Major downer alert: Over 1.7 million kids die each year from illnesses that could be prevented simply by washing their hands with soap. That makes me feel like this. But major upper alert! There are wonderful people in the world working to do something about that. One of them is my lovely friend, Mera McGrew, who recently launched Soapply. What is Soapply? It’s an all natural, toxin-free soap made from food grade organic oils that is delivered directly to your door. Nice, right? Even nicer is that every Soapply purchase helps fund up to $10 worth of impact through water, sanitation and hygiene initiatives in Tigray, Ethiopia.
Interested in trying Soapply out for yourself? Use the code SOAPPLIEDBYLAURA at checkout for 10% off your first order! Get your first bottle here. 🙌 (Global Handwashing Day is October 15, so it’s the perfect time to treat yourself to some luxe soap.)
I sat down with Mera to chat about the brand, the mission, and how she’s working to knock out preventable death.
When did you decide to start Soapply?
I decided to start Soapply after learning one stark fact – 1.7 million children die every year because of diseases that could be prevented through the simple act of handwashing with soap.
The idea was simple, sell better soap in the US that could help get soap in the hands of those who needed it around the world. After all, everyone needs soap!
Was there a specific experience that led you to start Soapply?
It was more a collection of moments and a series of personal experiences that lead me to start Soapply (and launch with the product, mission, and vision I did).
I’ve always had extremely sensitive skin. Growing up, I suffered from eczema and a lot of products, including soaps, really irritated my skin. It was out of a need that I learned to be aware of what I was putting on my body. But, to be honest, it was never something I thought all that much about — when I was in grade school, my dermatologist identified a few products I could use without having any problems and I continued to purchase those products until after I’d graduated from college. I don’t think I ever actually took time to read the product’s labels.
The first time I actually turned over a soap bottle to scrutinize the ingredients was when my mother had been diagnosed with breast cancer and was undergoing chemotherapy. Soap was proving harsh on her dry, easily irritated skin and the fragrances added to most soap was causing her nausea. She needed to be able to wash her hands (and body) and even the mild soap I’d been using all those years was too harsh. Searching for a solution, I was appalled by how hard it was to find soap she could actually use — everything on the shelf was full of chemicals and synthetic fragrances.
We ended up finding soap she could wash with at a local shop, she finished chemotherapy, her cancer was in remission, and I took a job in Africa, over 9,000 miles away from where I grew up.
Living and working in Africa, I saw first-hand the reality of preventable child mortality. I also had a chance to see the difference that sustainable investments in water, sanitation, and hygiene could have on an individual, a village, and an entire region. It was the first time I realized handwashing with soap meant more than clean hands, it meant improved health, better nutrition, more time in school, more opportunities, and less inequality.
Everyone needs soap. I started Soapply when I returned to the US because I realized I could sell better soap that everyone could actually use – from my cousin’s wife going through chemo to my best friend working in a hospital ER — and simultaneously empower conscious consumers to help improve and save lives around the world.
Who is the Soapply customer?
Soapply customers value craftsmanship, are health conscious, and seek out products (and brands) that align with their own values. Soapply is delivering the next generation of luxury soap to conscious consumers that recognize their purchases matter and the soap next to their sink makes a statement.
Where do you see the brand in 5 years?
Soapply is starting simple, with a single product – liquid hand soap — delivered directly to consumers. As we grow, we’re focused on improving and evolving to ensure it’s as easy as possible for our customers to make better choices for their health, the environment, and society when it comes to the products they use every day.
How do you measure success?
Soapply is a public benefit corporation, which means that we measure the public benefit we provide alongside the traditional corporate goals of maximizing profits. This is a big deal – it’s a legal structure that puts our mission central to everything we do and ensures it’s protected going forward as we evolve and grow.
What have been the most rewarding aspect of launching the brand?
The most rewarding thing at this point is when customers provide positive feedback on the product we’re delivering. It lets us know we’re really on to something.
For example, this week we got an email from a Soapplier (that’s what we call our customers) saying, “my son has sensory issues and one is with smells. I have to find unscented everything so I was thrilled that your soap is not only delicious on my skin and cleans so thoroughly, but it doesn’t smell anything but good. He hasn’t complained about it once or had any issues! That’s HUGE. Believe me!” I wanted to frame that email. There are so many people out there that have sensitivities to things found in soap on store shelves. Even if you aren’t one of them, a family member, friend or coworker likely is and we’re increasingly hearing from people thanking us for providing a product that they can actually use or put out for those they care about to use.
Thanks to Mera for chatting and for creating a great product that has an amazing impact. And remember to use code SOAPPLIEDBYLAURA on your first order of Soapply. Happy Washing!