How an Irish soap raises the bar for ethical business
Posted on November 06 2020
It’s rare that you get to work on a project that’s good from the ground up, but Soap With Soul was one of them. We started the whole thing with a phone call to the guys running the programmes in Coolmine and Childvision. It was immediately obvious that we were working on something different – this wasn’t your simple sales-driving product, it was a movement, and one that made us look at business and society totally differently. All that from a bar of soap? Yes, but it’s not the usual sad looking sliver you’ve been avoiding in the shower, this soap has soul.
Crafted by those conquering addiction or living with disabilities, the initiative comes at an appropriate time in Irish culture , as Covid19 sweeps through our communities to reveal the fractured systems underneath – ones that have pushed many vulnerable people to the fringes. This project is here to raise the bar for inclusivity and wash away the stigma of disability and addiction, paving the way for a new kind of inclusive and enterprising Ireland. The process is innovative in that it empowers makers to redefine damaging perceptions that they have of themselves and that society has given them. It confidently allows its makers to take their place in society while also providing a beautiful product with a real story.
When we were asked to tell the story on behalf of the two distinct groups from Coolmine Therapeutic Community and Childvision, we thought we we’d been given a sticky task, but the heart-breaking and heart-warming thing was that all the makers, no matter what their background, were going through the same thing – they were made to feel, in one way or another, that they didn’t quite belong. This project changes that. Soap with Soul washes away the stigma and gives people a role in society, and a chance to prove that they can make a valuable product.
What really stood out from the beginning on this initiative was that the organisers refused to let Soap With Soul fall into the category of a ‘charity’ product, sure, people would be sold on the story, but they would need to come back for the quality. This bold confidence and a need to empower led the whole tone of the project. It’s a new way of looking at business, one that produces products of amazing quality while changing outdated systems at the same time.
This project also scores high in the sustainability stakes, being made with locally sourced botanicals that are sustainable, all natural and made by hands, not machines!
When you realise that every soap you buy makes a direct impact on someone’s life, you begin to wonder why there aren’t more projects like this and why every bathroom in Ireland doesn’t have a bar on their sink, changing stories, and leaving your hands and conscience feeling really clean and smelling like Irish sea moss.
It showed us that we don’t need to choose between initiatives that do well and ones that do good, success doesn’t have to come at someone else’s expense and also, it doesn’t need to look like the charity gift your mother buys for the neighbour at Christmas.
Ethical projects have a new look and a new voice, things are changing and projects like this help to show us how it’s done.
So, businesses, take note; you don’t have to pack in your old model right now, that would be madness, but it’s easy to show support for projects like this. Stock this soap, do some good, say something interesting about your brand and help these stories to keep being told.
It’s never been cooler to be doing good, so let’s make sure it’s not a fad, and let’s ensure that Soap With Soul is just the beginning of a new kind of enterprise and a new flavour of branding here in Ireland.