“Sitti” translates to “my grandma” in Arabic and is the name of a Toronto-based social enterprise that aims to empower and restore hope to refuge communities. Through the nurturing and selling of consciously-crafted goods including olive oil soaps and other lifestyle products inspired by the traditions within the community. The company is a certified women-owned and purpose driven brand committed to providing long-term opportunities and skill development training empowered by an inclusive global economy.
Sitti was co-founded in 2014 by local Toronto resident, Noora Sharrab, CEO of Sitti and co-founder and Middle East regional director of Hopes for Women in Education, an international NGO, and American Jacqueline Sofia, CCO/CIO of Sitti. The two partnered with several skilled female artisans in the Jerash Refugee Camp community in Jordan to create Sitti.
They began with a signature square bar of handmade, cold-pressed olive oil soap. Noora tells us the artisans that work for Sitti are selected from the refugee community they work with. Each person goes through a 3-month training fellowship program before they begin working with Sitti. They are trained in Coldpressed Olive Oil Soap Making, amongst other things at the Sitti Soap Workshop. They are also involve them in multiple community-led efforts, including language exchange educational programs and technical skill development.
Sitti has grown to a line of 21+ popular lifestyle products, including curated products through partnerships with mission-driven brand names. Sitti has evolved into a multi-national brand that can be found in the shops of retailers and distributors such as Holt Renfrew, Whole Foods, and Well.ca, and many others across Canada, the US and the Middle East. Today, Sitti maintains its commitment to providing long-term and sustainable income generation fair wage employment to its growing team staff of over 30 women and men, as well as financial and in-kind support to their local partners several beneficiary programs that align with the enterprise’s social mission.
On April 20, Sitti will launch its first quarterly subscription box. Each box will encompass a unique theme and purpose. The first will celebrate women-owned and innovative lifestyle brands featuring a variety of carefully curated and high quality items for the mind, body and soul. How did this come about?
“A few months ago we ran a survey to ask our audience what they would like to see from us, we thought of offering a subscription style model so our customers can get refills of soap products to their door,” said Noora. “When we reached out our audience responded saying they would love a ‘surprise box’ of items that are handmade and different every few months. We thought what better way to introduce people to new and upcoming handmade artisan products by Sitti + partner with aligned brands to present a ‘surprise and delight’ box that creates real impact and change through employment generation with every box sold.”
“As consumers, you truly have the ability to make a change in the lives of those living in marginalized refugee communities with conscious decisions to choose to buy from impact-driven brands, like Sitti,” said Noora.
She mentioned that the pandemic has served as a reminder to us all that we need to look out for each other. “We all collectively as humanity struggled together with lockdowns and this virus. It’s been heartbreaking to have not just seen our team members personally get sick from COVID but have lost one of our oldest artisan members during this time. Our leadership team has now put wellness and good health at the forefront of our long-term plan to ensure we are not just ensuring the wellbeing of our team but also prioritizing their mental health in the process. This pandemic has had an incredibly heavy toll on a lot of people, and we have seen how much harder it’s been to those in marginalized communities, like the Jerash Refugee Camp in Jordan where Sitti works,” said Noora.
Sitti’s subscription boxes will cost $100 per box, $400 for an annual subscription and can be purchased on the site. Aside from the first Women-owned themed box, future themes will include:
● World Refugee Day Box, highlighting brands that have been started by, employ refugee individuals or give back to refugee communities across the globe.
● Farm-to-Face Box that will approach and ensure their materials are sustainably-sourced, with a focus on transparency throughout the production and manufacturing processes.
● The final box will include local brands started by, employing or giving back to Indigenous communities in North America.
All Sitti products are handmade and all Sitti soap products are 100% vegan, made from sustainably-sourced materials purchasing, cruelty-free no animal testing, biodegradable, paraben-free, phthalate-free, dye-free and alcohol-free.
Take a moment to read posts on their blog like“Work It ‘Til it’s Raw’: 5 uses for your Loofah” a very informative piece on how to use this popular item as well as how to keep it clean. I also enjoyed reading their post on “Self Care: Re-creating a Moroccan Bath at Home” (hint: Mother’s Day is coming up)
Learn more about the company and what’s available in the shop as well as their subscription boxes here at sittisoap.com