The story behind beauty brand Senteurs d’orient begins with founder Hana Akkari, who was born and raised in Tokyo and found her way to Beirut, where she created handcrafted soaps influenced by both Japanese and Middle Eastern culture. “My mother Hanana, the co-founder of Senteurs d’orient along with her partners Hala and Betty, wanted to create a social business that would contribute to gender equality in Lebanon, while using the savior-faire of local artisans,” says her daughter and co-founder Sarah Akkari. “So, she created the bath and body brand using the skills of local artisans that contribute to the ‘Senteurs Women Initiatives,’ a women empowerment program in partnership with the United Nations via the sale of each product.”
The brand’s beauty philosophy is simple: authentic, natural and sensual. It aims to combine artisanship and raw authentic lifestyle that's“infused by the spirit of the Orient and reflect the multiple ‘beauty of the Easts.’
Sarah, who grew up in Paris, is Syrian-Lebanese and currently lives in New York City, credits some of her earliest beauty memories to the brand’s influence.
“Growing up in a Middle Eastern home with strong Japanese cultural influences (my mom was born and raised in Tokyo), my beauty influence came from the beauty rituals of the Orient, from the far East to the Middle East, precisely from Japanese and Lebanese influences,” she tells thirteen lune.
“Both cultures profoundly honor the bathing ritual and celebrate this practice as an essential ritual for cleansing the body, as well as the mind. From the Japanese Onsen bathing to the Middle Eastern Hammam rituals, cleansing is at the center of both cultures and traditions. For me, the sense of self-care and relaxation comes from cleansing and bathing. So, this is definitely my first memory but also my strongest cultural influences until today.”
Get to Know – Co-founder Sarah Akkari
What does self-care look like in your life?
I have such a long list! First, for me, self-care starts with a warm and cozy home. My home is like my sanctuary. It needs to feel safe, warm and cozy in it. It is a place I “recharge.” Then, and most importantly, taking a long warm shower or bath helps me re-center and ‘wash away’ the day. It almost feels like a sort of meditation – for me at least! For myself, a good self-care moment is when I have time to recharge and relax both my body and mind and a huge part comes from using sensorial products – it helps me soothe and ground my mind.
I am very sensitive to scents and it has a real effect on how it makes me feel. Anything sensorial is a huge part of my self-care… it could be lighting a candle I love, having a hot beverage in particular, white coffee, a Lebanese hot infusion of Orange Blossom water, honey in hot water, or simply using aromatherapy products in my cleansing ritual, essential oils, soaps, lotions, oils, etc.
So, it can be anything sensorial, from a good soothing scented candle to a bathing product or lotions where the notes and formulation have an impact on my mental /mind. I also like to keep 2-3 pouches of Senteurs d’orient pure essential oil bath salt on my night stand and inhale before I sleep. I love what it makes me feel, so relaxing and soothing. I also spread some of these pouches around my closets for my clothes to smell good. I also love hanging out Hamman Soap on a rope in my bathroom, to diffuse a long-lasting soft aromatherapy scent.
What inspires you most about the beauty landscape and industry today?
The sensorial connection between body care and the mind. The effect of aromatherapy/essential oils on your nervous system and mental health.
What has been the biggest challenge in starting your business?
Visibility/people trying our brand in this digital world, where it is all about sensorial and fragrances.
What has been the biggest win thus far?
May sounds cheesy but honestly our biggest win is every time we receive an order! From a retailer or from a direct online customer. Of course, receiving awards and being mentioned in the press are very flattering, but seeing that people are using and loving our products is the biggest win!
What would you like to see more of in the beauty industry when it comes to diversity and inclusivity?
I would like to see the media and retailers representing more niche and culturally diverse beauty brands.