Pallavi Biju captures the journey of CEO, Founder and now, EXPO licensee Stevi Lowmass who took her business from the comforts of her kitchen to an award-winning business while staying true to her values of Authenticity, Community and Sustainability
The pandemic brought a welcome change in the skincare, beauty, and wellness world. With plenty of time on one’s hands, skincare went from being just skin deep to a form of self-care that everyone deserved due to the lockdowns and protocols. 2021, especially, emphasized natural ingredients and sustainable packaging, which seems to be a consistent trend this year as well.
Stevi Lowmass, Founder and CEO of The Camel Soap Factory, has been way ahead of time in keeping up with this trend. Starting her soap-making adventure in the kitchen, she established a factory for her hand-crafted soaps in 2012. Within just one year, the company won the “Small Business of the Year Award” in Dubai, their first award in an impressive line-up that would soon follow.
A Family Matter
The choice for creating handmade soaps was a no-brainer for Stevi, who decided to become an entrepreneur after the birth of her daughter. She decided that a work environment where she was not in charge of her own timings was not suitable for her anymore. Also, her concerns and priorities changed as she stepped into motherhood. “I wanted to set a very positive role model for her as she grew up,” Lowmass shares, “But I was also terrified of bringing a child into a world increasingly polluted by chemicals and our modern lifestyle.”
Hence began her hunt for developing a product that could be locally manufactured using local and sustainable ingredients. Keeping in mind UAE’s landscape and then conditions, this turned out to be quite a challenge. “Of course, I wanted the company to be successful and profitable, but I realized that I also wanted my daughter to be proud of me. I wanted her to know that what I was doing was helping protect the planet for her and her children one day,” says the concerned mother on her promise to not do anything that could potentially sabotage the planet for future generations.
The Need For Natural And Local
“I have always been fascinated with natural soaps,” says Stevi about her business. “My daughter has sensitive skin, and it seemed like the right testing ground for creating natural soaps. I thought it would be a great idea to see if I could try and create something that utilized local ingredients, and I thought camel milk would be wonderful.”
Every week, the factory utilizes nearly a tonne of fresh milk sourced from Al Ain Dairy farms. In addition, ingredients such as lye, shea butter, olive oil, and essential aromatic oils are used in the manufacture of these hand-crafted soaps. The ingredients are sourced locally and from as close to the Middle East as possible, such as the shea butter sourced from Africa and the olive oil from Spain. The production equipment that was previously brought from the UK has now been swapped with equipment produced by local companies, per specification.
Apart from the materials and equipment used, the soaps stay true to their Arabian heritage. From time immemorial, Camel Milk has been used by the people of Arabia. The “bounty of the desert” has been used by Bedouins for both cosmetic as well as sustenance purposes. Milk has been an essential ingredient in skincare for years, and it’s been used in soaps for just as long since soaps containing milk tend to be much creamier and gentler on the skin. Camel milk, considered to be the closest to a human mother’s milk, is the most nutrient-dense due to the fact that camels grow in some of the hottest and harshest environments in the world. Rich in Vitamins A, C, D, and E, and AHAs (Alpha-Hydroxy-Acids) and minerals like Calcium, Potassium, Zinc, and Selenium, this skincare ingredient is your one solution to all skin problems.
A Flawless Journey
Since its inception, The Camel Soap Factory has been the recipient of many awards, including Manufacturer of the Year, Micro Business of the Year, Sustainable Business of the Year, among many others. Now in the 11th year of its business, it is the world’s largest producer of camel milk-based skin care products with a wide range of hand-crafted soaps. TCSF is now an official EXPO 2020 licensed brand and boasts sales of more than 1 million bars of soap over the last eight years. “Creating natural skincare cosmetics, made from local camel milk has enabled us to bring the benefits of our soaps and products to a wider audience, while showcasing a very niche, ‘only in the Middle East’ proposition and brand story,” says Stevi.
The recipient of two awards at Beauty World Middle East 2021, Natural Product of the Year 2021, and Homegrown Talent of the Year 2021, the company stands firm on its promise to always promote sustainability. TCSF takes the impact they have on the surroundings very seriously and understands that one’s actions have long-lasting impacts, that the future generations’ destiny lies in the current generations’ hands.
“We are proud of the fact that our factory uses less electricity than an average villa in Dubai. We use less water than an office with a similar number of workers in it. We try to use oils and fragrances that have been made by businesses like ourselves who also care about the environment. Our packaging is 99% reusable or recyclable,” says Stevi with pride.
Giving her personal care and concern to every product put out by the company, Stevi is the perfect example of an entrepreneur who has scaled heights by never compromising on her values. “For every product, I ask the question: will my daughter look back in 50 years and be proud of her mother’s legacy?” she concludes.