When life throws a spanner in the works: Charlene Mercieca

Charlene Mercieca of Soap Cafe Malta shares her experience dealing with a terrifying health diagnosis when you have to keep your business running.

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Charlene Mercieca, Founder, Soap Café Malta


"The glass being half-full is real, and the glass being half-empty is also real: what matters is your perspective."

My guest on this podcast is Charlene Mercieca, who created and runs the Soap Café shop and beauty salon in Sliema, Malta. 

Charlene started her business because she was passionate about organic cosmetics that would help her own skin conditions. She trained as a herbalist and found that all-natural soaps were a great way of incorporating fresh organic herbs into her care routine, because soap preserves herbs longer.

One thing led to another, and Soap Café now sells lotions, sunblock, make-up and loose-leaf tea, all organic, all handmade in Charlene's shop. Her commitment to "cosmetics with a conscience" is awe-inspiring.


When your drivers are passion and a thirst for knowledge


Charlene is very driven. She originally trained as a herbalist, but she also learned psychology, business, design - you name it. This wide-ranging curiosity encompasses all aspects of her business and her life

All this knowledge came in extremely handy when Charlene had to face a major illness. The same passion and thorough approach that she applied in her business, to offer organic cosmetics without compromise, she then turned to her own health

Listen to Charlene as she explains in detail what her tagline, "cosmetics with a conscience", means to her. In her case, idealism and business go hand in hand: her business is her way of solving her own problem and creating the change she wants to see in the world.


And then Fate dealt her a huge blow


Charlene was diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. A cancer diagnosis is bad enough, and will shake anybody to the core. But when you are also a business owner, your livelihood itself is threatened: if you can't work because of the illness, how will you make money?

Listen to Charlene as she talks about the steps she had taken before her diagnosis, so that she wouldn't "be the business" on her own, and what setbacks she had to face. She also talks about taking matters into her own hands and continuing to educate herself about her diet.


"I had to ask: Is this worth my health? And take a step back."


Today Charlene is cancer-free and she stresses that she even feels thankful for the diagnosis: by going through that harrowing experience, she learned so much. This hard-earned knowledge would have been difficult to get any other way.

Listen to Charlene as she underlines the importance of letting go of outcomes, and how she dealt with that time when an order she had placed was lost - she lost around €3000 of raw materials that would have allowed her to create products right in time for Christmas, traditionally an extremely busy time in her business.


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Additional resources


Charlene's shop is Soap Café (online shop)

You can follow Charlene on Facebook (Soap Cafe Malta) and Twitter (@SoapCafeMalta).

Here are the other podcasts and articles I mentioned:

How to have more energy at work: Building professional resilience.

The real reason you are stagnating: fear of success.

The Savvy Women Podcast with Julia Lynes.

Savvy Women Podcast Charlene Mercieca (72.6 MB)Savvy Women Podcast Charlene Mercieca (72.6 MB)



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