Thursday 17 August 2017

Entrepreneur Interview: Soapy Soap Company and

Mohammed M. Mahdi, Mohammed A. Mahdi, and Anthony Duncan are the Soapy Soap Guys, the entrepreneurs behind the artisanal soap business: the Soapy Soap Company. Their brand came about through a desire to create a more natural, functional bar of soap.  They have recently launched their new website:, the world’s first online soap-making studio where anyone can design their own handcrafted, halal soaps.

As an introduction, can you please tell us about yourself, your background, and what lead you to create
We (Mohammed M. Mahdi, Mohammed A. Mahdi, and Anthony Duncan) are roommates who have always been fascinated with DIY projects, how things work, and how things are made. One day, we realized we were out of bar soap, so we “Googled” soap-making.

We had heard about all-natural soap, and, upon investigation, realized that many commercially available soaps were made with sodium tallowate, derived from animal fats. This didn’t square with our Muslim values, so we decided to try to make halal soap with all-natural base oils like olive oil, palm oil, and canola oil.

We became increasingly intrigued and obsessed, staying up all night making batch after batch of soap. It didn’t take long before our kitchen was filled with enough soap to last 100 years or more. We shared the end product with friends and family who loved the product and we would soon launch Soapy Soap Company (April 2012), as a result. We started doing farmer’s markets and got our soaps into retail locations. After bar soaps, we expanded into lip balms, body sprays with essential oils, body balm stick lotions, and bath soaks.

Early on, we also had the idea to offer small batches of custom soap, but the need for soap to “cure” for 30 days or more made this idea commercially unviable at that time. It wouldn’t be until we perfected our volcano soap-making technique that this concept would be back on the table, and would finally become a reality in 2017.

What made you choose to become an entrepreneur?
We honestly just stumbled into it. I don't think any of us set out to be entrepreneurs, but we are entrepreneurs at heart! Plus, we needed our kitchen back, so we could actually make dinners at home again--instead of batches of soap!

What is the overall aim of the Soapy Soap Company/
People increasingly care about what they put IN their bodies, but they seldom think about what they put ON their bodies. We want to help them start thinking about that--and we want to provide people with the very best, high-quality, cruelty-free, vegan, and halal soaps that we can through Soapy Soap Company.

As far as DesignMySoap goes, we wanted that to be all about empowerment and fun. It isn't just about using or having access to all-natural soap, but also actually getting to actively choose what goes into their soap. From the skin type base to the scents and exfoliates and even the label and what they name their soap, it's like a "selfie" made out of soap.

What problem are you setting out to solve and how?
We wanted to create vegan, halal, and hypoallergenic products that we would want to use ourselves. And we wanted to use simple ingredients that we could actually pronounce! ;-)

What were some of the biggest challenges for you when you were starting your business?
One of the biggest challenges (both then and now) is competing with other body care product companies that make claims that they legally aren't supposed to make. We carefully follow all of the cosmetic product labelling laws, but, unfortunately, not everyone else does. As a result, the playing field isn't quite level.

What do you wish you had known before you had started your business?
We believed strongly in the idea that "If you build it, they will come." We put all of our energy into creating the best possible products, and we did very little in the way of marketing. We now understand that you can have the best product in the world, but, if no one knows about it, it doesn't really matter so much. So, with that said, we wish we had paid closer attention to marketing back then.

What is the most satisfying aspect of running your own business?
We love obsessing over every little detail--from sourcing Rainforest Alliance Certified palm oil for our soap to drop-testing the glass bottles that our body sprays are packaged in. All of our products are made with food-grade quality ingredients and are all-natural, vegan, halal, cruelty-free, gluten-free, and non-GMO and we feel really good about that.

Also, we try to run our business by these specific core principles:

*We value being truthful in all things.
*We value the well-being and happiness of others.
*We value continuously improving ourselves, what we produce, and how we produce it
*We value being compassionate towards all things.

Where do you see your business in the future?
We have had regional success in area stores and at farmers' markets with our Soapy Soap line of products, but we want our products to become nationally known in the U.S.A., with a bigger focus on online retail sales. One way we think we can accomplish that is through since there is nothing else like it around!

What words of wisdom would you give to aspiring entrepreneurs who may be hesitant about taking the first steps towards starting their own business?
Be passionate about what you're doing, be honest with yourself and those around you, and have fun along the way.

I really enjoyed the interview and the sense of fun the guys bring to their work.  They have also been featured in the latest edition of Oprah's O Magazine (September 2017), which is an impressive achievement, if you happen to come across an issue, do check it out. 

You can find out more about the Soapy Soap Company here and here.

You can also find them on FacebookTwitterYouTube and Instagram.

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