Emy’s Handmade Soap
Being a business woman might not seem an easy task to a married woman with all the responsibilities she usually has. But, as we learnt from Eman el Gamal from Emy's handmade soap, if you treat your business as a second child, it pays off greatly. Eman's story is really inspiring. She's a half Egyptian half Jordanian woman who loves natural soap and bought some from many places around the world. Despite being a successful dentist, she still felt unfulfilled, something was missing, and she wasn't living with a spark. So, she went after that spark and attended a seminar about finding passion, and she did! After some fun little trials limited to family and friends, Emy's soap came to the world. We have Eman el Gamal herself to tell us more about her story...
First of all, I want to ask you, why soap making, it is a very specific field, how did you realize it was your passion?
Basically at first I didn’t really know there was a soap making field. I was attending a find your passion seminar and while I was at it I realized how passionate I am about soap making. And that is when I started reading more about it and buying simple materials and trying to make things at home. Then I recalled flashbacks through my life and I realized it was deeply related to my life and how long I have been unknowingly passionate about soap making.
There are setbacks to any beginning, tell us about the challenges you faced starting your business, and the ones you face now.
Originally I’m a dentist, so my first challenge was having a passion too different from my field. How would I start making soap? What about dentistry? And so on. By time it started as a side business. My challenges then were how can I find the needed materials and where, who could help me and so on. Now my challenges are different, how to keep up with large orders, and how to keep up with the quality and due dates? Now I’m mostly depending on Egyptian materials because I no longer have the ability to import the materials due to the large amount of orders I have.
Was it easy for you to trade your stable career as a dentist for a risky soap making business?
It wasn’t a total shift at first. It was a side business I work on it when I have the time. I used to find time to study the idea before I even started it. I used to read about it and apply at home. Then when I started working beside my work in the clinic it was like a little plant, it didn’t take much of my time. My day was divided between my work in the clinic and my daughter, but at night when it was my time I worked on my passion. 3 months ago my work as a dentist was stable, but now I’m completely focusing on my soap due to some stuff that came up.
What about your parents, did they back you up while starting your soap business?
I have my mother, my dad passed away. My mom was very supportive. When I told her at first she was surprised, she asked about my work at the clinic? What is soap making? Isn’t it dangerous to be made at home? Isn’t it bad for your skin? But she was very helpful, she used to come with me while buying materials, and now she works with me.
How did you fund your business?
It was mainly self-funding, I had savings that I used for buying materials and books, and take online courses. I was funding everything on my own.
That is really nice, from your experience, what does it take for a business to be successful?
Any business needs a system, not trials that might or might not work. In order for anything to actually work it must have a system. So I looked for one to follow in my business. Second, you need consistency. To push through, to be able to work every day the same as the day before. To find a motive to do so, this is part of the system. It also needs effort, money, lots of studying, and time. After a while I found myself very occupied because of my other job, my home, and my business so you end up swamped.
And how many hours do you work a day? Does anybody help you?
At first I worked on my passion for 4 hours a day, now I work as long as I’m awake. I work for 12 hours or more now. I worked alone for two years, but for the last six month I’ve been having partners so I have two that help me.
And what about work-life balance? Can you maintain it?
Somehow, but sometimes when I’m in seasons it affects my lifestyle, but after a while I regain my balance again. Any business at first needs a lot of time till it kicks off and have a team then things start getting better.
Tell us more about your soap? What makes it special?
My soap is special because it is both artisan and beneficial. The artistic shape doesn’t affect the benefits of the soap for the skin. It looks really good, but it also has lots of oils that are very good for the skin. Some of it also function as exfoliators. It exfoliates the skin. It is also aromatic, my soap always smells really nice.
It really is true! You said in your video that soap can be made in two ways, which way are you using? And which is easier?
I make soap in two ways: cold processing, and melt and pour. Both are so much fun for me. Each has its own skill and fun. They both good for your mentality, they’re meditative. Which is easier? Well, both have their tricks, nothing is easier than the other, they are two totally different ways. But the cold processing is more risky. It has lots of precautions because we deal with sodium hydroxide which is too dangerous so it has lots of safety precautions to be done right. No kids or pets allowed near it. The melt and pour on the other hand is very kid friendly.
People are always worried about chemicals, do you use chemicals on your soap?
As for the chemicals people usually get confused. I don’t use any chemicals on my soap. As for the cold processed soap, it has sodium hydroxide, which is a derivative of a natural element and without it there would be no soap. Its slogan name is lye. All soap makers have a phrase, no soap no lye. The thing about lye is that when it is used in cold process it reacts with the oils and produce soap. It takes 4 to 6 weeks for the soap to get hard so by that time it is completely dried out and no longer active in the soap.
It seems intricate, how much does it take of your energy? Is it exhausting?
Not at all. When I am out of mood I make soap to feel happy. It is very entertaining as a job and it really boosts your energy.
And how do you get inspired? What inspires you?
A lot of things around me inspires me. Colours, designs, interior designs, and sometimes scents. A lot of things but mostly landscape and nature. I also get inspired when I watch international soap makers from Japan, America, and Thailand, I get highly inspired when I watch their work. One more thing, ingredients itself can inspire me.
What would you like to say to the girls reading this interview?
I want to tell them that life with a passion has a whole other dimension they know nothing about. They have to fight to know what their passion is. There are two types of people; people who know what their passion is but they don’t practice it, and people have no idea what passion is and what their passion might be. Both ways they have to get there and know what their passion is. Until then they would have not lived a full life.
And the rest of the community? Would you like to tell them something?
I would like to ask them to appreciate handmade products. When people buy a handmade product they buy value, something entirely different than mass produced stuff. They buy hours of work, studying, and trying. They buy the maker’s happiness, they can make the maker the happiest person in the world. Unlike when you buy something from a store you don’t even know who the maker is or what his brand is. Another thing, I want people to know that anyone can do everything if he gives it the enough amount of patience and consistency. Third thing: if you don’t like a product or you don’t think it is your type there’s no need for name calling and being mean, you don’t need to belittle someone’s work, you never know maybe the product that you don’t like appeals to other people, so be kind!
Finally, we would want to know, what is your next step?
My next step is to plan a legal company so I can export when I want to. Also next year I’m planning to make soap making courses to teach people how to make their own soap. I also want to have a store so people could come and choose their products themselves.
We really enjoyed our talk with Eman, we hope you did too. Share your thoughts in the comment section below.
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