Wandering around Mohandiseen, you may come across a shop with a name that immediately captures your attention. “Ashakana: The Soul Shop has a wooden exterior, with a cozy, warm interior. Located behind the constantly busy Gamaet El Dowal thoroughfare, it is not somewhere you would expect to find such an establishment.
On entering, you are surrounded by candles inscribed with famous lines of Umm Khultoum songs, essential oils, energy healing stones and meditation CDs and books. In keeping with the theme, your ears are treated to calming music.
“The smell, ambience and lighting combine to create a mood that lifts the soul, says owner Dina Naeem.
“I hope to make people feel better just by being here. Everything is natural and 100 percent handmade. Even without buying, people enjoy the mood. And the mood creates a soul.
Dina is following a psychological formula whereby everything is related to each other. She has a glass supplier who produces shapes to hold the candles she makes herself. She draws up designs for pottery which are then created especially for her. An aroma therapist and herbalist friend who has his own company provides the shop with essential oils.
Is there really demand for these types of products in Egypt though?
“People are not aware of concepts like aromatherapy. That’s why I have written a 10-page booklet explaining what it is and the various recipes you can make. Instead of having to read a 200-page book on the subject, people can take this away with them and flip through it at leisure, explains Dina, herself a qualified aroma therapist.
“Most people read it [the booklet] and come back a week later hoping to make up their own recipes, using a few drops of a number of different essential oils.
Energy healing stones are the most expensive items in the shop. According to Dina, although clients are not familiar with the stones, they are selling well. It just involves educating people about the beneficial properties they have, such as absorbing negativity. The stones are carefully chosen one by one, for treating various ailments such as depression.
“I am appealing to people who care for their health, are interested in alternative medicine and energy healing and who are looking to get away from the pollution and their busy, stressful lives. People seeking relaxation or those who wish to buy inspirational gifts.
Ashakana opened its doors to the public on May 14, when friends and colleagues were invited to celebrate the occasion. Dina knew that the two-storey wooden bungalow she viewed on Al Mahrouky Street in Mohandiseen would be the ideal location for her business. Two years of searching meant that she knew instantly when she stumbled across the perfect spot. Currently, the upstairs is used for tarot and crystal reading, palmistry and making individual essential oil mixes. However, lack of space prevents more than one person being seen at any one time. In terms of Dina’s objectives for the business, she hopes to open a bigger branch in Zamalek in the future. A place where there are private rooms for consultation, psychological help and tarot reading – a “Soul Centre.
To lift your mood and brighten you soul, pop into:Ashakana: The Soul Shop,6A, Al Mahrouky Street,Off Al Batal Ahmed Abdel Aziz Street,Mohandiseen, Giza
Tel (+2 02) 30 22 618/012 236 49 61www.ashakana.com