Saturday, September 24, 2016

We are amazed to witness the evolution of so many new brands led mostly by women, which cater to natural and handmade products, sprouting up in Pakistan and India over a short period of time. One such Pakistani brand is YellowBerry. Recently, we had the chance to have a Q&A session with Zara Tahir of YellowBerry. Chartered Accountant by profession and a soap maker by passion, Zara is an amazingly talented girl, who hails from Islamabad, Pakistan.

Infused with interesting combinations of different natural ingredients and Essential Oils, her gorgeous soaps scream L.U.X.U.R.Y! Read on to know more about her evolution as a soap maker as she shares her goals, some interesting anecdotes of the challenges that she met as a soap-maker and tips and tricks for purchasing natural skincare products as well as the brand’s best sellers and new products in the pipeline.

Q: What do you do other than YellowBerry. I would like you to share more about yourself with our readers.

A: I am a UK-qualified Chartered Accountant by profession. Currently, I work as a Lead Accountant in the Corporate Accounting section in OMV, an Austrian oil & gas multinational organisation.

Q: Being a sucker for all things yellow and berry-licious, I just love your brand name. How did you come up with such a unique name?

A: Oh my God! You and I think alike. That's exactly it! I have been in love with Yellow for as long as I can remember. I have a weakness for yellow. It's fun, it's energetic, it is such a happy colour! And berries! Oh my, who can resist those?

Q: How would you define your brand’s philosophy in a few words?

A: YellowBerry aims to introduce a fresh, new concept of natural handmade soaps in the Pakistani market. It aims to educate people about the goodness of healthy cosmetics and "Get Back to Nature".

Q: Handcrafted soap-making is relatively new in Pakistan. How did you get into the business of soap-making?

AIt all started when I wanted to make something thoughtful for my mom. Something she would appreciate and value. That's how the idea of soaps came up. Now it’s a hobby I can't get enough of! The 'hobby' has somewhat turned commercial since, to my surprise, a lot of people appreciate the concept and want to try the soaps out.

Q: Are all the tools and ingredients needed by you readily available in Pakistan, or you have to import them sometimes?

A: No, all the tools and ingredients are not available in Pakistan I am afraid. I have friends and family who do favours for me and get my stuff from the US and Canada when they make trips abroad. It's too expensive to have it imported, given the delivery costs are more than the actual cost of the products. The search is never-ending, though. Every day something new in the Pakistani market is introduced that we find can be used for soap-making. Sometimes, it can be frustrating but other times it is such a thrill!!!

Q: Whom would you label as one soap maker who has been your inspiration throughout your journey as a soap maker?

A: There is a soapmaker in Key West, Florida who has a small shop by the name, ‘Naples’. I was there last year with my husband, and the product line at her shop left me in complete awe. The quality, the finesse, the colours, scents, and packaging..everything was perfect. And to think it was all handmade was a reason enough to be inspired! I wonder how many batches she has to make per day to keep the shop running. I suppose A LOT since it was located near Duval street, a tourist hub!

Q: Do you remember your first experience of making any product. Any interesting story that you'd like to share? 

A: I remember trying to make Cinnamon Honey Soap and it was a terrible disaster. At the time, I did not know that honey, beeswax, cinnamon essential oil, clove essential oil and nutmeg essential oil ALL heat up your soap. And, these precisely were THE ingredients in my little recipe. The result being, the soap poured out of the mould like lava, and after it cooled down after a good few hours, it had horrible unsightly tunnels in the soap where the soap had eaten away itself. I can't even begin to tell you how dreadful it smelt. The whole house reeked. I had to chuck it all away! What a shame!

Q: I have observed that you work with a wide variety of natural ingredients. Where do you usually draw your inspirations from?

A: It really is all inspired by nature. I love plants and flowers. I share my love for gardening and landscaping with my husband. So, my brain is automatically always thinking about the benefits of various herbs and flowers and how they can be incorporated not only in our soaps but our diet as well. We recently planted an almond tree, two lychees, a pear, a pomegranate, a peach tree, two lemons and a couple of magnolias in our front yard. Besides, we also have a little patch of vegetables, so you can say I'm a sucker for all things natural.

Q: Soap making is an art of its own kind. Did you receive any formal training?

A: Art, it is indeed! Though, I am nowhere near the level I aspire to be at. I haven't received any formal training but I'm learning every day. Sometimes the non-availability of tools/soap making equipment is a big handicap. Nevertheless, I try to make my way around them. At YellowBerry, we eventually want to have a regular product line, and then a more dynamic artisan line with limited edition soaps. So, watch out for that!

Q: Are your soaps cold processed?

A: Yes, they are all cold processed. Partly because we don’t find Melt and Pour Bases here in Pakistan. But it’s more because, in a CP Soap, I get to control each and every ingredient that goes into my soap. So, I know that the quality is never being compromised. Each ingredient is handpicked and though the final product takes longer to make, by the end of it, I have the complete and utter satisfaction of knowing my soap bars are of high quality.

Q: What are your favourite ingredients to work with and which product do you enjoy making most?

A: It has to be the fragrances and essential oils, and the colours. Since YellowBerry soaps are all cold processed, it is interesting to see how these colours, fragrances, and essential oils behave in the entire process. Also, I love doing the décor of my soaps with dried flowers and fruit peels. So, I would say I love making my Juicy Orange & Rose Soap. It involved a swirling technique with Paprika, which I absolutely enjoy doing.

Q: Social media is a great platform for entrepreneurs running small home-based businesses. Has it actually aided in the growth of a strong customer base for your brand?

A: As much as it has, I would still like to see some more growth via Instagram & Facebook both. It’s not anywhere what we had anticipated, but it’s a start and we're very very excited.

Q: Running an online business can be pesky at times.  Have you ever encountered any bad experiences with your customers regarding payments, order cancellations etc?

A: Well, there have been many instances where orders had been booked but payments never received. The reservation was held for 2 weeks once because the customer would promise to pay up. In some of such instances, genuine customers lost out since the product was already booked elsewhere. That's bad for business and is very frustrating too.

Q: You also introduced a body butter and a solid shampoo bar some time ago. Are there any other products or new variants of these products in the pipeline that you’d like to share with us?

A: Yes, the body butter was winter balm made out of Whipped Coconut Oil, Green Tea, and Vanilla Pod seeds. It is not a regular summer feature since Coconut oil doesn’t retain its hardness in our weather. We don't add preservatives or artificial hardeners in our products, so we thought to leave it as a winter-only seasonal product. The Solid Shampoo is our Grapefruit infused Jojoba and Lavender soap. Beautiful lather. Light, fresh fragrance. Building upon that, we will be bringing out liquid shampoos as well, since most people can relate to those more.

Q: Where do you see your brand in next five years?

A: It's one baby step at a time. But we are planning a website very soon so that customers would be able to shop from there directly. And, if that picks up, I really hope to have a store like ‘Naples’ one day.

Q: Are your products stocked at any store nationwide? Name your best-selling product(s)?

A: We sell at But not at any stores at the moment. Our best selling products would have to be the Lemongrass & Sage Soap and Juicy Orange & Sweet Rose Soap. Our Chamomile Tea Soap was also a huge success.

Q: Any tips for consumers of naturally handcrafted products on what things they should look out for before making a purchasing a product for the first time?

A: Look up the ingredients on the labels. Many times, I have seen 'ALL-natural' handmade soaps with Strawberry Essential oil as an ingredient. But, let me tell you, there is no such thing as Strawberry essential oil. It does not exist. Not yet anyway! Just like you don’t have a chocolate essential oil, you don't have one for strawberry either. It’s a huge misconception. You have strawberry fragrances, sure, but not its essential oil. They haven't found a way to extract it yet. So, I’d suggest people to google the ingredients of the products to see if they make sense.

Q:  Lastly, any advice for people who are new in this business or aspire to be successful soap makers?

A: Be patient! This involves hard work and dedication to your craft! People will not appreciate it at first, but that is just their lack of perspective and knowledge. You know better!

Thank you for your precious time, Zara. We wish you all the best in future! 


To place an order with YellowBerry, you can drop a line at the brand’s official facebook page, HERE or the brand’s official stockist/retailer  

When asked about customisations, Zara replied:

“No customised soap at the moment. This is due to (again) lack of availability of various soap making ingredients and equipment. People tend to come up with very wild ideas for soap, which are impossible to make in the absence of appropriate material. Rather than compromising on quality and creating substandard products, I'd rather not take custom orders at all.”

WISE decision, we’d say.


YellowBerry uses TCS for shipping at the moment. However, the brand has been recently registered with BlueEx and now offers Cash on Delivery facility as well. For the inter-city, the delivery cost is to be paid by the customers. 


Having tried and tested the Patchouli, Vanilla & Oatmeal Soap and Anise Star & Jasmine Swirl Soap by YellowBerry, and being satisfied with the results, I would strongly recommend those. You can check out my review of those HERE. Besides, the best sellers from the brand namely, Lemongrass & Sage Soap and Juicy Orange & Sweet Rose Soap and the Chamomile Tea Soap look equally promising. Moreover, we’ve also been eyeing the Mango Peach Salsa Soap,  and the Passionfruit Papaya soap, Chocolate Soap, Cucumber Melon Soap and the Green Apple Soap recently introduced by the brand. However, I'd recommend y'all to seek consultation from the team of 'YellowBerry' before making a purchase. Don't forget to mention your skin/hair type and any specific allergic conditions to any natural ingredient(s) in particular. 

Hope y’all enjoyed the read. Don't forget to drop a comment below! 

Until next time,


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