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— since 1999 —

This is the story of a brand created in 1999 that had an unusual start. The three founding partners of Castelbel have created it as so many other businesses in the past were created, with a handshake. Jon Bresler, an American businessman, was looking for a soap supplier for his cosmetics company, Lafco. His enthusiasm for having a quality Portuguese product was such that he convinced Aquiles Barros, a professor at the Faculty of Sciences of Porto, to create a brand that could meet the growing demand in New York. The trio was completed with Jerónimo Campos, who saw that the brand had what it took to make it and provided the capital needed to make the dream come true.

Today it’s Achilles who tells us the path of this commercial adventure, from the first timid steps to the famous brand that it became. At the turn of the millennium, there were six people who began working in poor facilities, located in Castêlo de Maia, under very difficult conditions. Later in 2006, at a time when the number of workers was already well over two dozen, Castelbel moved to new facilities, a little more dignified. Finally, following the good performance of recent years, where the number of workers has soared to more than 200, new, larger facilities are being built, which are expected to be completed by December 2018.

However, at the end of 2017, at a time when Castelbel was exporting about 80% of its production, to a total of 56 countries, the business had the opportunity to open a branded store in an emblematic building in Porto, the Palácio das Artes, managed by Fundação da Juventude; a kind of cherry on top of the cake. The store is located at the top of Rua Ferreira Borges and was inaugurated on March 24, 2018. It’s an area that has undergone a positive transformation; 40 years ago, in a city where people fled to the outskirts, this was a virtually empty place and today radiates life with its many passers-by and visitors.

The new store, very wide, is formed by 2 floors. On the ground floor is the store itself, with the peculiarity of having two workers to pack soap, similar to 100 more who do the same in the factory. On the first floor there are several attractions for visitors: a wall on which are displayed some examples of the 6 million hand-wrapped soaps that the company produces annually; a special 3D printer machine, that allows to record a single soap with the texts or images required by the client; and in the case of groups of up to 20 people, it’s possible to hold workshops where everything is known about the production of soaps, from design to packaging, through manufacturing.

The meaning of the brand’s name can be perceived by deconstructing the word Castêlo (the production is carried out in Castêlo da Maia) and beauty. The concept of ​​beauty is not only about the soap produced, but with a whole idea of ​​aromas and fragrances, incorporated in the candles and diffusers that the brand also commercializes. Although the sense that remains in our memory is olfactory, there is no doubt that the beauty of packaging is a very important factor in the affirmation of products; maybe that's why the Achilles maxim is so appreciated: 'we do not make soaps, we make gifts'. It should be noted that all Castelbel products are made in Portugal, and many of the motifs presented on their packaging are alluding to our culture, such as the Gold & Blue porcelain line, inspired by the tiles of the S. Bento railway station and the Ruby & Red line, with wooden boxes replicating the boxes of Port wine. Not to mention one of the more recent creations, the sardine-shaped soap, one of the soaps preferably packaged in the store.

One thing is certain, Castelbel continues and will continue to enchant and to perfume those who visit it.  
Castelbel Porto