Charlene Mercieca, owner of Soap Café tells VIDA all about her business venture, how it started, the trials and tribulations involved, mainly cancer, and where she sees it going in the future.

Beginnings

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Proudly Made in Malta

From a young age, I was always one of the ‘odd’ kids who never really knew what they wanted to become. I just aspired to be happy, and my business venture brought me one huge step closer to having that aspiration fulfilled. I started out into the soap and beauty product industry out of my own personal need; growing up I experienced a lot of ailments. I had alopecia, eczema, IBS, constipation, blemishes and the whole palava. You can say that I’ve had more than my fair share of doctor’s visits and medicinal concoctions and with each new prescription came a whole new world of side effects.

Perseverance

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Its the month of love

At age 16, a stubborn teenager who had nothing but anger towards the world, I decided that it was time to start looking for a solution on my own. That stubbornness eventually evolved into research, which was when I discovered a new world of natural remedies. My thirst for knowledge kept growing and growing so I found myself studying herbalism, beauty therapy and aromatherapy. After a while I started making my own concoctions, which enriched my knowledge of the world of soap making. It took me a good ten years to refine my recipes, but once I did, I started giving out my creations as gifts to family and friends.

Success

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Gift Ideas

These gifts were really appreciated and it was at that point when I started getting orders! From there I decided that this could be an actual opportunity for me to earn my bread and butter out of something that I genuinely love while at the same time positively contributing to both society and the environment. I felt like I had finally found my purpose in life and with every year that went by, Soap Café grew; here we are seven years later and I feel as fulfilled as ever. Soap Café is still a relevantly small business, but it has a conscious and humane element.

Cancer Reverses Perspectives

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Soap Café, Detail

I am very open to new possibilities, which is one of the reasons why I don’t stick to a daily routine. I usually wake up round about 7.30 am and do my daily dog related chores. Then we walk to my workshop, answer some emails, and continue making the orders for the day. My shop opens up from 4.30pm to 7.30pm for clients to come and pick up orders or browse the shop at their leisure. Before being diagnosed with cancer  I used to be a workaholic; work, work, work and very little play. Then I realised that life is not just about work or money. I like having money to spend, who doesn’t? But I’m not going to slave to it.

More of a Can-Do Attitude

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Charlene with her dog and renowned Moira Delia

My experience with cancer taught me how to adopt more of a can-do attitude. Life is for living, so you have to make sure to live it well. I like a challenge, don’t get me wrong, but nowadays I won’t take up a project that would consume too much of my time. I’ve become more selective about what I do and that allows me more ‘me time’, so after work, I like to relax with good company and do whatever I feel like doing at the time, even if it’s something really basic like sleeping- why deprive myself? If my present self had the opportunity to speak to my past self and impart some of the knowledge I now have, I would tell her to be good to herself, not to tackle life as a struggle but as an opportunity to grow. I have done all sorts of jobs and I have always seen them as different experiences in my journey to success, rather than different positions.

Up-and-Coming

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Glamourosity.eu. homepage

Soap Café has now grown to a point where I can let it go for a little bit and focus on my other new project: Glamourosity.eu. It is a bit of an extension to Soap Café, but one which focuses more on health and happiness, especially for those who are passing through some rough times. It incorporates videos of guided meditation, feel-good music, healthy recipes and even a directory of health-related stores and services. It’s another project which gives me a lot of satisfaction and which has already helped a lot of people in their own journey of both physical and mental well-being.

I think everyone needs to be open to exploring various possibilities and not be afraid of dreaming big. Aim to serve humanity but with self-respect, and you will succeed in all aspects of your life.

This article first appeared in October 2016. Read the full issue here

© 2017 – VIDA Magazine – Thea Formosa