Women run homemade soap company in Havana

HAVANA, Feb. 21th  – The sweet smell of soap welcomes those who enter the second floor of a home in the Vibora neighborhood of Havana.

Sandra Aldama, who makes soap for a living, told Local 10 News that her business was inspired by her grandmother, who worked with a French perfume maker before the revolution.

Aldama’s company is called D-Brujas (Of Witches) — a playful name for a group of women making what they call “magical potions for the body.”

They believe that the business is the only homemade soap company on the island. Aldama said they first use a French base soap that has no color or fragrance. Each bar is grated like cheese and then melted.

The women used to use a pot to melt the soap, but now they use crockpots because they said it’s more efficient. After two to three hours, the workers pour in different fragrances, herbs or other natural ingredients.

At $2.50 to $3.50 a bar, Aldama said her clients are not just tourists, but Cubans who are willing to fork over what for an average Cuban is pricey.

“Cubans sometimes buy more than tourists,” she said.

Cintia Nunez is a lawyer by trade, but said she left her profession to try something new and uses her skills to help the business. She said she makes more money now than she did before.

Aldama’s business offers an array of options, but what they don’t get is consistency when it comes to accessing raw material. Aldama is currently bringing in the fragrances and essential oils from abroad.

She said they can’t import or export commercial quantities, but their dreams haven’t faded. Aldama wants her products to be known nationally and wants to produce more. She said her wish list is long for her business, but what they do have is optimism.