Founder Highlight: Sōmi
Sōmi was born out of the desire to live a greener, healthier and more thoughtful lifestyle. Started by a mother-daughter duo, their focus is on making 100% vegan shampoo, conditioner and body bars that are good for you and the planet. With high-quality, plant-based ingredients and oils, these won’t compromise your health or the beauty of your skin and hair!
While studying to complete a Business Management degree at Ryerson University, Maria Portillo took a semester abroad to study in Singapore. This experience allowed her the time to travel through and explore Asia. Maria was exposed first-hand to the single-use plastic epidemic plaguing beaches, mountains, and other areas visited. She became particularly dialed into the products targeted to our daily lives, especially those marketed for travel. These small formats designed for convenience created short-term gain for long-term environmental pain. Before the pandemic, Maria often travelled. Along with creating something better for the environment, she was intrigued to craft a liquid-free product that was better for our bodies.
Upon returning to Toronto, she was inspired to share a new goal for a minimal-waste lifestyle with her family. Her mother took a course on soap-making so that the pair could learn how to make natural and sustainable products for themselves to support their newfound mission. Together, they tested many shampoo and conditioner recipes until they fell in love with the recipes they currently use today. Everything came together naturally, including their shift to share their bars with others through the inception of their brand, Sōmi, in August 2020.
At Sōmi, the brand focuses on the creation of zero-waste products with plastic-free packaging. In addition to this, they provide bars with high-quality, plant-based ingredients to make others feel like their best selves. With sustainability at the forefront of everything they do, they are driven to empower people to reduce their ecological footprint without compromising their health and beauty.
So what are Sōmi’s bars made from? Each one comprises nourishing oils, butters and naturally sourced scents for a luxurious and relaxing experience. 100% vegan, they leave out all the bad stuff, including sulfates, parabens, phthalates, and preservatives. What’s more? Each shampoo bar is PH balanced for salon-quality hair.
For Maria, starting a business has not always been easy. Her greatest advice to other entrepreneurs is not to let the fear of failure stop you from achieving your goals. As she states, “If you are passionate about your brand, values, and mission, then keep going at it and don't feel discouraged. It is important to be patient with yourself and stay confident in your goals and your vision!”
“My family, friends, and the artisan community have helped me immensely along my journey as an entrepreneur.”
The most significant challenge to date has been juggling full-time studies in addition to running a business. Maria has spent many sleepless nights planning and preparing for local markets while also completing assignments and exams. She has been grateful for these experiences as they have taught her exponential lessons in optimizing her time and making decisions on how to operate most efficiently. Through this process, she’s also learned how to slow down and take time for herself.
Another critical element in Maria’s journey to date is a strong support system. “My family, friends, and the artisan community have helped me immensely along my journey as an entrepreneur.” Maria has been able to leverage the experience and expertise of others to support her in her endeavours. “Don't be afraid to ask for help. It can be hard to make decisions all by yourself, especially when you don't know [the answer]”. Continuing to learn, grow and improve every day with the help of those close to her has been key.
The Sōmi brand exists to satisfy a desire for change. Their range of products is the perfect solution for those looking to live a sustainable lifestyle, seeking natural body care, greener living, and convenience. With every purchase, Maria wants her customers to know that they truly are making a difference.
To learn more about Sōmi and their fantastic range of products, click here!