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    • Please join me in welcoming David Simnick for a Cake Panel today.

      A little bit about David:  David Simnick is the CEO and Co-founder of Soapbox Soaps. He had the idea for Soapbox when he was working as a subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development and then began making soap on the side. Soapbox had their first big break selling with WholeFoods, and currently sells their personal care products in major retailers across the US. SoapBox Soaps manufactures, supplies, and donates soaps to families at homeless shelters, women shelters, and nursing homes.

      Welcome David!

    • So you started in 2009, making your first batch of soap in your college kitchen, because you wanted to use business to do social good. Can you tell us about your work with USAID and why soap was the connector between business and giving back?

    • First off, Victoria, thank you so much for doing this Cake panel interview with us. We have come a long, long way. We still have a long way to go. And a lot of the growth and success has been built off the amazing team we have here. Everyone works incredibly hard, and it’s wonderful to not only see a great product go to consumers buying it in a wide variety of stores or Amazon, but it’s so moving that each and every purchase means there’s a soap we can donate.
      When I was a subcontractor for USAID I was able to learn about the US development work all around the world, this is where projects were happening, this is where we were going. And back in 2009, there wasn’t a lot of focus on hygiene. Oftentimes in international development, there’s an acronym - WASH - for Water Sanitation and Hygiene. I wanted to focus on the hygiene aspect, because there’s a lot of focus on water. And I wanted to create an enterprise that could sustain itself while giving. So I wanted to sell soap to take care of the hygiene projects around the world. So I googled how to make soap and started doing that in my kitchen. And the first batch turned out pretty well!

    • It took you two years to break into your first retail location in 2011, as well as to make your first domestic and international soap donations. Were you nervous those first two years that people might not resonate with your product and mission?

    • Oh my God, yeah. All the time. It was definitely a lot to grow. The story of Soapbox was we got into our first retailer, we had terrible branding, an awful price point - so many things were just wrong. But we kept expanding, and we surrounded ourselves with mentors and advisors who knew how to build the brand, and most importantly we listened. We kept focusing on “What can WE do to ensure that we can continue to support the mission by having a more successful brand.” It wasn’t until 2016 that we realized we had bad branding. So we relaunched in 2017 with new branding, it hit market-wide in 2018, so that’s what you see today. But we’re a unique story because we didn’t give up.

    • Once Soapbox broke through in 2012 - getting coverage in publications like FITNESS and your first Whole Foods location - it seems like everything started moving forward much more quickly. What was that time like as you grew and scaled your team and product?

    • Pretty hectic, and the other thing was that we still didn’t know what we were doing. I don’t think we started hitting our stride until 2017-2018 when we realized what was working for the markets in which we were selling. But back in 2012, I was driving around the Mid-Atlantic region of Whole Foods, doing demos myself, just trying to sell as much product as possible!

    • The “Hope Code” idea is really cool. Where did it come from? Do you hear from people who get personally involved with the causes they find using their Hope Codes? (Hope Codes are unique codes on various Soapbox products you can enter in the website to see where your purchase is having an impact)

    • Some people take their Hope Codes, and then they actually donate directly the organization, so that’s really cool. We wanted to provide visibility through the Hope Codes - you can kick our tires, and go even beyond this, so you know we are who we say we are.

    • In 2013, you added giving vitamins and fresh water along with soap (through your partnership with Raincatcher, Vitamin Angels and Clean the World). How does Soapbox find its charitable partners, and how have those relationships grown over the years?

    • We get inbounds from people all the time. We basically have new charities reaching out to us, 3,4, even 5 a week. So we’ve doubled down on the partnerships we have. But we are also very selective on how we vet and ensure that these organizations are doing the good they say they are doing. And we want to increase the partnerships we are already doing. We focus on soap: every time someone buys one of our products, we donate a bar of soap, and that’s what we do.

    • You have gotten to travel around the world to meet some of Soapbox’s charitable partners. What was the most interesting, off-the-beaten path experience on one of these trips?

    • I would say being up in Northern Mumbai, that was such an amazing experience, and being able to really work, roll up our sleeves, and learn from our aid partners there as well as contribute was fantastic. Our Aid Partner was Sundara Fund, and we were going over WASH education with them - water, sanitation and hygiene. It was a weeklong trip, and we were able to be part of a welcome ceremony for a Soapbox-funded WASH education program. It’s a building where soap is recycled. The soap is recycled from hotels, and we also fund hygiene ambassadors who go and teach health and hygiene to children throughout the local community.

    • Sign up for our newsletter, or follow us on Instagram. And we also have the privilege and honor of being on podcasts or publications on a pretty frequent basis. We hope you follow us, see what we’re up to. One of the biggest things I’m always blown away by is how everyday goods, simple purchases, can really add up. REALLY add up. And the whole idea of Soapbox is that we want to provide an amazing product that’s naturally sourced and that not only provides a wonderful experience for that consumer but also enables them to make a difference throughout the world.