The Camel Soap Factory wins B2C Small Business of the Year award, 2019
When Stevi Lowmass (pictured left) saw a gap in the gift market for unique, locally-made goods, she came up with the idea to produce natural soaps in her kitchen in Dubai using fresh camels’ milk. Six years later, this deceptively simple concept has evolved into a thriving business, winning The Camel Soap Factory the B2C Small Business of the Year award, 2019.
Lowmass, CEO and founder of the company, says that when she came to the UAE in 2002, there was very little for visitors to buy that reflected the UAE’s culture or incorporated local materials. Many of the items that were available were made in India or China.
“Inspired by a factory I’d seen in Australia,” she says. “I decided to create a product that was beautiful, kind to the environment, that reflected the history of the region,that could be bought by tourists and visitors to the region as a memory of their visit.”
A smart move considering the government’s drive to make the UAE a premier tourist destination with more than 16 million visitors flocking to the country in 2019.
Since its inception in 2013, the company has recorded double and triple-figure growth each year and, after capturing a significant slice of the local gifting market, is now focused on increasing product range and pushing the brand into new territories.
“We see increased demand for our products for daily skincare where we are available in branches of major supermarkets across the UAE,” says Lowmass. “We have been embraced by event organisers, corporates, tourist boards and government departments to whom we provide gifts for special events, weddings and corporate gifts.”
But the company faces stiff competition as it heads into the skincare space, where major brands tend to dominate.
“We keep our focus on providing high quality, sustainably produced products that reflect our love of the region,” says Lowmass. “We believe by keeping our eye on what our customers want, we keep ahead of the competition.”
Cleary the strategy is working, as the company currently exports to Oman, Pakistan, China, Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Sweden, Switzerland and Germany, with 7 more countries targeted for future deals.
Lowmass draws entrepreneurial inspiration from her father, who rose from humble beginnings in London to build one of the biggest businesses in Africa.
“He taught me about the power of respecting your employees, and valuing every individual who works for you from the most menial to the most senior,” says Lowmass.
These early lessons in business continue to shape recruitment and staff development at The Camel Soap Factory, is where untrained new recruits with the right ‘can-do’ attitude are able to learn and quickly take on responsibility. Employees are also introduced to broader aspects of the business such as lean manufacturing. With a staff turnover at close to zero per cent, the strategy is clearly a success.
“Working at The Camel Soap Factory is a bit like working for a family,” says Lowmass.
The Gulf Capital SME Awards is an annual platform that is dedicated to celebrating and recognising the outstanding contributions of SMEs like The Camel Soap Factory in helping to build and grow the regional economy.
If you would like to share your incredible SME journey, then register for the Gulf Capital SME Awards 2020 today and submit your entry!