What is Alepp?
Alepp is an olive and laurel berry oil vegan bar soap that is nourishing and gentle on the skin, smells amazing and uses no plastic packaging. But Alepp as a product is just the tip of the iceberg and is sustained by many other layers of support – a big vision, an operational business, a registered charity and a social enterprise.
Alepp is beautiful gentle product steeped in tradition. The key ingredient is laurel berry oil which gives the soap its distinctive earthy fragrance much loved in Syria and Turkey today. It has been made in the same way for centuries in the Middle East. The soap has a golden coloured outer layer, while its interior remains a beautiful olive green. The nine month drying process makes it hard and retains its distinctive and aroma and gentle foam. The soaps are hand cut and stamped in the same way they have been for centuries. At the start of the soap making process the ingredients are olive oil, laurel berry oil, lye and water but by the end of its processing just the olive oil and laurel berry oil remain. This means it is biodegradable, gentle on the earth as well as good for the skin.
The history of the manufacture of laurel oil soap goes back to the beginning of the Middle Ages where the first soap manufacturing workshops emerged in Aleppo. This is due to the abundance of laurel berry oil and olive oil the industry grew to become an important and valuable commodity and it was exported across the Middle East. The olive harvest and pressing season begins each year in November and continues until March/April with the whole process taking nine months including the critical drying process. Today, Aleppo continues to be affected by war with most of the soap-making industry destroyed when the war was at its peak in 2011. Most of the traditional soap makers fled across the border into Turkey. The soap industry in Aleppo is slowly returning and we have a strong commitment to importing our soap from Syria in order to support the soap makers to remain in Aleppo.
Alepp’s vision is to bring good to the world and it will do this by funding organisations that support vulnerable asylum seekers and refugees in Australia. As a social enterprise, all profits from the company will go to towards this purpose. Australia has a terrible track record in its treatment of those seeking asylum. The UNHCR Refugee Agency has reported that ‘Asylum-seekers who arrive in Australia without a visa are subjected to a number of punitive measures that can significantly impair their mental health and general well-being’. They lack medical, legal and housing support and often end up in vulnerable situations. We think it is important to talk about the issues and we will amplify the voices of asylum seekers and refugees with lived experience here in Australia.
Alepp’s starting point is to have a (measurable) positive impact as much as we can. As a social enterprise, our express purpose is to support asylum seekers and refugees, but there are many other ways to live up to our vision to bring good to the world. Our primary impact metric will how much money we donate towards our purpose. We do not consider ourself a ‘non-profit’ – our aim is to make as much profit as possible in support of our purpose, and we are definitely not interested in making a loss. This means keeping the business running efficiently. We will publish our financial activities each year which will show how much we have donated to be transparent. So Alepp is both a little and a lot. It’s a simple product sitting on top of a whole bunch of complexity.
Welcome into our world!