Randa Saif, Faculty of Commerce graduate, wife and mother of two children, and El Wadi El Gedid native, was inspired by the nature and raw beauty of her home town when starting her project Natural Corner. This proactive entrepreneur’s project makes cute and practical products using palm waste. The idea first came to her after she used dates to fix a skin issue she had. After that she learned more about soapmaking and started producing date soap. Now, Natural Corner produces many more palm products. The project provides opportunities for artisans, and is also environmentally-friendly. We speak to her to learn more about it.
What were the main obstacles in your way? And how did you overcome them?
The idea itself was strange to my friends and family; they were not convinced, which was a challenge. I also tried to reach out to a specialized entity to learn about soapmaking, and that did not work as well. So, I started browsing international websites specialized in skincare and soapmaking. I studied them well and applied them dozens of times until I produced the most beautiful date soap. I had the soap tested and received a certificate that it abides by European standards.
The idea itself was strange to my friends and family; they were not convinced, which was a challenge
Of all source materials to choose from, why did you choose straw?
I have always wanted to contribute in solving the palm waste issue in the village. I just did not know how. I read more about how to use this waste and preserve the beautiful environment around me. I learned how to make Arabian coffee from date seeds, date molasses which is full of vitamins and minerals, and palm loofahs. And I join, with the help of the ladies in the village, in crafting out of palm straw, especially making fashionable items and home accessories.
You combine fashionable designs with this traditional craft. How difficult is it to get the artisans you work with to follow new, edgy designs?
My goal from learning this craft was to preserve our heritage and identity, while at the same time adding a modern touch. And because the pieces are made with love by the ladies in the village, they come out beautiful. I never find any difficulties working with them, because we work as one family, and we try to bring our points of view closer, which works for the benefit of the product at the end of the day.
My goal from learning this craft was to preserve our heritage and identity, while at the same time adding a modern touch
In your opinion, is the Egyptian public now more receptive to environmentally-friendly, sustainable projects?
The Egyptian public has become more aware and cultivated. The people are far more accepting of environmentally-friendly projects now than before.
What are your future plans for Natural Corner?
I’m planning on diversifying Natural Corner’s products, and starting initiatives to promote recycling.
Randa is an extremely inspiring individual who takes pride in her work and strives to constantly learn. She has taken plenty of online seminars on the manufacturing of beauty products, and has also attended entrepreneurship seminars because she wants to be involved in all aspects of her project. We cannot wait to hear more about Natural Corner and its success.