Clean n' Green: Q&A With Artisanal Soap Maker Joulian Tavalloli

Did you know that your skin is your largest organ and that it's covered by trillions (yes, trillions) of pores? Your skin is your first line of defence against pathogens and it helps regulates body temperature.  It is also home to loads of nerve endings and receptors that allow you to feel objects, sense pain and pressure and differentiate hot from cold. It also produces vitamin D when exposed to sun.  Skin is pretty amazing and it plays a huge role in your overall health. 

Several years ago, as I became more conscious of my diet and started making healthier food choices, I also started to pay more attention to what I was putting on my skin. My diet was becoming very healthy, wholesome and natural,  and I made adjustments to ensure that the products I used were too. Overtime, and with some research, the list of products I was willing to use became smaller and smaller.  I started paying more attention to quality and looking for products that were non-toxic and cruelty free. 

I can't tell you how excited I was when I discovered SAABOON, a line of high quality, all-natural soaps made right here in Ottawa. Since its inception, SAABOON has expanded, and is growing in to a full on skincare company, and is now offering a skin oil (ELEMENTAL) and a really, really great lip balm (NUDE). 

The owner, Joulian Tavalloli, is a true artisan. He is also kind and conscientious, and has made every effort to produce quality products that are non-toxic, cruelty free, and vegan (meaning they do not contain any animal products or by-products).  While his handcrafted soaps are beautiful and naturally aromatic, they are also cleansing and gentle on skin. And, as I said before, the NUDE lip balm is the best! 

In the interview below, Joulian tells us how he started his company, how his products stack up against big brand name soaps, a bit about his company values, and much more...

Amy: I love your products. I'm a huge fan of everything I've tried. How did you get in to making skin care products and soaps?
Joulian: Thanks Amy.  I’m very happy to hear that you’ve enjoyed using my products. Outside of my skincare business, I run a separate business, a creative visual-communications company. A few years back, I had the intention of starting a series of short films, documenting individuals working with their hands for a living. The current job landscape is very technology-driven and it seems the appeal of working with the hands has been lost. My idea was simple. To showcase local individuals that work with their hands and hopefully inspire some to perhaps re-examine the different possibilities outside of working with computers/technology. I’ve always been interested in making things, breaking things and experimenting. Although, unfortunately, the film series never came to fruition because of other commitments, I did experiment with soap-making. It was one of many subjects I wanted to film and showcase. I gave it a try and enjoyed the process so much that it eventually became an addiction. The process fascinated me and here we are.

Amy: What differentiates your skincare line from the big names like Dove, Ivory, or Irish Springs? 
Joulian: The short answer is, with SAABOON, every ingredient used is all-natural and plant-based (vegan). You won’t find any synthetic chemicals, artificial fragrances or colours, animal products or by-products or any preservatives. Every single ingredient used is formulated by me for its beneficial properties without compromise. To be more accurate, SAABOON is not competing with the companies mentioned. We’re not on the same playing field.

Amy: I noticed that you are very particular about your ingredients, where they are sourced, their impact on the environment, etc.  How do you go about choosing your ingredients? What are your standards in terms of sourcing? 
Joulian: It’s extremely important to me to work with suppliers that have the same core values and ethical principles as I do. Upon research I have been able to find the right suppliers that meet my needs. Having said that, I have definitely also learned a few things along the way and have made conscious decisions of change. For example, after learning about the environmental issues caused by the surge in demand for palm oil, I decided to eliminate the use of it altogether. Its demand and use globally has been linked to major environmental issues ranging from deforestation and animal cruelty to destruction of indigenous communities and wildlife. As of now every single product is made by me, by hand. I truly love what I do and I want to make a positive impact within my community.

Amy: If somebody were looking to try out SAABOON products, where can they be purchased? 
Joulian: At the moment they can be purchased primarily in Ottawa. You can find SAABOON at:
Herb & Spice (Wellness) Shop
Market Organics
Rainbow Foods
PharmaSave (Westboro)
Whole Foods Market (Lansdowne Park)
Modah (Mississauga)
And of course online at -- but do check in regularly as we are expanding.

Amy: What's next for SAABOON ?
Joulian: There are definitely big plans in the works for SAABOON. You’ll have to wait and see. 

Amy: Finally... I absolutely love your personal Instagram account. There are so many pug and veggie food photos.  At one point, you were taking photos of your smoothies and juices every day. The photos are gorgeous. What was your favourite smoothie or juice?
Joulian: Thanks! Hmm…that’s a good question. I have to say, the simple juices were often the tastiest. I always enjoyed juices and smoothies with arugula in them. There is just something delicious and satisfying about this green leaf.

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