How Hand in Hand Designs Sustainable Suds

Improving the lives of children in need

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Pictured (left to right): Holly Laporte (Director of Brand Development), Bill Glaab (CEO & Co-Founder), Zofia Wolicki (COO)

Soap and water – two necessities for clean and healthy living. Learn how a Philadelphia soap company took this basic and often overlooked truth and is saving the lives of children in the developing world.

What is Hand In Hand?

Bill Glaab: Hand in Hand is a sustainable soap company with a social mission: for every product purchased, Hand in Hand donates one bar of soap and one month of clean water to a child in need.

Where did the idea for your business come from?

Bill: In 2011, we stumbled upon an article stating 5 million children die each year from water related illnesses. After some research, we learned that 45% of these deaths could be prevented with simple hand washing alone. For years, my wife and now business partner, Courtney Apple, who was my girlfriend at the time, had talked about starting a business together that would give back. We could not believe that hand washing could have such an impact on the lives of children.

My wife also had the realization that whenever she wanted to buy a pretty gift for her mom or her friends, those pretty products with pretty packaging were full of chemicals. Conversely, if she wanted to buy something that was actually good for her body with quality ingredients, they lacked design and aesthetics. So, we decided to bring all of these components together, a product with a social mission with well thought out designs.

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Your slogan is “Buy a Bar, Give a Bar”. Where are you donating these bars of soap?

Bill: To this day, 100% of our donations go to the children of Haiti. When we first started out, the earthquake in Haiti had just hit. We partnered with the world-wide child advocacy group, My Neighbor's Children. On our first trip to Haiti, we met all of these children in orphanages, and were finally able to put faces and personalities to these horrible statistics. They were so excited to interact with us and wash up. Since that first trip, we've decided that our mission would be to help the same kids consistently. We would not focus on how many countries we could reach in the world, but rather help the same children grow and reach adulthood. We would only expand as the business grew and as we could promise the same to more and more kids.

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How does sustainability relate to your mission?

Bill: In every way. We have a 360 degree view of all of our products. A huge thing for us is not using palm oil. Palm oil is natural, but it’s also cheap. The environmental effects of the palm oil industry are vast. The two most harmful impacts to the environment are large scale forest conversions and loss of critical habitat for endangered species.

Additionally, whenever we source ingredients from other countries we always do it Fair Trade, specifically all of our shea and cocoa butter. We could get both of these incredibly cheaply – and we know people respond to those items listed on our packaging, but we feel it's important to be sustainable at every point in the products development and look at the product as as whole and each product’s overall carbon footprint.

What do you like about owning your own business?

Bill: I love being able to collaborate with our team in our own, unique way. Because we don't have to follow the directive of other people, we don't have to have this tug of war over what's best for the business financially and what’s best for our mission. When you're our size and you’re all on the same page with what’s important to us, it's a lot easier to make the morally and ethically correct choices. We have the freedom to make the right choices everyday.

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And finally, why Inspire?

Bill: Well, I'm frankly surprised we didn't do something like this sooner – it's almost embarrassing. But Inspire makes perfect sense for what we're all about. It's just a no-brainer. We’re doing right by the environment and creating jobs. It's awesome.

To find out more and shop Hand in Hand, visit their website and check out their social channels:

Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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