Friday 15 December, 2017

Businesswoman bounces back from drug addiction with beauty company

29-year-old Stephanie Salloum says when she realised she was addicted to drugs, she turned herself into a rehabilitation centre and didn’t look back.

The young businesswoman, who now has a highly successful business selling hand-made beauty products and skincare items, said she remembered that pivotal moment when she knew she needed help.

Salloum, whose inspiring story was also featured on local Facebook page People of Trinidad and Tobago, said from the age of 16 she became addicted to ecstasy and marijuana and her life began spiralling out of control.

“I kind of just fell into a bad path with the friends that I chose and I started using drugs, a lot of ecstasy, marijuana and cigarettes…I used until I was 25.”

 “I had absolutely no control over my life physically, mentally or emotionally. I found myself in potentially dangerous situations – smoking on a block with people I didn’t know, being stopped a few times in road-blocks, driving to Maracas when I was high, getting into accidents.”

She said at the age of 24, she had had enough.

“I wanted to live life like a normal person and I don’t know what took over me but I packed a suitcase and looked at my mom and I said ‘you need to drop me to rehab (rehabilitation centre) right now’.”

Salloum said she spent 98 days there and went through a difficult withdrawal.

“I had to accept a barbed wire wall, no access to a phone or computer, and only supervised visits from family. People of all ages, races, backgrounds go there. We all had addiction in common and although we didn’t know one another we felt some sort of recognition looking at each other.”

“I cried for two weeks straight. I hardly slept and had nightmares when I did. I couldn’t eat, my skin itched – typical withdrawal symptoms.”

“There were set classes all day, like school: Anger Management, Spirituality, Health and Wellness as well as Therapy. There was a gym so I also started exercising. We went climbing in the mountains . I left 98 days later. My time in there was the best time of my life. I cried when I went in and I cried when I had to come home.”

“I was like a baby learning to crawl all over again, because I had to find myself.”

 

Craft as therapy

It was there that she once again turned to her craft of homemade beauty products, this time with a desire for natural healing remedies.

While going through rehab I learned about natural ways to heal myself, for example how to keep calm using aromatherapy etc.”

“Through my own experience I wanted everyone, especially women, to feel beautiful and confident especially if they suffered from low self-esteem.”

Salloum said she taught herself how to make beauty products, starting with the basics and working her way up.

“One thing lead to another and I began to learn about everything, learning about herbs and their properties, like lavender, making balms, soaps etc, and everything just branched off naturally when I started treating myself,” she said.

“I just didn’t want anyone else to feel unpretty like how I did, I want everyone to feel confident, beautiful, and to love themselves, and that’s when I started making all-natural beauty products,” she said.

She started her business over from scratch and began selling to family and friends, featuring soaps, body scrubs, butters, expanding as she went along.

Five years later, her business Sole to Soul Therapy has become something of a cult favourite and is being compared to popular US beauty company Lush.

Featuring beautifully crafted soaps, skin serums and body oils, Salloum said the ingredients are all-natural and beautifully scented to give each customer a full spa experience.

“I put a lot of passion into what I do, I would spend hours in the kitchen testing and trying new recipes. It’s an avenue for me to express myself so a lot of my soaps are very creative,” she said.

Her products feature such natural ingredients as coconut oil, honey, rosemary, lavender, Dead Sea salt, almond oil, rose hip oil and more.

“Some people say it’s so good they want to eat it,” she laughed.

 

Bright future ahead

Salloum said the response from her business has been amazing and so inspiring and has motivated her to keep building her brand and business.

“It has been so amazing, sometimes I stay up two days in a row trying to mass produce because everyone says how amazing my products are. I put so much love into my products, I make them with passion because I want my customers to feel beautiful,” she said.

Although her business is presently home-based, Salloum said that moving forward she hopes eventually to take her business to a proper brick-and-mortar store.

She also features special Christmas bundles, all of which can be found on her Facebook page Sole to Soul Therapy.

“It’s just been an amazing response," she said.

Salloum said knowing that her story has inspired others is just one of the factors that keep her motivated, and she is fully determined to keep doing more.

Advice on overcoming addiction

As for advice on overcoming her addiction, she said that one’s friends are a critical influential factor.

“If you’re wondering whether you have a problem, you probably do have a problem and you have to find every bone in your body, every cell of your being to be as strong as you can to break away from the disease of addiction.”

I had to break away from people I used to associate with and I lost a lot of people who I thought were my friends, I’m talking about years and years of friendship with these people.”

“It was challenging; I had to discover new healthy ways for myself. I started going to the gym, I started making friends with new people, I started going to Narcotics Anonymous meetings…it was challenging because in the beginning I felt very lonely…it took a while because my mother and family didn’t trust me in the beginning. It took time for them to rebuild that trust,” she said.

She placed a lot of emphasis on brightening up her environment to make sure that her mood remained positive.

“It’s not an easy battle, it’s a fight within yourself and you have to break away from it. Never change your mind, just tell yourself ‘you got this’ and fight,” she said.

Visit Sole to Soul Therapy on Facebook at www.facebook.com/pg/stephaniesoletosoultherapy