Syrian refugee opens artisan soap shop in Calgary

Abdul Fatah Sabouni's last name means soap maker. It's what his family has been doing for generations.

Fourth-generation soap maker opens Aleppo Savon in city's southeast

Abdul Fatah Sabouni addresses the crowd at the grand opening of his soap store, Aleppo Savon, in Calgary on Jan. 13, 2018. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Abdul Fatah Sabouni's last name means soap maker. It's what his family has been doing for generations.

So, when he and his family came to Canada as refugees from Syria two years ago, he knew he wanted to keep doing what he does best.

"I can work 20 hours a day. I don't get tired about that, because I love my job," Sabouni told CBC News Saturday at the grand opening of his new soap store, Aleppo Savon.

The southeast Calgary store, which Sabouni opened along with business partners Husny Hadry and Walid Balsha, was swarmed with customers, excited to get their hands on the artisanal products, which are made with olive and coconut oil.

 Sabouni said the huge crowd made him a little less nervous about starting a business.

"When I begin, yes, but not now. When I see the Canadian people come, I'm not afraid about anything," he said.

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci, second from right, cuts the ribbon at the grand opening of Aleppo Savon in Calgary. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Before Sabouni fled Syria, his soap factory was destroyed. His family spent time in Jordan before coming to Canada, where he tried to start the business again, but it wasn't a success.

Now, he's grateful he, his wife, and four children — his youngest son was born in Canada last year — have a chance for a fresh start.

"The Canadians come to support us, make me so happy … I want to say thank you Canada because I am grateful because it gives me and my family a new chance," he said.

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci at the grand opening of Aleppo Savon in Calgary on Jan. 13, 2018. (Terri Trembath/CBC)

Alberta Finance Minister Joe Ceci said he was excited to see such a well-attended grand opening.

"It just shows again that Calgary is an incredible place to make a life, to make a business, and to get the kind of support there is today," he said. 

Sabouni has plans to eventually expand the business by selling his products wholesale and eventually exporting to other countries. Aleppo Savon is located at 1303 Hastings Cres. S.E.

Watch the video below to learn more about Sabouni's store:

Syrian soap maker to open Calgary store 0:32

With files from Terri Trembath