When Israeli supermodel Bar Rafaeli comes to Israel for a visit, she makes sure to stock up on Gamila’s soaps for her glamorous friends around the world. She and other celebrities like Justin Timberlake, Rihanna and Angelina Jolie swear by the stuff, according to Fuad Hiar, the eldest son of Israel’s most lucrative soap maker the 70-year-old Gamila Hiar.
Gamila is adept at the role of traditional soap maker. She’s traditionally dressed, and as one would expect from an iconic grandmother figure, she has inherited her family’s ancient “soap wisdom” from prior generations, using recipes from her grandfathers, and herbs from their gardens around the Galilee village of Peki’in.
For more than 40 years now, Gamila has been making and selling soap – concocted into small bars worth their weight in gold – at about $35 each. Called Gamila’s Secret, about 100,000 of them are shipped every month to 23 countries around the world.
The secrets aren’t in the choice of oils Gamila publicizes widely: Olive, almond, avocado and lavender. They are in the 15 secret herbs and plant extracts native to the Galilee that give the soap its special restorative properties.