Category Archives: Soap Hope Family

The Soap Hope Team: Meet Rachel

Written by Craig Tiritilli, cofounder of Soap Hope. 

Startups aren’t easy.

Rachel Winstead knows. She’s seen more than her fair share of them.

Before Soap Hope, Rachel was editor of Launch DFW, an online publication that focuses on technology startups in the North Texas area. She discovered her love for writing and building communities through her involvement there.

Before Launch DFW, her early career took her through corporate America and other large organizations with posts in mortgage banking firms and educational institutions. Those less-than-fulfilling experiences helped her realize that she needed to be part of something with a focus on making a real and lasting difference in the world.

A chance meeting with Soap Hope cofounder, Salah Boukadoum, set in motion a career change that would land her in a spot where she could do just that.

Rachel is in charge of what Soap Hope says to the world. Whether it’s Twitter, Facebook, the Good Life Blog (you get the picture), Rachel is the one doing the talking.

Her natural love for communicating and bringing people together make her ideal for giving a voice to the company. Her formal education in English doesn’t hurt, either.

When asked why she decided to join Soap Hope, Rachel says that the diverse team was a big factor. “The variety of perspectives here is surprising and really positive. Everyone is very different, but somehow it works – it made it easy for me to fit in here at Soap Hope,” says Rachel.

In describing her impression of the company, Rachel says, “Soap Hope is an intense environment. I’ve never worked with a group of people that push harder to accomplish everything they do in a day. At the same time, my coworkers make this such a rewarding and fun place to work. And, of course, there’s our mission of alleviating poverty and empowering women — it’s always top of mind.”

Rachel (middle) with two of her siblings, before her Soap Hope days.
Rachel (middle) with two of her siblings, before her Soap Hope days.

Rachel’s dad was in the army,  and her family moved often when she was growing up — so often that she attended three different high schools. Moving around did help her to develop close bonds with her younger sister and two younger brothers. She thinks that the moving around and being the oldest influenced her to be a nurturing person and natural conflict resolver.

Ironically, Rachel is a bit of an introvert. After spending her day writing, posting, blogging, and talking with lots of Soap Hope supporters, she prefers quiet time. Away from the office she can be found hanging with close friends, attempting to run, or reading.

“After a day of total outward focus, I need to recharge with more personal activities,” says Rachel.

In addition to her regular social media and communication activities, Rachel has a lot on her plate. She’s the go-to person whenever an opinion on a customer facing event or item is needed (which, by the way, happens several times a day).

Rachel is also in charge of the company’s Ambassador Program. In that role she recruits, trains and motivates the people that help spread the word about Soap Hope.

It takes a special kind of person to thrive in a startup filled with people building a business and changing the world — which is why Rachel is a perfect fit.

 

FUN FACTS ABOUT RACHEL:

Favorite color: Green
Earliest memory: Living through a tornado
Favorite food: Ice cream, always.
Favorite book: Wise Blood by Flannery O’Connor

Here are a few of Rachel’s favorite products at Soap Hope!

 

 

Header image credit: Emmanuel Lopez (edited for size by us)

The Soap Hope Team: Meet Kyle

About three months ago, I started working at Soap Hope. And that’s where I met Kyle Lukianuk.

Kyle falls into the category of what market researchers are calling “Millennials.” The specifics of what age group makes up this demographic has been debated, but it’s suggested that anyone born between 1980 and 1995 might possess Millennial-type traits. Especially when it comes to work habits and career choices.

Millennials are often determined to be driven and passionate — as long as they actually care about the end goal and reason behind what they’re doing.

Meeting Kyle and working with him has been nothing short of wonderful. He’s passionate and charming, and we joke that he’s the most photogenic of the Soap Hope team.

And I think you should meet him.

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Kyle was born in Michigan, and grew up in a tight knit family. He moved around a bit as a kid, after his dad ended his career as an international lawyer and went into a career in Christian school administration.

“I was in highschool when he made the change, and it made an impression on me – he started pursuing something he was passionate about,” says Kyle.

Kyle also made a shift, of sorts. He became more outgoing, and got more involved in school and sports (especially basketball). His dad was principal (for a period of time) at the highschool he attended before he moved to Chicago after his sophomore year, and they grew surprisingly closer.

When it came time to pick colleges, Kyle decided on Southern Methodist University here in Dallas. He had family here, fell in love with SMU’s campus, and he was accepted into the Business Scholar program.

Kyle studied Finance and was able to land an internship with a private trading firm on the Chicago Board of Trade.

“That’s what I thought I’d end up doing, working as a trader on the Board of Trade. It was challenging, and there was plenty of opportunity to reap financial rewards,” he says.

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Kyle, on his recent travels in Iceland

He enjoyed the competitive atmosphere – the work was intense and the lifestyles of his coworkers matched that intensity.

Then Kyle got the opportunity to live abroad during his junior year, and it was this opportunity that would influence a pretty drastic change in course for his career path.

“I witnessed first-hand the issues that exist in communities around the world: poverty, human trafficking – the kinds of issues that force people into cycles they get stuck in,” he explain.

That’s when he realized he didn’t want turn the internship with the Board of Trade into a full-time job.

“I didn’t want to turn into the kind of person that I saw in that work environment,” Kyle explains.

After turning down the position, he started to go through what he calls his “quarter life crisis.”

He accepted a position with Bank of America after graduation, but continued to feel that same discontent.

“I really wanted to start something that would make a difference, that actually mattered to me, and that might impact other people,” he explains.

Kyle started volunteering with different programs locally, and through that involvement he met Salah Boukadoum (cofounder of Soap Hope).

“I brought an idea to him about microfinancing, and after talking with him for a bit, he sort of tore the idea apart,” Kyle laughs.

But they kept talking, and started to discuss the Good Returns model. Yes, that’s the same model Soap Hope uses to send all of our profits to make an impact on women around the world.

Kyle spent a year and a half volunteering with Salah – they wrote an academic paper on the Good Returns model – when eventually Salah brought Kyle on full time to further develop the model and build partnerships.

Kyle manages Operations here at Soap Hope, ensuring that our day-to-day processes run smoothly and keeping our customers happy.

He wears a lot of hats here at Soap Hope, and working with him keeps me on my toes. Always insightful and generous, Kyle doesn’t hesitate to extend help where he can.

Before he left for college, Kyle’s dad told him two things: always invest in people, and that he hoped Kyle would find his calling and passion in life before he did.

“You only get one chance to live your life, and I’m swinging for the fences,” says Kyle.

I’m sure Kyle’s dad is very proud.

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Fun Kyle Facts:

soap hope favoritesFavorite place he’s traveled: “Iceland, China, Cinqueterra, and Prague were all amazing.”
Favorite beer: Peticolas Velvet Hammer
Favorite animal: dog
Favorite concert: Ben Howard
Favorite Soap Hope product: A Wild Soap Bar’s Timber and Coal

The Soap Hope Team: Meet Craig

Building a small business isn’t for the faint of heart. It takes a person with a certain kind of gumption to navigate the risks that come with owning and operating a business.

Starting Soap Hope

Craig Tiritilli is no stranger to the world of startups. He met Soap Hope cofounder, Salah Boukadoum, in their previous business that together they managed, grew and later sold. After that experience, they realized that they wanted to start another company together.

Craig Tiritilli“We spent a lot of time coming up with business ideas. The idea of Soap Hope and Good Returns evolved over time – the original pillars of our mission remain, but the implementation has been refined over time,” explains Craig.

He’d always been concerned with healthful living, and liked the idea of natural products, but starting a business like Soap Hope was a new experience.

Soap Hope is a Good Returns company, meaning every dollar of profit is used in programs that support women. Those dollars spend a year doing good for women (both abroad and right here in the U.S.), and are then returned to Soap Hope.

“Cash is a major consideration in any startup, but in one that carries inventory, the issue is significantly magnified. We had to balance the financing requirements with the desire to use our profits to serve our social mission,” says Craig.

“As we got started, there were things we didn’t anticipate. We had to refine the Good Returns program to enable us to grow our business and make resources available for our mission. Eventually the program reached a point that would work not only for Soap Hope, but for a lot of companies of varying sizes.”

Behind the Scenes

Working on Soap Hope and growing it has bled into other areas of his life. He’s a big fan of the products that we carry here at Soap Hope, and uses them in his own household regularly.

“I love the Seaweed Bath Company products and A Wild Soap Bar soaps. And I’m looking forward to using the Better Life cleaning line at the house, too,” says Craig.

When he has spare time (which can be hard to come by when growing a small business), Craig likes spending time with his family and friends. Health and fitness have always been important to him, as well, so he enjoys exercising and staying active.

The Future of Soap Hope

“It’s exciting to see how much we’ve grown and accomplished in this past year,” says Craig, “especially in these last few months. Our team is growing, and the industry is really hitting its stride.”

And it’s important to everyone here at Soap Hope that we continue to fulfill the mission that the company was founded on.

Responsible Business

“I believe it’s really is up to businesses to be an example when it comes to sustainability and social responsibility,” says Craig.

“Governments and traditional aid organizations can only handle a portion of the burden of addressing the world’s most challenging problems, and the number of individuals with the resources to make a significant impact is relatively small. That leaves businesses,” says Craig. “So being a part of a company that is designed from the ground up to impact communities and larger issues like poverty has been extremely fulfilling.”

“Being attached to that bigger purpose, with people that care deeply about what we are working to achieve, has been really important to me,” says Craig.

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You can learn more about the Good Returns business model here.

And check out some of these “Craig-approved” products in our store!

We Vote

America is an amazing place for entrepreneurs.

In America you can start a business to do just about anything, anytime, and usually without anyone’s permission. We wanted to sell soap bars to change the world. It took a two-page form, twenty minutes, and $300 to incorporate a company in Texas. We filed the paperwork online from the kitchen table.

In America you can freely compete with other businesses. It might be hard, and the big guys might have an advantage, but any person can decide at any time to be an entrepreneur. Here, an entrepreneur’s only limitation is herself.

In America you can freely state your opinions about the rules we live by together, and you can work to change them if they are wrong. If you don’t like the rules, you can get your voice heard, organize a movement, nominate a candidate, and create change.

Do you agree or disagree with the notion that companies should label foods that are genetically modified? Do you agree or disagree that there should not be new taxes on Internet sales? Do you agree or disagree that plastic microbeads should be prohibited in products that reach our water supply? You can elect representatives who share your values.

If you want your voice to be heard you can get to know your representatives, learn about the issues by researching online and talking with others, and vote. Election day is November 4.

As entrepreneurs we value everyone’s right to vote. That’s why Soap Hope has a policy in support of employee voting. Every team member gets paid time off to vote in local, state and national elections. If you are a business owner, we encourage you to consider a similar policy. You can find ours here: Soap Hope Policy in Support of Employee Voting.

Beginnings

Salah's Itinerary
I ran across the itinerary for my 1993 six week concert tour through Africa and the Middle East.

 

Prelude

Some of you know that I started my working life as a classical pianist, not as an entrepreneur. In 1993 I was very lucky to go on a six week international tour through Africa and the Middle East, traveling through almost a dozen countries and playing concerts in national theaters, universities, and ambassadors’ halls.

The core idea behind Soap Hope really started all those years ago. After one concert, I had the fortune to spend time with the Director of the World Bank in Kenya. He explained to me about his efforts to address poverty in Kenya. He told me that of every ten dollars sent to alleviate poverty in Kenya, nine went to corruption.

That challenge stuck with me for years: only 10% of the aid that was intended for the extreme poor was making it to those who needed it.

Main Event

It was three companies and 15 years later that Soap Hope was born. When we designed our model for addressing world problems, we wanted to learn from the lessons of that evening in Nairobi. We didn’t want 90% of our effort lost. The Good Returns model was born.

We don’t give money away – we invest in women. When you buy your household products every month from Soap Hope, we send all the profits to women – every dollar – so they can start or expand their own small enterprises around the world, whether in Kenya, or in the Dominican Republic, or right here in Dallas.

How do I know the money isn’t being lost? Because every dollar is repaid after one year, interest-free. We don’t take anything out of our company until those profits are returned. Only then do we get the rewards of our entrepreneurship.

Our intention is to provide opportunity with accountability: yes, all of our business profits are loaned interest free, but all of those profits are required to be returned after they have done good in the world for one year. This approach puts us and those we help on the same page, responsible to each other.

Our vision is to take Soap Hope from the small business it is today to a nationally recognized enterprise, serving millions of customers and millions of women around the world. Then we want to teach many other companies to do the same. I’m so grateful and delighted that you have been an early adopter, creating this vision with us by shopping at Soap Hope and sharing the Soap Hope story.

Encore

I still love music and playing the piano, and when the day comes that Soap Hope is big enough to operate without me every day, I will start working on concert material again. The next time around, I want to play fundraiser concerts to raise awareness and money for sustainable social enterprises. I hope you’ll join me then too.

Yours,

Salah

Salah Boukadoum
Co-Founder, Soap Hope
salah@soaphope.com