DURBAN entrepreneur Deborah Gouws, below right, is manufacturing handmade soaps to supply a niche market in the health and beauty sector.     Supplied
DURBAN entrepreneur Deborah Gouws, below right, is manufacturing handmade soaps to supply a niche market in the health and beauty sector. Supplied
Picture:    Supplied
Picture: Supplied
Durban - WHEN Durban mom Deborah Gouws started tinkering around making hand-made soaps after her daughter was diagnosed with eczema, she had no idea that her home remedies would one day turn into a small manufacturing business.

Gouws, founder of Arabella Natural Handmade Soaps, who manufactures a range of soaps free of paragons, sodium lauryl sulfate and harmful additives, has tapped into a niche market of people with skin conditions and those concerned about their health and the environment.

“When my daughter was born she had eczema on her eyelids at 12 days old and I decided not to use any chemicals on her and just used water,” Gouws said.

“I started researching the different products and learned about all the chemicals that go into them. Chemicals penetrate the skin in 20 seconds and get into the bloodstream, and there's a lot of research showing possible links between synthetic harmful ingredients and cancer,” Gouws said.

“Initially I made soaps only for home consumption, then to give friends and family. But they wanted me to make more and I started doing more research on the possible combinations and colours,” she said.

Gouws sources and selects her ingredients to make her soaps from scratch, using caustic soda, water and a combination of plant oils.

“Instead of using artificial colourants and fragrances, we only use clays from the Earth and plant-based powders and essential oils for fragrances.”

Her range of soaps includes lavender, choc mint made with raw cacao powder, a detoxing charcoal soap, lemongrass, rose geranium and teatree-lemon-nutmeg. Some customers use the choc-mint soap as a fluoride- free alternative to commercial toothpaste.

Gouws manufactures her soaps at premises in Assagay and sells to her growing base of customers at markets and via direct postal order.

She is negotiating with local independent Spar stores to stock her products.

“We're planning to expand the range and to do a shampoo bar, and would eventually like to make all types of body care products such as lotions, balms, ointments, natural deodorants and face creams,” Gouws said.

Gouws said she had noticed a big movement towards natural hand- made products in recent years due to awareness of health and environmental issues.

The Mercury