we were very much aware of the challenges this year had brought. For example, we decided to build our business to be mainly on digital platforms, given the shift we have seen in consumers’ buying behaviours because of the restrictions imposed due to Covid-19.
MOJEH: You attribute the idea to your grandmothers, tell us about this.
Jessica: We are both from different villages in Lebanon but we grew up with our grandmothers making their own handmade soaps using the oils from the harvest of our olive fields. They would make them for their family and their neighbours. To build on their craftsmanship and develop their trade into a modern business – taking into account the shift in the trends and way of living – is an homage to them.
MOJEH: What makes the ingredients special?
Nada: Well for one, other than the caustic soda, all our ingredients are edible. We use premium quality oils, from olive, almond and coconut, and the essential oils are all sourced from the best vendors to ensure natural, vegan products, which we make at our atelier here in Dubai.
MOJEH: Why is it important that everything remains natural?
Jessica: We’re both very conscientious about what products to use, and as a mother I make extra effort in outsourcing natural and safe products. It is very important to maintain the natural elements in our concept as the market is saturated with commercial brands, while our unique selling point is the ingredients we use.
MOJEH: In what ways does the idea of natural and organic extend into other areas of your life?
Nada: Our core values rely on being true to ourselves and that naturally extends to using the best ingredients for our families. We are now more aware than ever of the food we eat, the activities we do and even the products we consume. Our experience with DSoap Atelier has brought us closer to like-minded communities who value the importance of avoiding harmful chemical ingredients and additives, to reduce our waste and be more sustainable in our packaging, and to be more conscious of our footprint.
MOJEH: You are both successful businesswomen and now entrepreneurs; what makes your partnership work?
Nada: We each have a different role within this venture. While Jessica is more involved in the soap-making process and the research and development of new products, I am focusing on branding and communication. However, both roles intertwine and there’s a constant interchange of ideas at every level. We never seem to rest as we are constantly on the lookout for new concepts.
MOJEH: In what ways are you giving back to your community?
Jessica: After the devastating explosion of Beirut, we dedicated our sales for one day to be donated to the Lebanese Red Cross in support of survivors. We have also worked with a close friend on launching a special soap, the Hope soap, of which sales are donated to a charity in Lebanon for underprivileged children.
MOJEH: What’s next for DSoap Atelier?
Nada: We dream big at DSoap Atelier, and our plans are very ambitious, including adding new product lines to our portfolio such as natural sun tanning oil and scrubs. dsoapatelier.com