For the longest time I’ve come to believe that washing my face with soap is a big skincare no-no. Commercial soaps tend to be harsh on delicate facial skin, stripping it of precious oils.
However, I was recently introduced to the concept of hand-made soaps, free of nasty parabans and SLS, and loaded with skin-loving ingredients that are good enough even for tender baby skin. Just look at the gorgeous hamper I received from home-grown brand SoulPure Soaps!
These soaps smell divinely delicious, even with the shrink-wrap still on. I’ve been bathing with the Green Apple Soap, and love how it scents up my whole bathroom and leaves my skin feeling so soft and pampered. More on the products in a separate post, today I’d like to introduce you to the two lovely young ladies behind the magic… Uttara Ramkumar and Nishi Bhuvandas.
This pair of BFF’s, originally based in Banglaore India, started soap-making as a hobby. Having realized the Indian beauty market was in dire need of real organic beauty products, the girls got serious with their soap-making skills despite their full-fledged careers as qualified Civil Engineers. Lucky for us, they are now based in the UAE! Read on about their impressive story so far…
“Our handcrafted soaps are all veggie and completely natural, packed full of the finest oils and butters to gently cleanse and moisturize, and scented with naturally uplifting essential oils sourced from USDA (United States Department of Agriculture) organic approved manufactures. The fragrance oils in our soaps which are particularly popular among our customers, is also sourced from USA which are IFRA (International Fragrance Association) compliant and phthalate free. We also strongly stand against animal cruelty hence none of our products are tested on animals and we make sure to source our raw material through cruelty free companies and through fair trade distributors.”
1) Please tell us the story behind your brand. How did you get into soap-making, and when did you decide to turn your passion into a business?
Me & Uttara, we are the two energies behind SoulPure. We were normally fascinated about health and beauty products which were marked vegan, organic, herbal etc. We always wondered what would be the real difference in the ingredients of them and other commercial ones.
And that curiosity is what made us read more and thereby learning a lot on various natural and handmade cosmetic product making processes and finally pushed us for a realistic attempt.
Initially we tried and tested it for ourselves and gifting it to close friends. Development of
prolonged demand and positive feedback for these soaps within our circle was when we decided to take it to the next level of turning it into a startup business.
We didn’t wake up to a day deciding to become entrepreneurs but it was just experimenting and the way our audience (customers of course) acknowledged and endorsed us, that made us spin to entrepreneurs. A silent reason being, we besties never wanted to be drifted apart, no matter what and how ever old we grow and so we made SoulPure happen.
2) You started in India, and are now in the UAE. What brought you here? How does the UAE market differ from India?
Yes we started in India and once we got confident enough about our products, it was my idea to try it out in the UAE mainly because I reside here. We always like trying out fellow business organic, handmade brands to feel it and learn more from each of them.
Even in the UAE I have tried a couple of them, but still every time I used I always got the feel that SoulPure is far better in terms of quality-cost quotient.
What I have observed in the UAE is that there aren’t much handmade and natural beauty brands when compared to India. And if at all you find them, they are a way too expensive.
So this cost makes the crowd restricted to try it and benefit out of them. So our mission is to launch a much affordable range of natural and handmade bath and
beauty product by varying the product size availability so that anybody can afford.
I have a habit of reading the ingredient list before I pick anything, be it a food item or a beauty product. It is found to be a mandate under many certification bodies that you mention the scientific name of ingredients and me being into this business, not only read but can identify each component added into by reading the label which some of us fail to as they having not mentioned the common name.
What I have observed is that even the ingredient list of many of the international and well-known brands generally categorized as ‘Natural or Safe for skin’ in our
minds does not comply to be completely natural or chemical free. But all products of SoulPure are SLS and Paraben free and are testified.
3) How do you decide what ingredients go together when coming up with a new formula?
We both put a lot of efforts reading, researching, formulating, experimenting recipes. It was just all about passion, creativity, colors, fragrances and majorly the chemical science behind the reactions.
But we zero on our own formulations after a lot of permutation and combinations.
We finalize the ingredients either based on customer requirement or based on the climate conditions of the location the product being targeted to launch or based on availability of raw materials.
Sometimes testing sample on ourselves or in our near friend circle gives us a lot of constructive feedback which help us improvise the recipe before we launch it to the public in general. Like for instance we had initially a body butter recipe with coconut oil which brought in a lot of feedback that the butter getting melted away faster in warmer temperatures, so eventually we replaced it with other butters and oil and now it’s just perfect.
4) Apart from soaps, you also make beautiful body creams, lip balms and more. Please tell us about these.
Though we had started with only soaps. Now, apart from Artisan soaps we also have a few bath and beauty products added up to our product range like lip balms, lip scrubs, whipped body butter, face and body cream and face masks:
- Lip balms- Comes in three flavors made (Strawberry, Orange, Chocolate) with Shea
butter, Coconut oil, Avocado oil, beeswax, lip safe micas and IFRA compliant flavor oils.
- Berry Bliss Lip scrub- Berry flavored with caster sugar, sweet almond oil, rose hip seed oil, beeswax, Shea butter enriched with Vitamin E oil.
- Lavender Whipped body butter- Unrefined raw Shea Butter, Mango Butter, Sweet
Almond Oil, Avocado oil, Jojoba Oil, Lavender Essential Oil, Vitamin E Oil, Tapioca Starch,Skin safe micas (No water, No fillers added, only pure butters whipped-made fresh every time).
- Cucumber Melon Face & Body cream- Aqua, Sweet Almond Oil, Shea Butter, Silky Emulsifying wax, Avocado Oil, Stearic Acid, Fragrance oil, Vitamin E Oil, Phenoxyethanol, Caprylyl Glycol, FD&C approved dyes.
- Camel’s Milk & Red Moroccan softening & detoxifying face mask- Camel’s Milk powder, Rhassoul Clay, Moroccan Clay, Vitamin E oil.
5) What was the first product you made under the brand?
One of our close friends who had then been recently blessed with a baby had always wanted to go for a pure organic bath regime for the baby. When she conveyed her concern to us, we decided to start off with infant bath soap. The first product we had launched was ‘Buttermilk Carrot Bastille soap’ which was 100% purely organic, chemical free, unscented and being bastille soap it had more than 70% olive oil which made it perfect for infants and adults with sensitive skin.
6) What is your personal skincare routine?
I have a combination skin. So in the morning I just grab SoulPure’s gentle Calamine Shea butter soap (it actually works for me) in the shower and apply it with finger tips. Rinse it with warm water and pat dry.
As soon as I step out of shower I moisturize my skin with SoulPure’s Pink Orchid face and body cream, it is really light but has the right amount of moisturizer and doesn’t
block my pores.
I don’t have a habit of using sunscreen unless I don’t have an outdoor activity. I mostly work indoors and doesn’t call for its need on a regular basis. As I work 8am to 6pm
weekdays I re-do regime only in the evening.
To me wearing make-up to bed is a strict No-No. So once I reach home I wash my face with a doctor prescribed Salicylic foaming face wash, followed by Biotique’s Bio Almond oil makeup cleanser which is oil based and alcohol free, leaving your skin silky-fresh.
And before off to bed I just dab a little of my SoulPure cream on to my face and hands.
7) If you were not making soap, what would you be doing?
Actually we still just don’t make soaps. We both are basically Civil Engineers. We both hold PG degree in Civil Engineering from NIT, India. Soon after, Uttara was working as an Assistant Manager (Environmental Engineering) with GIFT Gujarat before she discovered her zest to start her own hand made jewelry. She then set up her new venture when she moved to Bangalore, named it Quillz and Curlz. Soon after she was invited by Art’zire to join their team which is a one-stop place to make all kind of personalized products- all handmade with utmost perfection. She still works there and does soaping when she’s back home after work and during weekends.
And I am still into my core qualification where I work as a Civil Engineer at Abu Dhabi, UAE and simultaneously makes soaps and few other beauty products at home and manages the entire operation of SoulPure right from here.