After travelling from war torn Syria with her husband and three children Razan Al-Sous settled in Huddersfield, a far cry from her former home of Damascus. Despite being well qualified for a job, having studied pharmaceuticals and microbiology, she was unable to find work because she had no citizenship.
Unsure what to do about her work situation, Razan realised that Halloumi cheese, a market worth over £35 million in the UK which is the second largest consumer of the product in Europe, only had six UK based producers. The majority of Halloumi was being imported into the country from Cyprus.
Spotting an opportunity to enter the market with her own product, Razan set to work. With the support of a £2,500 Start Up Loan, she set up her own company Yorkshire Dama Cheese, making Halloumi cheese, a popular food product that is widely regarded as having originated in the Middle East. Needing to produce the cheese in decent quantities, but with limited funds, Razan’s husband, an electrical engineer, helped her reconfigure equipment so that she could create her cheese on an industrial scale, using locally sourced milk. She was further aided by the fact that the small premises she took up belonged to her brother in law which helped to keep costs down.
After just four months of being in business the high quality of Razan’s cheese was already being recognised when she won the World Cheese Award Bronze Medal, having competed against 2,750 other manufacturers.
She finished 6th in a Yorkshire search for the county’s best entrepreneur and David Cameron selected her for International Women’s Day as an ambassador. She has taken part in filming with the TV chef James Martin for his BBC1 programme and won the Deliciously Yorkshire Award for Best Cheese and Best New Business back in 2015. Razan has also won The World Cheese Award Gold Prize, shortlisted Best Cheese at Yorkshire DY Award, and been Shortlisted Best New Business at the British Muslim Awards.
With all of this success and interest in her product, Razan turned her thoughts to expanding to larger premises, and setting up a deli in the centre of town called Road to Damascus. Razan was honoured to have HRH The Princess Royal open the new factory in Sowerby Bridge on 25th January 2017. They also launched their new smoked halloumi cheese at the opening. In the future, Razan plans to open a deli shop at the factory and visitors will be able to see the cheese being produced. She also has plans to re-brand using the new name ‘Yorkshire Squeaky.’