DEARBORN — Resident Maysoon Hamad has launched a new cosmetic company called “Alwan”, certified as halal, vegan and kosher. It’s the only company in the world that is branding its cosmetics as all three.
Hamad said she’s aiming to bring clean, vibrant and unique products to consumers as an alternative to what is being sold at retail stores and pharmacies. Alwan cosmetics are also paraben-free, hypo-allergenic, allergy tested, non-comedogenic and cruelty and chemical free.
Hamad told The Arab American News that her company had been in the works for close to two years. This week, Alwan officially launched its website, where customers can order beauty supplies and receive temporary free shipping.
“Alwan caters to all ages and all cultures,” Hamad said. “It doesn’t discriminate against race, culture or sex. We want to introduce halal cosmetics in the community and hopefully also change the cosmetics industry by taking it globally.”
So far the company has introduced 15 shades of lipsticks, ranging from matte, gloss and high gloss. Alwan will expand its product line later this year to include skin care products, nail polish and other types of beauty accessories.
According to Hamad, the products will be affordably priced. After doing a market analysis, Alwan’s products came back on the higher end of the scale, but she felt it was still important to keep the products affordable for college students.
A large number of women might not feel comfortable purchasing cosmetic products sold at giant retail stores and pharmacies because some of the ingredients might conflict with their faith, lifestyle or overall health. Hamad created Alwan with the idea to cater cosmetic products to multi-cultural communities.
With the majority of cosmetic products aimed at mainstream American women, Hamad believed there was a large market for women those companies were ignoring. She noted that Alwan will use a variety of models to represent the company, including Arabic, Pakistani and Hispanic women.
“Things are always geared towards having a specific stereotypical image in beauty,” she said. “I want people to see these products and be able to relate to them. It was especially important to me that we went beyond a basic American look.”
A mother of five, Hamad said it was her own children who inspired her to create a cosmetics company. One of her daughters wanted to pursue a career in cosmetology and Hamad was looking to build a foundation for her in the field.
She found herself researching and reading the labels on beauty products, often questioning what was included among the ingredients. She made products out of her home in the beginning stages of the company.
She also said she’s concerned about animal cruelty; and in reading labels, saw that many contain gelatin and other “suspicious products” she didn’t feel comfortable using.
“I also have daughters who have sensitive skin, so I wanted to make sure everything was cruelty and chemical free,” she said.
Hamad soon partnered with a manufacturer to help expand her company. In the development phases, she felt it was vital to get the products approved for Muslims, Jews and vegans.
Doing so was a lengthy process. Hamad said obtaining a halal certification from the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) was strenuous and costly in particular, but it was an important step to affirm the company’s legitimacy.
ISNA had to approve the ingredients as well as look into the preparation, packaging and manufacturing of the products in order to ensure that it met with its policies and procedures.
Hamad noted that the community has many misconceptions as to what defines “halal” products and whether cosmetics could be classified as such. She said she’s received some backlash from community members who believe cosmetics are haram. She’s hoping the certification from ISNA will prove all the more that halal cosmetics can exist.
“They think halal only comes down to not having swine, but that’s a misconception,” Hamad said. “It’s more intense than what people believe. I’ve gotten a lot of backlash, but after talking to scholars I know that cosmetics are not haram; it’s all about how you wear it and perceive it.”
Now that Alwan is up and running, Hamad’s next step will be to focus on building a customer base and expanding the company. She’s hoping to stay on top of trends and open lines of communications with customers for feedback.
The online component will also be an important avenue for the company. Hamad teamed up with Shehab Alharazli— a business investor from Illusion Signs & Graphics— who she called Alwan’s “backbone” for assisting with the development of the company’s logo, web design and printing.
Alwan products will be displayed at local events in the Detroit metro region and Toledo in coming months. Hamad also plans to take her products to fashion shows and vegan festivals. She’s also slated to showcase her products at this year’s ISNA convention.
Hamad hopes to build a strong home base with the company in metro Detroit, while also targeting customers in other areas of the U.S., as well as Canada, Europe and the Middle East. Alwan has already been in contact with distribution companies to take its products overseas.
While Hamad hopes Alwan will attract customers beyond the Arab and Muslim community, she felt it was still necessary to have an Arabic name. The Arabic word “Alwan” translates to “colors” in English.
“Having an Arabic name was very important to me, being of Palestinian descent,” Hamad said. “I felt like Alwan represented color. There’s so much discrimination in the world and I want to showcase how all colors are beautiful. I want this company to represent the colors of life.”
Hamad is looking to share her success story with other local women in the community who are trying to think outside of the box and pursue unique careers.
“Our motive is to aspire to inspire,” she said. “I want to inspire other women to come out of their shells and be passionate about what they choose to do. A year and a half ago all of this was just a thought and a dream, but now it’s a reality. I’ve invested so much to prove that dreams can come true if you are passionate about something.”
Visit Alwan Cosmetics at www.alwanco.net.