We had the good fortune of connecting with Danyah Arafat and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Danyah, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I had always been curious about making soap but never took it seriously. In October 2019 a good friend suggested we go to a local brewery where they were hosting a visiting soap making class. We went and learned how to make a small batch of goat milk soap, and I found the whole process quite intriguing. When the pandemic hit in March 2020 I was furloughed from my job as a senior educational travel consultant. Needing to fill my time I decided to take up soap making. I ordered a soap making kit and made all sorts of bars – lavender, apple, sandalwood, cashmere. I gave these first bars away to family and friends as gifts, and then my friends asked to barter with me – a sourdough loaf for a couple of bars here, a beer growler for a few bars there. Then both family and friends encouraged me to open a shop and sell my soap, so I decided to take a leap and start Blue Sky Soaps.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
My back story has a lot to do with the inspiration behind my craft. My father is from the Middle East and his family once owned a large olive oil soap factory in the West Bank city of Nablus, producing thousands of soap cakes. The factory began operating in the 1850s and has since recently been converted into a cultural and historic center.

I’m a sixth-generation Texan on my mother’s side – her family comes from the Hill Country. I design and name many of my products after the familiar places and Texas hallmarks, as this is my home.

Blending these two unique parts of me together – the family history of soap making and the Texas roots – just makes perfect sense. I’m carrying on an old family tradition with Texan style.

I prefer to use natural ingredients in my soaps because it is better for your skin and body. I use earthy clays for colors, essential oils for fragrance, rich butters and oils for moisture and package everything in recyclables, which is best for the environment.

Soap making is a blend of art and science. I’ve always been good at the art (my BA was in theatre arts from Texas A&M University) and was a professional costume designer for a short while in Fort Worth. Although my customers appreciate the “art” side of soap making – the scents, the colors, the fun names – soap making is really more about the science. It requires precise calculations of ingredients and precision in the process. All soap batches are tested and reviewed every few months for pH levels, durability, fragrance, hardness, lather, color, cleansing ability, etc.

With soap making there is lots of reading and research involved. My office shelves are full of soap making resources. Mostly it is about having patience and a checklist each and every time that I follow when making soap. Because if the soap making science is correct, then the art is more enjoyable to create. And it is trial and error. I am constantly measuring amounts, temperatures, time, etc. to ensure that I am creating a safe, beautiful, functional piece of art every single time.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Top eateries:

Heim Barbecue, Ft. Worth – you can never go wrong with real Texas BBQ.
Cafe Modern, Ft. Worth – fine dining in a modern art museum (while there, be sure to visit the galleries).
Maple & Motor, Dallas – if you want a really good burger, go here.
Los Amigos, Grapevine – best authentic Mexican.
Waters, Ft. Worth – the most wonderful seafood.

Top bars:
Grapevine Springs Winery, Grapevine – most excellent wine collection on Historic Main Street. The almond prosecco is to die for.
Parliament, Dallas – oh my. enough said.
Hop & Sting Brewery, Grapevine – if you’re into craft beer this is the place.

Kimball Art Museum, Ft. Worth – one of the finest art collections in the world.
Nasher Sculpture Center, Dallas – sculpture garden is so worth it.
Stockyards District, Ft. Worth – just because you have to. bring your boots.
Bishop Arts & Deep Ellum neighborhoods, Dallas – they’re always something special going on in both places.
Dallas Botanical Garden & Ft. Worth Japanese Gardens – for a little beauty and some zen downtime.

The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
It is very hard for me to single out just one person or group that has helped me along the way. I am very grateful for ALL my customers that have purchased my products and keep coming back for more. I am thankful for the relationships I have with the retailers in the DFW area that carry Blue Sky Soaps products in their stores. These include:

– Scout and Molly’s, Southlake
– Napoli’s Italian Market, Grapevine
– The Polka Dot Giraffe, Keller
– Fusion Whole Body Recovery, Colleyville
– Roanoke Trading Company, Roanoke

I appreciate the support and encouragement from my friends. My fellow women business owners keep giving me a plethora of sound advice. Fellow artists and creators have become dear friends and collaborators. My family gives nothing more than unconditional love. My two adult sons keep me laughing when things get difficult. Finally, my partner in life – he always hands me a glass of red wine in the evening after a long work day.

Website: www.blueskysoaps.shop

Instagram: blueskysoaps

Facebook: blueskysoapsllc

Other: www.etsy.com/shop/blueskysoapsllc

Image Credits
Chris Roth

Nominate Someone: ShoutoutDFW is built on recommendations and shoutouts from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition please let us know here.