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Boss Ladies of CLE: Ahlam Abbas

How the founder of an Akron-based beauty brand is thinking big during the pandemic

CLEVELAND — "A boss lady is somebody who boldly chooses her own direction. She gets stuff done, she often strays from the conventional path and blazes her own trail. She often works towards a higher purpose outside of her own personal success." - Maggie Sullivan, author of "Boss Ladies of CLE" 

Ahlam Abbas has taken her squeaky clean, all-natural, vegan skincare line – called Dirty Lamb – worldwide in just three years. But it all started in her kitchen. 

"Growing up, I would see my grandma in the kitchen every day cooking homemade bread and she would always tell me stories about back in the day. They would use actually coffee to pack scars back home in Palestine and it would actually help the scarring process," Abbas said.

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So, Abbas took inspiration from those recipes and created her first product, to address her own skincare needs. 

"I started off with my coffee scrub. The base of that was very simple - coffee, mint leaves, coconut oil, and it became this multi-use product for me that I used on my face and my body that actually helped clear up my skin," she explained.

"They started working on me and i figured hopefully it could work for someone else."

While working as a NICU nurse, Ahlam launched Dirty Lamb at the Indie Beauty skincare show in New York City in 2017. 

TJ Maxx and Marshalls snapped it right up.

"I quit my job like a month after and haven't looked back since," she said with a smile.

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Now, Abbas is a "Boss Lady" founder of her own successful brand, and featured in Maggie Sullivan's "Boss Ladies of CLE" book.

"To me, to me the best part [of being a boss lady] is freedom...to really put in 100 of you into something that you love every day being 100 authentic and creative into something that you you started," Abbas said.

And while it may not be known for beauty brands, Ahlam says she loves working in her Rubber City hometown where rent is much cheaper than big cities like New York or Los Angeles.

"[Being in] Akron, being in kind of the underdog city really helps push you to go up and to make a name for yourself and that's what it did for me," she said.

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Now, Ahlam has her sights set on even bigger goals.

"I would say I could see my brand in Sephora in five years and I'd be happy."

And though the pandemic hasn't been good for most small businesses - right now, Dirty Lamb is expanding. They're upgrading its packaging and launching a luxe line, with new items like an oil cleanser and body serum.

Ahlam says for women, it's a time to put self-care front and center.

"I think of my shower as a meditation as well...it's just like you're washing off all the negativity. anything any kind of stressor from that day and it's important to put yourself first because when you do that you're then able to take care of everyone else around you."

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