Based in Cairo, Mona Awaad is the founder of Meraki, an all-natural line for skincare products with the motto:
“A blend of the purest plant extracts made with love.”
Mona majored in Chemistry at the American University in Cairo (AUC) and fate brought her to meet and work directly with the British founder of The Body Shop at Abu Dhabi and Qatar, where she was the first non-British formulator!
Later on, she got to work with big names like Channel, Dior and Clarins. When she had to quit the full-time jobs for a full-time mother vacancy, she still did consulting work for major companies in Egypt.
Her journey as a pioneer in the field made her come to the realization that she has a soft spot for the all-natural products and for engaging first hand with her clients.
We talked to Mona about her new brand “Meraki” and got to know more about her life, skincare brand and the wisdom she has to pass for the younger generations.
“I don’t like using makeup and I believe in taking care of your skin.”
Mona only decided to make a business out of her skincare passion when her close friends and family kept asking her to formulate some anti-aging and acne products, especially for them.
The thing that made her realize she needs to turn this passion into a small business, two years ago, and with the support of her kids and friends, she started establishing Meraki from scratch. She had many trials and errors until she was finally set on a strategy.
For the brand name, she didn’t want something that is too cliché or overdone, she dug deep and found the name “Meraki” which means, putting your heart, soul and essence into something!
“I believe if you put your heart into something, it will succeed.”
And for the branding, Mona wanted the packaging to be as simple as it could get; nothing too commercial, something that reflects the nature of the brand and would make both millennial and older generations relate.
The thing that also made her decide on launching only as an online shop. A dear friend of hers, owning a big branding and advertising company, made that happen.
According to Mona, a store sends a commercial vibe that she wants to avoid. And she would never compromise the quality of her products for the luxury of a fancy store somewhere.
“I reflected on my younger self, as a user, and what troubled me with my skin. It was mainly acne.”
So, she started immediately on formulating an acne treatment that was different and more efficient than anything else in the market.
“Some people think that if you have acne, you don’t need oils.”
Mona explains that the biggest problem with acne creams is that they overwork the skin so much to the point where they strip it off all the natural oils that nourish it as well. Hence, her main focus is to come up with a treatment that removes access oil that causes pimples and acne without leaving the skin too dry. From here came the idea of making all her facial masks and serums oil-based.
“I am very proud of my serums.”
I have 3 serums; each have 17 oils in them, some for the irritations, some for the under skin pimples, over skin pimples and open pores.
The reason she uses serums and not only creams is because serums are mainly made from essential oils. They have smaller molecules so they penetrate the deeper layers of the skin easily. Unlike the creams made from Shea butter and other heavy components that only affect the surface of the skin. Mona explains.
“I don’t use preservatives at all.”
All of Meraki’s products are 100% made of high quality raw ingredients. The thing that Mona is so keen on and feels makes her stand out in the skincare scene.
She also told us about her micro derma; a vitamin-c, oils and sugar based scrub. The one she recommends her younger and older clients to use regularly.
“Our skin naturally renews itself. For youth it’s every 21 days and for older people, 28 days. The accumulation of all this dead skin will give your complexion a dull look. So a scrub every two days is a must!”
But her favorite product, and also her clients’, so far, is the Revitalizing Coco Powder Mask. She personally uses it as it gives you an instant glow whenever your face looks tired and you have to go out. It is made of dark-Belgium chocolate, clay, aloe vera and molasses.
“It’s a booster. It works for ever skin type and all ages. It’s just a joker. When I tell people it’s made of dark chocolate, they fall in love with it!”
Mona makes her soap the traditional way. She doesn’t add them under an oven, dryer or subject them to any kind of heat. She makes them the old fashioned way, by leaving them out for several weeks. This makes them healthier and longer-lasting.
Her latest creation is the cellulite treatment, which will be added to her “Body Products” alongside the foot creams, body butter and body scrubs.
“I use local ingredients and I import some that I can’t find I Egypt.”
“Formulating is like cooking. Using boxed mushroom is not like using fresh ones.”
“Some of my clients send me messages of their before and after results and it makes me trust my natural methods even more.”
For Meraki, Mona prefers using good quality raw ingredients. Some she can find here in Egypt and others she orders especially from abroad. Like lavender oil or Argan oil, those you can’t find here.
Mona believes it’s never too late to follow your passion in life. Given her background in NGOS, the main goal behind Meraki is helping as much people as possible.
“I am not young, so I don’t have the ambition of making loads of money. People deserve good quality and reasonable prices. This is what I’m offering with Meraki.”
You could order Meraki’s products now directly through their Instagram page: “Meraki_naturalcare.” Mona also usually takes part in Galleria 40’s Farmer Markets, look her up next time you’re there!