By Eman Abu Qaou’d
Samira Kilani, a housekeeping specialist, could not have foreseen how a terrible incident – inhaling Flash and Chlorine while cleaning and almost suffocating – would become a life-changing moment. Yet, it did. It began with replacing all chemicals with natural products, and using media outlets to advise women about the dangers of mixing cleaning chemical products.
Kilani’s motto is: “A day that passes without learning something new is a wasted day”. She started making soap and wrote a book, the first of its kind in Arabic, about housekeeping, called “I Have an Idea”. Later she created a brand for hair and body-care products, “Shea Secret”.
Going back to nature
Speaking to Al Nahda Women Network, Kilani says: “I immediately stopped using Flash and Chlorine after I almost suffocated due to inhaling the mixture. I was thinking of alternative natural cleaning products. I know many women feel the same about this problem and I took it upon myself to send a message saying let’s go back to natural products and find a way!”
Strolling down memory lane, Samira recalls three main lessons she learned. The first is from her well-organized mother’s many beauty and housekeeping recipes, and her mastering of sewing, crochet and cooking. The second is from her father, a poet, who ensured dialogue and exchange of ideas among the family. And lastly, from her participation in and lack of success at many gameshows, where a Bahraini participant once told her: “You possess a huge stock of knowledge, why don’t you write it in a book?”, which reminded her of a genre missing from the Arabic literature, so she wrote “I have an Idea” in 2012.
Tested recipes in a book
The Book includes around 2000 eco-friendly and all-natural recipes for household and garden cleaning, cooking and beauty. She tested every single recipe before introducing it to her readers, and the fifth edition of her book sold out. Samira’s book is affordable, matching her message of economical housekeeping.
Many media outlets covered her book signing at the National Library. Among them, Roya TV, which offered her a slot presenting a housekeeping segment that has been airing every Sunday morning for the last 10 years. Al-Jazeera later approached Kilani for a pre-recorded segment to be aired every Monday within the “This Morning” program; it has been running for the past three years. Additionally, Kilani has been sharing her recipes on her YouTube channel for six years; she has over 100,000 followers and is one of few people to receive the YouTube Silver Play Button (a series of awards from YouTube that aim to recognize its most popular channels, the silver award goes for the channels that have 100 thousand subscriptions).
Shea secrets and beauty products
Kilani grew up watching her aunts miraculously transform olive oil into soap. She began reading about the process and researching it until she learned the art of making soap with various scents, soap that she gave to her friends and family. She followed this passion throughout the years to learn more about beauty products, and joined many training courses, locally and internationally when travelling with her husband.
She says: “I travelled to Sudan with my husband for his work. That was when I was introduced to shea butter. I read a lot about it and reached out to specialists to learn even more. I found myself in a beautiful relationship with shea butter, and learned about all its secrets. I learned how to handle it under different temperatures and utilize it for its effect on skin, hair and body beauty.” Later, Samira started producing beauty products tested by herself, friends and family, and introduced them to local and international markets under the name of “Shea Secrets”.
Kilani takes pride in her use of a pot and a heat-proof dish at the beginning of her journey, and she still has them as part of her valuable possessions. A while later, she established a small factory at home, then moved to producing at a pharmaceutical factory under the supervision of specialized doctors and with certification from the Jordan Food and Drug Administration.
She feels content when her message gets delivered and whenever she receives a phone call or news from a woman telling her how her life changed after using her products.
Kilani launched her project when her four children were old enough to take care of themselves, so she would have time to develop skills and accumulate knowledge, and with the support of her husband, she became a reference in housekeeping.
“To excel, you must do something different”, she believes. She also believes that one can keep learning and developing, especially nowadays when information is so readily accessible on the internet.
Al Nahda Women Network functions under the umbrella of the Arab Renaissance for Democracy and Development (ARDD) and strives to highlight women’s success stories in different areas and shed light on the challenges they face through a series of articles published on social media.
This story is part of a series of blogs under ‘For Us-by-Us Project’ implemented in cooperation with the Heinrich Böll Stiftung – Palestine and Jordan Office
Disclaimer: “This document has been produced with the support of the Heinrich-Böll Stiftung. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and therefore not necessarily reflect the opinion of the Heinrich-Böll-Stiftung.”