You could say the story of Dave Simnick and Eric Vong’s business is a soap opera of sorts.
“Something as simple as a bar of soap can save lives,” said Simnick—who alongside Vong, run SoapBox Soaps. Through their website, SoapBoxSoaps.com, they sell USDA-certified organic soap.
But for every bar of soap they sell, they send one to a person in need, whether they’re in the United States or across the globe.
“I think social mission products are the next big thing,” said Simnick. “And I think that’s smart not only for the business side, but it’s also because you really get to change the world for running a business like this.”
The two Naperville North alums and recent college graduates were Boy Scouts together and knew they wanted to start a business that helped others. After a few start up ventures, Simnick experimented with creating a homespun soap recipe.
“I made my own batch of soap with a bunch of friends that I was living with while in [Washington] D.C. and they thought I was crazy,” said Simnick. “They came back home one Saturday, and here I am, stirring a bucket of soap.”
That bucket of soap satisfied Simnick’s desire to create a product that could help others, and Vong is thrilled to help the business grow into its second year.
“In the very short term, we’re developing contracts with a few smaller boutique shops that may want to stock our product on their shelves,” said Vong. “We’re trying to get outside of just our online distribution.”
SoapBox says that about 22,000 children under the age of five die everyday from illnesses that could be prevented by good hygiene and the availability of a bar of soap.
Simnick and Vong hope their simple contribution will help more children survive.
The soap they sell online to domestic customers is slightly different than the aid soap produced and distributed for charities.
“Because of [different water properties and chemicals across the world], our soap needs to be different,” said Simnick.
Stirring up a soap formula was about the last thing Simnick and Vong thought they’d be doing for a living (in addition to other full-time jobs), but the company fills their need to make a difference in the lives of others.
“There was this moment where it’s like, ‘You too can change the world!’ and that drove me,” said Simnick.
“I know for me…the idea of helping people all over the world is motivating enough.”
In turn, the two friends trust consumers to make a choice to help those in need.
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