The spell of the soap making
The Cuban artisan Sandra Aldama compares herself to a witch, “a good witch,” she clarifies. She doesn’t try to poison maidens with apples, nor tempts with sweet houses children lost in the woods, on the contrary, her potions have astringent, moisturizing, toning and exfoliating properties.
When I first heard her about handmade soap, I remembered my mother did those with caustic soda and lard or mutton in the 90s of last century, period known in Cuba as the Special Period. At that time, the toiletries were scarce in the domestic market and we not only had to make soaps, but also toothpaste with honey, which I still remember with distaste.
But back to Sandra soaps, which have nothing to do with those, and yes, a little, because they are made from Marseille soap, which also contains caustic soda. However, coming from the French city they have an added value: the other key ingredient is the olive oil of high moisturizing and nourishing qualities for the skin.
“They market it in Cuba, are easy to get and I got to them after experimenting with others of poor quality. My procedure is to recast and enrich them with natural substances; I do not use dyes, preservatives or any other chemicals, ” this young enviable complexion and fine features says, which for two years was experimenting and studying current trends in the international soap where “there has been a return to nature”.
“I wanted to do something that was new in the country. I explored several facets of the self-employed; I was a hairdresser and did crafts after deciding I did not want to continue to exercise my profession as a teacher for special needs students. I soon discovered the option of making soaps because it was something I had always had before my eyes. My grandmother has been all her life closely linked to cosmetics and made products that has won several awards in national science and technology, even in her youth she was a perfumery. I grew up surrounded by her ideas and experiments. ”
When Sandra finally decided to fall with the spell of soap making, she could have give good use to a flying broom on which transport herself to make the myriad of paperwork that followed. It was not easy to get authorization to put a spell with love potions on others. “By the time I applied for my license they had not yet approved the producer-seller of soaps, therefore I had to prove that I would only mix the already developed and will add natural ingredients. This is nothing new; it has been done for a long time in the world. It was difficult, but eventually I got the patent. ”
Red wine, coffee with mint, zeolite, chamomile with lime, honey, cocoa butter. Ideal soaps for combating fungi and herpes, scrubs, healing and moisturizing, have been the result of her experiments. “Where is the laboratory? The kitchen of my house, where after much practice I have managed my own devices, I know what works and how to achieve a higher quality product. It is not about mixing only; you have to know at what temperature the other components are added. Now that I have achieved a status among customers I’d keep looking for new plants, new natural properties “.
Soap making: A business possible in Cuba?
“The first thing is to have a great desire to start a business and not get beat by the obstacles which exist from the beginning,” Sandra says. In addition, there must be initial funding and materials for at least the first three months, as this provides the guarantee of not having to close if there is one missing. And most important: we must “make as many people fall in love with the project, so that all can work together sometime. One has to be passionate about his idea and be able to infect others, that is essential. ”
For this witch-artisan, another element that makes possible the development of a business like hers and others in Cuba is the fact that private initiatives that have already arisen, contribute to the advancement of which they are born. “There are, for example, people who make a paper for packaging of formidable quality and beauty, there are those who are dedicated to making promotional leaflets or customize different objects. It has created a network that offers a variety of services to the population and, within it, other self-employed people. Many think they cannot and do not even try, but there are ways, and legal, I’m not talking about any invention “.
In terms of raw materials, it is true that there are some, such as coconut oil and sweet almond oil fragrances that Sandra purchase abroad through friends who travel or live outside the island, however, she acquires majority in the country. “Chamomile tea, for example, I do with dried flowers of this plant sold in species stores in Old Havana. There I also buy mint and rosemary. ”
Others like zeolite talc, she says, was sold recently in CUP in industrial product markets.”At the time I took the opportunity and bought a quantity large enough to have reserves. Similarly, honey and red wine can be purchased in the country. On the other hand, you can rent space and hire labor. Nobody says it’s a matter of opening and closing the eyes, especially because there is not a place where to buy all that one needs, just say it’s possible to do it and get good results. ”
“I always wanted to have a soap shop and I did it. Who knows now that they approved licenses for soap producer-seller recently, in a few months they also permit the production of other products. So, my dream could continue coming true: develop an extensive line of cosmetics that includes, in addition to soaps, creams, skin toners, among other products. If they let me I keep on dreaming high and bewitching others with healing and fragrant potions “.