Huda Organics, the British-Somali owned skincare company specializing in qasil powder is making a wave on social media. The company which was launched in 2017 by Huda Ahmed has gained a cult following with its multi-purposeful approach to the uniquely Somali product.
“Growing up in a Somali household, qasil was an everyday staple. By the time I was 18, I was a natural beauty enthusiast and I was really confused that I never heard about qasil from any of the beauty and skincare influencers that I followed. I Googled qasil one day out of curiosity and I couldn’t find anything about it online. I didn’t understand how it had somehow slipped through the cracks of the beauty community. That’s when I decided to start Huda Organics”, says Huda on her motivation to start the brand.
At the start of her journey, Huda began selling her product on Etsy. “I used the money I saved up working at KFC to buy some product containers and some envelopes so I could begin selling qasil on Etsy”. However, Huda soon realized that her journey wouldn’t be an easy one. “Looking back now, I probably bought too many supplies because I didn’t sell any qasil for months and months. I was a little embarrassed at the time as I had convinced my family that despite not having any real knowledge of the industry or marketing, I was about to start a new skincare movement and sell out overnight”.
As setting up a business is never an easy task, Huda faced her fair share of challenges which all proved to be major learning lessons. “People did not automatically become qasil devotees and I didn’t sell out overnight as I had too ambitiously thought I would. It took months for anyone to make an order. I didn’t really make more than 1-3 sales a month for a long time”, Huda tells us. “I felt like I had built up this huge hype in my own head around qasil and it really hurt when nobody took me seriously. I thought about giving up a lot. I think the reason I didn’t give up is because I really believed in qasil”. As all good things take time, it wasn’t until 2020 that one of her videos on TikTok went viral and sales exploded.
Running a business during a global pandemic has also been a considerable challenge for the brand. “By far my biggest challenge has been shipping qasil from Somalia. Travelling to Somalia pre-Covid was difficult enough. My video went viral during the pandemic. Sales exploded. Somalia was listed as a ‘red’ country by the UK for a long time, which means travel to and from was almost impossible. With only one airline travelling between the two countries, and that airline favouring passengers over cargo, it was so difficult to get stock to the UK so we could ship it abroad”, Huda stated.
Huda also had to teach herself about how qasil was actually harvested, its ecological impact and what went into the creation of the final product. “As I was going to collect the qasil for family and for sales whenever I visited Somalia, I was able to see first hand how the qasil leaves were picked and crushed by the locals”, she tells us. Huda Organics also puts great emphasis on sustainability and the team seem to be dedicated to growing and maintaining their ethical supply chain, and in particular, providing economic opportunities for women. “By the time my TikTok video went viral and I needed to hire a team in Somalia, I had advisors who helped me implement sustainable harvesting strategies. We were also able to launch a plant a tree initiative that I hope to begin to work on next year. These are matters that now, with more capital, we are able to improve on year by year. I’m proud that we aren’t working back to front on sustainability”, she tells us.
Fast forward to 2021, Huda Organics is now a small, female-driven team, with offices in London and Somalia that ships its product worldwide. Their goal is a noble one, as they are striving to give back to the country their product is sourced from: Somalia. “I now view qasil as more than just skincare, but as a vehicle for social reform in Somalia. My goal is for Huda Organics to stop being just a skincare company, specializing in qasil products. I want it to become a vast network of independent, yet interconnected organisations. This network would encompass everything from farmers, to distributors to government agencies that all affect and are affected by one another to create an environment in which they can develop and thrive”, Huda tells us.
“In other words, I want Huda Organics to become a tree trunk of sorts that simply supports the rest of the branches growing out of it”.
To buy Huda Organics qasil powder, visit their website here.