We Are Honoring Palestine's Independence Day With The Dirty Lamb
We met the founder of The Dirty Lamb, Ahlam Abbas, at this year's Indie Beauty Expo. Not only were we in awe of her beauty, but the brand had a quirky, yet sophisticated feel and we were immediately intrigued. So we sat down with Ahlam to learn more about her brand and what better day to share her story then today - Palestine's Independence Day. And in case you didn't know, Ahlam is a proud Palestinian and we are honored to have her part of our community of cultural influencers!
When and why did you start The Dirty Lamb? What does the name signify? How did you choose your brand name?
I launched Dirty Lamb in August 2015. As I was going through nursing school I was unhappy with the skin care that was available. I questioned it all, I read every ingredient and wondered why the hell big companies were using it if it had no beneficial value to the consumer. I was looking for an exfoliant that did it all, an all in one. I had a lot of specifications, but shouldn’t I be picky when it comes to what I put on my skin? I knew there were other people out there who were thinking the same thing as me and not just women, but men as well. I took my passion for cooking and creating and aimed it towards a skin care product that was going to be life changing. My first product was created, Dirty Lamb Organic Coffee Scrub.
Why Dirty Lamb? My full name is Ahlam Abbas, I am a Palestinian woman with a difficult name to pronounce. Growing up Lam was my nickname, and it stuck. Originally Dirty Lamb was just a play on words with my name and coffee scrub. I soon realized that having my name be a part of my brand gave me more passion for what I was creating. The word “dirty” was a way of describing me as imperfect. It’s about being comfortable with your imperfections and making the best out of them. I wanted those who felt like a black sheep to know they are powerful and to use it as an advantage in life. Dirty Lamb accepts everyone, we don’t gear our products towards one group of people. I was 100% set on the name. I felt like my meaning of “Dirty Lamb” could mean something different to someone else and I found that cool. I was ready to create products that performed as wildly and efficiently as I did in life. I wanted to create a brand that stood for everything I believed in, it’s still a work in progress but I think every brand is constantly a work in progress.
What are the ingredients for your products and where are they sourced?
Some of my main ingredients are organic Arabic coffee beans (Colombia), Turkish coffee (Turkey), fresh mint (homegrown), turmeric (India), organic coconut oil (Philippines), unrefined organic shea butter (local farmers market). I really take pride in finding the highest quality ingredients for each product I produce. I wanted to create a brand that looked chic & fun, but most importantly delivered real results to the customer.
How do you define beauty?
Beauty to me is feeling comfortable with who you are and what you look like. It’s coming to the realization that beauty is not a competition. Beauty should not be compared. Our differences need to be embraced not hidden. I love when I see someone rocking their natural state (freckles, curly hair, etc) and you can tell they are embracing it “not feeling hidden behind it.” Social media is no longer just showcasing the typical kind of beauty that we were all use to seeing. People around the world are starting to embrace their differences more and more, it has started a movement, it’s really inspiring.
How do you define sustainability?
The simplest way I define sustainability is eco-friendly. I always ask myself what am I doing to give back to the earth today? I wanted to make sure my brand was making a positive impact. Dirty Lamb constantly reuses and recycles, we waste nothing at our production site. All Dirty Lamb products are 100% vegan & 100% cruelty-free. Dirty Lamb gives back to World Animal Protection USA which is a non-profit organization that does everything in their power to protect marine animals, wildlife, and promote humane farming practices. Creating a brand that gives back to the environment was important to me because it allows your customer to impact the world too.
Do you see a shift of natural beauty brands? Do you see advancements in the conscious beauty industry as whole?
YES. Especially since I joined Indie Beauty Expo in NYC this past August. There were over 220 green natural beauty brands from around the world that all brought something unique the table. Of course, there are many variations of natural, but the point is that they are all making a conscious effort and it’s up to the consumer to choose what brand is right for them.
There are huge advancements being made and a lot of them are starting with indie beauty brands. These are the brands that not only put the consumer first but make them more aware of what they are using on their bodies, and how it is affecting their health & environment. I think the most exciting thing to me is seeing big retail stores opening their eyes to natural beauty, it’s starting to spread on their shelves. During the process of this interview I scored a deal with a large retail brand, it’s exciting to see that my brand is becoming a part of the natural beauty movement.
Does being a woman of color influence your brand? If so, how?
Of course, as a Palestinian woman I have been able to embrace my culture through my brand and products I showcase around the world. It is really empowering. Growing up, even now, I don’t see many Palestinian women business owners as I would like to see. I want to change that. I want someone to see me and be like “I can do that too.” The challenges I faced growing up has given me the confidence and courage to get me where I am in my career and for that I am thankful. Being a woman of color influences my branding, products, and the way I run my company.
Why is culture important for your brand? (Turkish/ Arabica Coffee)
Without my middle-eastern culture I can honestly say my brand wouldn’t exist. Culture is what makes each brand unique. I decided to use a few ingredients that I grew up with and that reminds me of home when I smell them. The Turkish coffee I use is a very fine coffee grind that has a strong, rich, warm scent. Not only is Turkish coffee good for your digestion, but it has amazing benefits for skin. It helps remove black heads, tighten skin, prevents dehydration/dryness, and so much more when combined with the other ingredients. The arabica coffee I get are whole coffee beans that I grind up, which gives a more invigorating exfoliation to the skin. It promotes blood flow circulations which diminishes cellulite and can do as much as treat eczema.
What is the biggest challenge you’ve faced?
One of the biggest challenges I’ve faced is realizing I can’t do it all. I’ve had to let go of some of the things I was doing to focus on different issues as my brand continued to grow. It was a challenging process to have to hire people in a short amount of time to reach order sales that has increased 500%+ in just the past few months. Scaling up while preserving the quality of each product has been difficult. It has resulted in a longer turnaround time as I REFUSE to compromise quality on even one Dirty Lamb product. Each product is as good as the next one, no matter what our demand is.
What has inspired you the most?
Family. My Mom and Dad raised me in a positive environment and supported me 100% in following my dreams. They gave me A LOT, while instilling core values to work for everything I have. Neither of my parents went to university, so both being first generation they had to adapt to new culture, language, and a hustle mentality that rubbed off on me.
My two older brothers who are also entrepreneurs continue to make a huge impact on me. We all do something a little bit different, so it’s fun to bounce ideas around. They are my best friends. When we get together there is a perfect mix of fun and “work,” which makes it seem like were not working. I think you need that kind of environment when you are in the process of creating something great.
What has been your greatest achievement thus far?
My greatest achievement has been taking natural ingredients with very minimal negative impact on the earth and turning them into products that are improving my customer’s skin. My main goal was to make people happy with real results. I love receiving emails that show results with before & after pictures, or explain how Dirty Lamb has changed their life. There is nothing more rewarding than that.