While Americans stock up on gifts this holiday shopping weekend, there’s a way to support a worthy cause at the same time. SoapBox Soaps is one of a growing number of companies that are aiming to good in the world while they turn profits. Geoff Bennett filed the following report.
With its all natural ingredients and scents like tea and ginger and cinnamon spice, SoapBox Soaps could be mistaken as just another high-end brand. But SoapBox is in the business of changing lives.
“Something as simple as a bar of soap could ultimately be saving a child’s life or a person’s life, either just down the street at a local homeless shelter or food pantry or around the world,” said David Simnick, co-founder and CEO of SoapBox Soaps.
For every bar of soap purchased, SoapBox donates a bar to a child in need.
David Simnick co-founded the company three years ago, after learning that limited access to soap poses one of the biggest hygiene challenges in the developing world.
Nearly two million people, mostly children, die each year from hygiene-related illnesses.
“We started with the aid mission first. We had no idea how to run a soap company. I made the first batch in my college basement. People thought I was trying to start a fight club or potentially make elicit material. For me, I wanted to find an alternative way to build a sustainably giving organization,” Simnick said.
By the end of the year, SoapBox says it will have given away close to 60,000 bars of soap. Its "buy one, give one" model has been popularized by well-known brands such as Warby Parker, which donates a pair of eyeglasses for every pair purchased or Toms, which does the same with shoes.
There is a positive impact, sure, but the free products could have the unintended effect of putting local vendors out of business. Simnick says his company tries to work with local soapmakers in the areas where they're donating.
"It's about spreading the importance of this simple act,” Simnick said, referring to washing hands, “and eventually removing ourselves from the picture so that community can support itself.”
As SoapBox Soaps turns profits into purpose.
"Everybody needs to buy soap. Everybody hopefully is doing this at some point of the week. We just want to enable people with the ability that this means something more,” Simnick said.
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