The Story of ‘Origen Handinart,’ Two Venezuelan Immigrants Turned Small-Business Owners

Origen Handinart BeLatina Latinx
Courtesy of Origen Handinart.

The Venezuelan socio-political crisis has forced many to find a new home. For sisters Yamily and Susana El Fakih, “two divorces and a revolution led [them] to find [their] way back to each other in Chillán, Chile.” This is the story of a preschool teacher and a psychiatrist who have become experts in herbs and aromas, natural and handmade products advocates, and small-business owners.

After taking numerous soap-making courses, building the space for a lab at home, and growing a garden, Yamily and Susana decided to open Origen Handinart. Here, they have explored familiar smells and techniques that take them back to their childhood and, as a result, created a line of all-natural, homemade soaps based in Chile. Jabones de Alepo, Jabones de Castilla, and Jabones de Mi Tierra are three of their categories.

Origen Handinart prides itself in being a small business approved by ISP (Instituto de Salud Pública) Chile. Both founders underwent a long, complicated process to register their business and have all paperwork up-to-date. In the midst of this situation, they were also able to get international permits, and their products have now reached Colombia, Spain, Argentina, and the United States. To make purchases easier for foreign customers, they are looking into developing partnerships with stores in Miami, Florida, and global shipping companies.

“Cuando tienes un sueño, todo el universo conspira para que lo hagas realidad,” said Dr. Yamily El Fakih. This translates to “when you have a dream, the whole universe conspires to make it come true.” Aside from doing what they’re passionate about, the two sisters dreamt of starting something that could fund their retirement in the future. Being immigrants from a country with a dysfunctional retirement program and no resources, Origen Handinart is their only hope for long-term financial stability.

“Beyond the satisfaction of a customer with a product, seeing [customers] satisfied with their own skin after using the product” is one of the most gratifying experiences for Yamily and Susana. Origen Handinart provides the solution to acne, dry skin, psoriasis, and more. These therapeutic soaps contain specific herbs that will bring additional benefits to one’s body. It is a way to care for people’s mental and physical health.

Their advice to those who are interested in starting their own business is to search for their own ‘why’ (this product), ‘who’ (will buy it), ‘how’ (will be sold), and ‘where’ (will be sold). Once these questions are answered thoroughly, the next step is making a schedule and organizing oneself. “If you don’t [create a timeline], passion takes you away,” confessed Yamily. 

There is no doubt that passion and discipline are what have gotten Susana and Yamily this far. They are currently taking virtual courses from a university in Spain to earn their Masters in Herbal Medicine and Aromatherapy. People’s health is a priority for Origen Handinart, so Susana and Yamily continue to educate themselves on creating more and better soap options.

As of now, a customer favorite is the soap named after Nucita, the tube of candy that combines vanilla and chocolate. However, customers can look through their options by following their Instagram @origenhandinart or visiting their website Supporting a small business while getting a quality product has never been easier.