By Claire Davenport
Chemistry class might bring bubbling test tubes and colorful explosions to mind. But for Madonna Nassif ’15 and Ola Al-Sakka ’01, ’14, co-founders of the brand Bubblzz, it was the boiling point for their business venture.
Nassif and Al-Sakka aren’t just co-founders. They are also best friends and alumnae of AUC, where they started Bubblzz, a bath and body care company that uses all-natural ingredients and sells a range of body, hair and facial care products.
It all began in 2014 at the AUC Chemistry Club.
Nassif was president of the club, and Al-Sakka, who had recently joined the chemistry department as a visiting assistant professor, was serving as the club’s faculty adviser. From the start, they shared a love for science, beauty and sustainability. Bubblzz was created as a club venture aimed at kindling a passion for chemistry among AUCians.
“We planned and conducted Do-It- Yourself workshops for soaps, candles and lip balms using 100% natural ingredients and oils to show students how chemistry is a fundamental part of our daily lives,” explained Al-Sakka. “Every personal care product you use on your hair or skin has a chemical principle involved in developing or manufacturing it.”
Their initial workshops were popular and fruitful, with the first Bubblzz product, Cupcake Soap, coming to life back then. “It was very important to deliver the message to students that chemistry is simple and fun yet fascinating,” added Nassif.
From Lab to Life
Nassif and Al Sakka realized they were on to something, and that year, they started developing, shaping and testing more products.
“The workshops we conducted in 2014 sparked an immense passion in both of us to join this huge industry that had so much potential for growth. Our moments of sheer happiness and pride came after we had spent months researching, formulating and finally launching a new product,” Nassif said.
The duo wanted to not only offer a colorful and dynamic product people would buy but one that was eco-friendly and made with natural manufacturing methods. “For the past two decades, organic cosmetic products have always been marketed as bland and dull, so our mission was to create products that could bring these two worlds together,” Al Sakka said.
Using biodegradable formulas, Bubblzz beauty and personal care products are made from scratch and include organic ingredients such as essential oils and active extracts that are free from any harsh chemicals or animal testing.
“Consumers are now becoming more aware of the importance of seeking brands and products that promote respectful practices that protect the future of our planet,” they said, explaining why their eco-friendly vision resonates so much with customers.
A Bright (and Bubbly) Future
Bubblzz has since expanded from the AUC chemistry department to include more than 130 hair, body and facial care products. The company has six branches in Cairo and Alexandria and has exported to countries including Iraq, Yemen, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
And their commitment to sustainability continues. They have refill options at all of their stores to reduce the use of plastic packaging, and all Bubblzz bags are also made from 100% recycled paper.
The founders credit AUC with giving them the space and abilities they needed to get Bubblzz off the ground. “The academic background and skills we acquired at AUC in chemistry — organic, inorganic, analytical and biochemistry — provided us with knowledge and practical skills to create a sustainable brand where it isn’t only about how useful a product is but how much people enjoy it,” they shared.
Looking forward, Nassif and Al- Sakka are hoping to expand to different locations in and outside of Egypt.
Their advice to current students? “Do what you have a passion for — what you’re really enjoying!” Nassif says.
“You are going to devote a lot of time and energy to starting a successful business, so it’s really important to truly have fun with what you do,” Al-Sakka added. “And last but not least, always remember that it’s never too late!”