Shop Local: All That Yazz
Yasmine Bandali-Alvarado's artisanal soaps have an eco-mission.
For Rosslyn resident Yasmine Bandali-Alvarado, soapmaking comes with considerations that extend beyond merely helping folks wash off. The bars she makes for her company, All That Yazz, carry an important eco-mission, as well.
“Most of the artisan and regular soaps in the grocery store, the majority of them are made using palm oil—palmate or palm something,” says the Kenya-born entrepreneur, who has been in the U.S. for more than 21 years.
Many environmentalists view the palm industry as problematic, alleging that fires used to clear the land to plant palm trees harm endangered species and contribute to greenhouse gases. “It wasn’t just, ‘I’m a crafter, and it would be great to make a living,’ ” she says. “The advocacy and the conversations around it—that’s more important to me than the income that I generate.”
Bandali-Alvarado first learned to make soap from her father, but notes that back then, soap also involved ingredients like tallow, which is made from animal fat. Her line is mainly vegan, except for products that incorporate honey or goat or camel milk. (Yes, you read that right.)
Her colorful soaps come in such scents as Lyrical Lavender and Honeysuckle Haven, and they range in price from $7–$9. The honeysuckle is Bandali-Alvarado’s personal favorite, but she says the Babylon bar—free of fragrance and color—sells exceptionally well.
“That one flies off the table. People who have skin sensitivity, sometimes they avoid even things like lavender.”
Her line also includes sugar scrubs and soy-based candles melted directly into vintage teacups.
She had intended to introduce lotions in 2020, but Covid-19 forced her to put that plan on the back burner. The pandemic has also caused the cancellation of many festivals and farmers markets that she previously relied upon for sales, moral support from fellow vendors and building rapport with customers.
“It’s not just about selling, it’s that interaction you have with people,” she says. “They’re part of your life, and you’re part of their life. Those interactions I miss a lot.”