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Interview with Azara Beautique

Na’ima B Robert talks to Mona, daughter of Dr. Samira Zaidan the founder of Azarabeautique.com on their natural soaps created with Middle Eastern ingredients.

Tell us about yourselves

Azara Beautique comes to you from the heart of the Middle East, offering the purest cosmetic products, created and blended with the rare and refined jewels of the Arab world. We draw our inspiration from long-standing Arab tradition of working with and not against nature. For centuries, the Arab world has sought the answer to caring for our inner and outer selves through the indepth study of native herbs and nature for daily care and medicinal use and these traditional secrets have been passed on from generation to generation and into our brand. Dr. Samira Zaidan, my mother, who is Saudi, has been a certified homeopath in both the UK and Saudi Arabia for over 20 years and I, Dr. Mona Alyedreessy, am originally a sociologist, however I have been very passionate in my mother’s work for many years and decided a few years ago to get involved with the business.

 

What made you decide to start a soap business?

When we first started this project in my mother’s homeopathic clinic in Saudi Arabia, we noticed that a lot of people were amazed at the results of using many of the herbs, plants and resins that my mother had recommended to them to treat a variety of health problems. The idea of making soaps came from the demand of my mother’s patients for healthy and organic soaps that were free from preservatives, chemicals and fragrances and that which included the herbs, resins and plants that were suitable for their skin and scalp conditions. We found these soaps to be a success among them and we decided to create a collection of cosmetics using special herbs and resins that are known in the Arab World for their medicinal and healing properties. All of our products are 100% natural, organic, halal, chemical-free, not tested on animals, primarily vegan, handmade, sulfate/paraben free and have all been tested, approved and certified by UK labs to meet the highest of EU cosmetic safety standards. 

 

 What is the inspiration behind the brand, ingredients etc?

I was raised since I was a child to use homeopathic medicines and natural Middle Eastern herbs to treat a wide range of health issues and they would always work. Therefore my deep trust in these herbs, oils, waters, plants and raw ingredients is what inspired me to take the business to another level and create a more professional international brand that focuses mainly on the quality and medical/health/cosmetic benefits of our ingredients. I chose to call our online ‘beautique’ Azara, which means pure and virgin in Arabic, reflecting our use of the highest grade of ingredients and extra virgin oils, which I believe is what makes a difference to people’s skin, hair and overall wellbeing. We travelled across North Africa and The Middle East to collect all of our raw ingredients from local family businesses/farmers in the deserts and mountains. Our aim is to support small family businesses via fair-trade agreements in order to benefit as many people in this project as possible. You can find info about our journeys posted on our Instagram page!

 

Which is your favourite soap and why?

Our favourite soap has to be the Fig, Olive and Zamzam soap as it was inspired by Sura 95 in The Quran and the immense health benefits that are in each ingredient. This particular soap has profound healing properties and has been a popular choice among our customers.

 

 What makes the mother/daughter bond special?

It is a beautiful thing to be able to work with family members who are as passionate as you are about your work. I have always had a very close relationship with my mother and we both have very similar personalities, which makes her very easy to work with. We do not have any official working hours between us, which is an advantage, as we sometimes stay up until 3am working on formulas and other aspects of the business, which is something you cannot do with regular employees. We are both working together to make the business a success, rather than perceiving it solely as a financial venture. It is really important for us to spread the medical knowledge of the ingredients we use so that people can benefit from the knowledge my mother has accumulated over the years. It makes us so happy to know that people have greatly benefited from using our products. It also helps to have a consultant at hand each time advice is needed and my mother is always there when I need her on board for anything. The main bonus however, is the fact our relationship has become stronger from working together alongside the ability to keep certain production secrets within the family, so it is something that I would love to pass on to my daughter one day too.

 

 How do you divide the business tasks between yourselves?

I handle the business side of things and my mother deals with the product side of things – so she perfects the formulas and makes sure that the products are all made in the correct way and that the information that is posted/published about the ingredients and how to use them are correct.

 

 What challenges did you face when setting up the business?

We originally tried to set up the business in Jeddah, in Saudi Arabia but it was a very long, expensive and tedious process as a British citizen. It was required of us to open a commercial factory in order to be registered as a soap business, however we did not wish to do this because we did not want to lose the novelty of the products being individually handmade and wrapped. We use very expensive ingredients in our products and it would have been too expensive to run a large scale factory, so we decided to open a company in the UK and it was a much easier and affordable process.

 

 What are your hopes for the business?

We hope that we can one day open our own boutique store in a high-end location in London and we would love to open a few branches in The Middle East too! Our goal at the moment is reaching out to everyone who appreciates high quality natural cosmetics that are beneficial for their health – and making them easily available in department stores perhaps or other boutiques and health stores to begin with.

 

Name 3 women who inspire you

  1. Al Sayyeda Khadija (r.a) – the greatest of all women who taught us how to be great business women, independent, family women, wives, mothers and people who contribute positively to our local communities.
  1. Yasmine Mogahed – An American Egyptian life coach/counsellor who has affected me with her talks about positivity, leading a healthy and spiritual lifestyle and self development.
  1. My mother, who has been my inspiration in everything I have done and achieved since I was a young girl.

 

 What are your favourite ayahs from the Qur’an?

“And when My servants ask you, [O Muhammad], concerning Me – indeed I am near. I respond to the invocation of the supplicant when he calls upon Me. So let them respond to Me [by obedience] and believe in Me that they may be [rightly] guided”. [2:186]

“Do what is beautiful. Allah loves those who do what is beautiful” [2:95]

 
Each soap is priced £22

www.Azarabeautique.com

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/azarabeautique/

Twitter – https://twitter.com/AzaraBeautique

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/azarabeautique/

 

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