Sana Jardin is the socially conscious fragrance house created by Amy Christiansen Si-Ahmed. Caroline Neville MBE, president of CEW, speaks to the entrepreneur about how she built her brand
Can you briefly tell us about your career background and what led you to start your fragrance collection, Sana Jardin?
I have always been motivated to help people in need since I was a little girl, which is why I trained as a social worker. After I qualified, I went to Chicago to work with struggling families and individuals, and I soon realised I could have a greater impact if I helped these groups on an institutional level by enabling them to access jobs, education and financial opportunity. Sana Jardin was born out of a realisation that low-income communities can benefit through business rather than philanthropy. The brand was created with the belief that a bottle of perfume can transform lives and change the way business is done.
How has your experience working for non-profit organisations informed the work you do at Sana Jardin?
The common thread among the foundations I was involved with [The Robin Hood Foundation, The Cherie Blair Foundation for Women and The Clinton Foundation] was that they were all considered innovative and cutting-edge in their approach to social justice. I wanted to take social impact a step further, and I believe the next interaction of social change is through commerce and entrepreneurship and not just charity.
Can you tell us about the Sana Jardin Beyond Sustainability initiative?
I started using the term ‘Beyond Sustainability’ in 2017 with the goal of furthering the sustainability movement. I wanted to start a movement that creates tangible and measurable social change through commerce, not charity. Since launching the Beyond Sustainability Movement, Sana Jardin has made a significant social impact.
Could you tell us how this came about?
Over the last 20 years, I have spent a lot of time in Morocco and it’s a country close to my heart. I always knew I wanted to do something to help Moroccan women, particularly those who work for the floral-ingredient suppliers. I realised I could work with these communities by giving them more economic power. My dear Moroccan friend happened to know the director at the international supplier Les Arômes du Maroc, and after meeting him we were able to convince him about working together with the harvesters. I then contacted Nest to develop the social-impact work and together we formed a cooperative for the female workers.
What is the most rewarding part of this initiative for you? It’s enabling the women who lead these cooperatives in Morocco to flourish by helping them create their own micro-businesses and be their own entrepreneurs. Building on the co-op that we created for the women who harvest the orange blossom for the Sana Jardin fragrances, we saw an opportunity to upcycle the waste created through this production by turning it into a line of products that the women can sell nationally and retain 100 per cent of the proceeds.
How do you want your customers to feel when they wear a Sana Jardin fragrance?
From a practical perspective, I want them to feel confident and pleased they are voting with their wallets to create social change. From a more romantic perspective, I want them to remember they are divinely feminine.
What changes have you seen within the beauty industry since you first started working in this sector?
Many companies are now working to make positive strides in this space. For all of us, it’s a work in progress, and we all have our own corporate goals to achieve. I think companies are starting to make proactive and creative changes in their packaging, which is another opportunity to utilise waste to empower people and leave less of a negative environmental impact.
What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
Sana Jardin recognises the importance of the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals 2015-2030 and is proud to support three of these goals: empowering women, promoting sustainable economic growth, and ensuring sustainable production practices.