WWB IDEAL FIND: SoapBox
Co-Founder: David Simnick ( present for Q&A)
Authentic Dedication: Empowering our customers with the ability to make the world a better place through everyday quality purchases
Lauroly Opening: Welcome Dave to World Wise Beauty. So happy to have you visit and share your story with us. Your company SoapBox has been selected as an Ideal Find and I must say you are the picture perfect company I envisioned when thinking about brands driven by their social values. From what I understand, you started out as an enterprising college student making and selling soap on the side while attending school. Your brand tag line is Soap=Hope and this is based on the following facts. Millions around the world still lack access to public sanitation facilities, clean water and soap. Many diseases are caused by unhygienic conditions and could be avoided. So you created this great business model where your company and the consumers who buy your products could provide the necessary resources needed for children around the world to have a chance to live a clean and healthy life. Wow! Now that’s a mission! So with no further delay I will let you tell us about your brand mission and how you practically manifest your values into everything you do with SoapBox.
David Simnick, Co-Founder, SoapBox
SoapBox did come from a college project, but from the very beginning the aid mission was ingrained in what we did. I had worked in the non-profit and government sector and felt that there were other ways to do aid. We wanted to find a way to give back and to build something that was truly meaningful to people involved. I also wanted to find a way to give back that could really make a difference with the issues I was seeing in my work. Now with something as simple as a bar of soap, you’re looking at helping around 22,000 children every day who are dying from preventable diseases under the age of 5. On top of that, you’re looking at so many other hygiene-related things that, if you catch them on the front end with clean water and clean sanitation, there’s so much that you can do.
SoapBox exists to empower customers to change the world through their everyday, quality purchases, and that is our mission behind what we do. We are a young company run by people full of energy and ideas, and we also are full of the results-oriented people who put those ideas into action!
Lauroly Q- Where did you start and how do you select who to help when there are so many global communities that need help? What I have learned is you work with non-profit partners like Vitamin Angels and RainCatcher which is a great way to accelerate your mission. I also should mention that you also give back to shelters and organizations at home too, not just abroad. Give us some examples of how your ‘one for one’ business model works…
: Well, originally I went to American University because I thought I wanted to go into government, and I interned at multiple places both in the for profit and non-profit sectors and at USAID while in school. I graduated a year early from American but still had no idea what I wanted to do. Around then I was offered a full-time job with this subcontractor for USAID. However, I turned it down and because I really began to feel like there was a better way to help. I was looking for a job that fully consumed me, and I wanted leadership, service, and challenge. That led me to decide to join the Marine Corp. A week before I basically finalized all my papers, I met up with a friend of mine and he told me, before you ship out you should help out my start-up company. So I arrived there and started helping him out, and realized I loved it. Everything I was looking for in a job and career just clicked and I realized, this is it. I called the recruiting officer and I told him I would come next season because I’d found something I want to explore.
I had a couple odd jobs here and there after that start-up went under, and I was eventually working for another contractor and when it hit me that I want to start my own company. I called up my best friend, a fellow Eagle Scout, and told him we were going to start a soap company. He thought I was kidding the first time I called him, but we did it!
Like I said above, soap can really affect hygiene situations, and we give bar soaps, clean water, and vitamins with our three product lines. We are trying to cover the whole picture of health and, hopefully, make a lasting difference. Our bar soaps give a bar directly, our hand soaps give a months supply of clean water through our aid partner RainCatcher, our body wash give a year’s supply of vitamins through our aid partner VitaminAngels. The bar soaps we give in the US to homeless shelters and food banks through our partner Global Soap Project, and abroad we purchase soap in local communities or work with local non-profits to start a soap-making business.
Lauroly Q- If your story wasn’t wonderful enough I was really excited to learn about the ‘clean’ production of all your products. You make a great effort to be transparent about all the ingredients you use. I was thrilled to hear you are cruelty free, vegan certified, gluten-free, made in America, Palm oil free, paraben free, petrochemical free, phthalate free, sulfate free, and 100% recyclable! Woo-hoo! When I see companies like yours, I have to ask, why can’t all companies go in this direction? You make hand-soaps, hand wash and body wash and they all smell good and feel good too! Tell us in a nutshell how you are able to produce such a wonderful product line? I ask this because many don’t understand what it takes to produce a quality product at mass levels…
You said it! We’ve found that people have a lower expectation of social mission products because they have been told to believe that paying more for a low quality product is justified through the aid mission. We aren’t about to settle for that, so we have to balance the aid mission with clearly stating our product’s benefits as well. People will buy the first time for the social mission, but to buy again, the user experience has to be excellent! I started making the soap in my college apartment kitchen, but we definitely don’t do that anymore!
Our soaps are scented only with essential oils to be gentle on skin, and are full of coconut oil, olive oil, corn oil, soybean oil, and are super moisturizing because of it! It does take a lot of work to ensure each bottle and box is to our high standards, but we believe in our product and don’t want people to buy it just for the social mission alone.
Lauroly Q- You know Dave, SoapBox really is the ‘epitome’ of an ‘Ideal Find’. Your company is close to ‘angelic’. That must feel mighty good! You launched in 2010 and quickly grew. What are some of the retail outlets we can find you in?
David Simnick: Well, we just got into five new Whole Foods regions and are launching a giving program with each of the regions. Each region’s bar sales are correlated with one large food bank in the area. This hyper-local giving ensures that we don’t forget those in need who are right here in the USA. So far the program includes Northern California, Southern Pacific, Rocky Mountains, Florida, and the Northeast regions of Whole Foods but we hope to expand soon!
In addition to Whole Foods, we are in tons of natural products stores and are just starting to step our toes into big box retailers. Check out our retail locator on our website to see if we are in a chain near you!
Lauroly Closing: Thank you for stopping by Dave. You are an inspiration and make me think about pioneers in social capitalism like Anita Roddick (founder of Body Shop) and Paul Hawken (founder of Smith & Hawken Garden Store). Anita and Paul would be very proud of you! You truly do give us hope! Hope for a better world and better commerce. Keep up the great work and go out there and show other young entrepreneurs how capitalism with a conscience can work! I am sure all my lovely followers will be trying SoapBox products and spreading more HOPE amongst their friends because they are compassionate and wise…