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Exploring Life & Business with Rafia Simjee & Imaan Tazi of Rafia Naturals Skincare

Today we’d like to introduce you to Rafia Simjee & Imaan Tazi.

Hi Rafia & Imaan, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today? We started our journey of natural beauty in Morocco. It began in 2007 when our family moved to Fes, Morocco to be closer to family. One day we traveled from Fes down to the South region of Morocco and came across a Berber Women’s Cooperative – who produced and sold cold-pressed organic argan oil from their land. 

I noticed the women’s skin had the most smooth and glowing complexion I’ve ever seen. It became obvious to me that the secret to beautiful and youthful skin was applying pure argan oil daily.I purchased a liter of pure cold-pressed argan oil and soon brought it back with me to Orange County, California in 2009. Upon arrival I introduced the rare oil at the time to Mother’s Market who purchased the argan oil products to sell in stores. 

It didn’t stop there – I wanted to incorporate argan oil into a natural face and body cleanser. I reached out to a soap-making company in San Diego and gave them my special formula which included argan oil and Atlas ghassoul clay powder from Morocco. 

When we received the soap, I was not satisfied with the final product at all. My eldest daughter Sara dragged me to our computer and started ordering soap-making supplies for me. In disbelief that I could make the soap myself, Sara looked at me and said, “You can do it mama, you have been raised with traditional ayurvedic herbs/medicine since childhood. You can incorporate your experience into soap making”. At this moment I had a groundbreaking thought, “Why not?”. 

It took me about three months of experimenting in my kitchen to master my argan oil base formula. At six months, I could make any soap I could think of using only organic/natural oils, herbs, and spices. After the soap went through its 4-week curing phase, I sold and distributed to Mothers Market and began advertising on Facebook in 2011.

I received positive feedback from the community, and Rafia Naturals Skincare was born.I faced many difficulties bringing my brand to life. As a single mother of 3 kids, it grew expensive to purchase materials. I could not afford hiring a graphics designer. For years I could only handle selling my products at local events. 

In 2014 an unfortunate and tragic accident happened to my middle child Imaan at her school. She suffered a traumatic cervical spine injury, which left her incapable of attending a regular high school as she was transitioning from grade 8 to grade 9. Most of my time as a mother was spent seeing different doctor’s appointments to come up with a treatment plan for my daughter. 

Imaan attended an extended learning high school in 2018 due to the chronic pain she was left with since her injury. Suffering with daily migraines and depression, she desperately needed an outlet to divert her attention from the pain. Imaan chose to take a graphics design art class. She had the privilege of being guided by Vicky Artiano who taught her how to use industry software for graphics. Imaan steadily grew her set of skills over time and learned how to create professional grade labels and design a minimalistic website for Rafia Naturals. 

I was beyond impressed with my daughter’s ability to design and took her under my wings as a partner in our small business. We still work side by side up till this day. 

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
The biggest challenges along our journey were struggling to maintain a balance between work and home life. Rafia became a single mother in 2011. It was a struggle to take care of her children and produce an income for the household all while her middle child Imaan was experiencing relentless pain from her injury that occurred in school in 2014. 

Our small business provided enough for us to get by. This gave us more drive and motivation to work 100% on soap-making and creating natural skincare. Imaan joined in helping to build our business with her graphics skills and also taught herself how to advertise on social media, working at her own pace.

Appreciate you sharing that. What should we know about Rafia Naturals Skincare?
We specialize in Moroccan-inspired luxury skincare that’s handcrafted, organic & 100% vegan. We travel to Morocco once a year to the incredible South semi-desert region and visit the Berber Women’s Cooperatives. Where the women extract the precious golden oil using a centuries-old cold-pressing method – in our presence to ensure our Argan oil is ethically sourced, sustainable, and of the highest quality. The self-governed Cooperative guarantees fair conditions and equal wages for all members of the community. Over the years, their well-earned successes have allowed sufficient economic growth and access to many opportunities for the beber women and their families. 

What sets you apart from others? Unfortunately, most of the Argan oil you see on the market today is a product of harsh unethical conditions, very low wages, and mass production which completely strips the oil of its high quality, nutrients and benefits. To increase profits, these companies use high yield oil presses, which apply high pressure to maximize production. The mechanical friction caused by industrial presses heats the oil far above temperatures acceptable for cold-pressed oil. Heat also alters the chemical composition of the oil, which negatively impacts quality. Even worse, some factories extract Argan oil with chemical solvents such as Hexane to deodorize the natural nutty scent. Authentic argan oil consists of only one ingredient: Argania Spinosa (100% pure cold-pressed Argan oil). Anything else listed in the ingredients is classified as adulterated. Meaning the argan oil has been mixed with other cheaper carrier oils. 

In our handmade soap-making, we absolutely do NOT use any titanium dioxide, micas (added colors), fragrance oils (only 100% natural essential oils and herbs/spices/clays), preservatives, or animal by-products, etc. We utilize small-batch production to ensure high quality. Each soap is hand-cut and stamped by us. 

We are extremely proud of our integrity and transparency in our small business. We are happy to make a positive change in the beauty industry. We only utilize eco-friendly packaging. When you finish using a Rafia Naturals soap bar, there is no leftover plastic bottle to dispose of causing unnecessary pollution for our environment. Our soaps contain 100% natural vegan ingredients from the earth.

All ingredients are ethically and sustainably sourced. We strongly stand against animal testing. Each purchase of our products directly supports the livelihood of the Berber Women’s Cooperatives and their families in Morocco. We encourage 

everyone to also make a positive change starting in their homes. Switch from unnatural store-bought products to natural vegan ingredients of Mother Earth. 

Is there anyone you’d like to thank or give credit to?
Our family deserves credit for the motivation behind our success. We have proven to each other that patience, perseverance, and consistency will never fail you. Especially if you passionately believe and love what you do. 

Pricing:

  • Pure Argan oil 1 oz. $25
  • Handmade luxury soap Bar $15
  • Moroccan Rose water Mist 2 oz. $15
  • Atlas Ghassoul Clay Powder 2 oz. $11

Contact Info:

  • Email: Rafiasoaps@gmail.com
  • Website: www.Rafianaturals.com
  • Instagram: @Rafíanaturals
  • Facebook: @Rafianaturals
  • Other: Tik Tok @Rafianaturals

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