Saving Lives One Bar of Soap at a Time

David Simnick wanted to improve hygiene in the developing world so he Googled “how to make soap” and set out to build a business.

“We knew it was going to be difficult. I don’t think we knew it was going to be this difficult,” he shares.

But a few years and 6 million bars of donated soap later, he knows they are making a difference.

Video Transcript

Washington, DC

Videographer: You’re always picking up litter. What’s that about?

David Simnick: Why not? It doesn’t cost me anything. I have endless amounts of soap, so I can wash my hands whenever I want. It costs nothing to do it.

The reason we started Soap Box was the mission first. I was an intern/subcontractor for the United States Agency for International Development. What really struck me was back in 2009, there was a lot of focus on the water part, but there wasn’t a lot of focus on the hygiene part.

So I was like, you know what, I think that we could start a company where every time someone buys one of our products, we’re going to donate a bar of soap.

We started making soap in my kitchen — literally Googled how to make soap, total fight-club style. People thought I was absolutely crazy.

Soapbox Soaps HQ

We knew it was going to be difficult. I don’t think we knew it was going to be this difficult.

Videographer: What was really hard?

David: About this?

Videographer: Yeah.

David: Practically everything. How do you literally go to war with some of the biggest companies in the world?

Hair care, for example, like shampoos’ and conditioners’ ads are 20 percent of the ad market — so print advertising, TV commercials, digital spending. When it comes to negotiating with buyers, they’ll come to the buyer and say, “I’m going to put $25,000 or $40,000, just cash, on the table if you don’t bring in this brand.”

Videographer: Oh, really?

David: Because we know that we’re beating them. We’re so excited, because this year through our strategic partners, and through these retailers that we have the privilege of selling through, and on Amazon, and on our website — we’re getting close to six million bars of soap that we’re donating. That’s dope. That’s awesome.

Statistically speaking, I know for a fact that we’re going to save some lives. That also helps in doing what’s really hard, because there’s people’s lives on the line.

Look, faith plays a crucial role in my life, because it’s that rock that allows me to do these really scary things. It is incredibly challenging to be the cheerleader for everyone on your team, and be the cheerleader to your investors, and be the cheerleader to all the different sales contacts that you work with, or vendors, or to get through those hard times. But there’s moments where just thoughtful prayer and meditation and connecting with God allows me to be that David versus Goliath.

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