BY ROSIE PIGA PIZZO
It was all just good clean fun. Literally.
What started as two guys in their kitchen making a few batches of soap a couple of years ago has turned into a business that distributes its line of natural products to more than 20 dealers in the Midwest, including Bloomingfoods in Bloomington and Whole Foods in Indianapolis.
Mohammed M. Mahdi and Anthony Duncan are the founders and owners of Soapy Soap Company. The enterprise quickly outgrew their kitchen and moved to a warehouse on West Hillside Drive last September.
Mahdi and Duncan have no background in chemistry, but they learned how to create all-natural soaps. “We read a lot of books, did a lot of research,” says Mahdi, who has a degree in psychology.
“It’s definitely a process,” says Duncan, who holds undergraduate degrees in linguistics and German. “We had to make thirty-some batches to see what works.”
Their brand of soaps, called Sabun (meaning soap in Urdu/Hindi), are vegan, non-GMO (genetically modified organism), gluten-free, halal (“Muslim friendly”), and cruelty-free (not tested on animals). They use essential oils purchased in Indiana.
“We created soaps for their attributes, based on qualities of essential oils,” says Mahdi. “There’s a lot of thought that goes into each recipe.” The Replenish bar, the company’s bestseller, is known for its moisturizing properties due to a blend of olive, palm, and coconut oils. Other signature lines include Deodorize Unscented Soap (removes scents, including garlic), Camper’s Soap (contains citronella essential oil to repel mosquitos), and a dog wash soap. Each 4-ounce bar is handmade and hand cut and sells for $5.75.
Mahdi’s brother, Mohammed A. Mahdi, joined the team last year as director of sales. “We’re proud and excited to get our soap out there,” he says. A team of five to eight student interns from Indiana University and Ivy Tech Community College also helps produce, market, and sell up to one thousand bars of soap a week. Other products include lip balms, body balms, and candles.
Along with selling to retail stores, Soapy Soap Company is a regular vendor at farmers’ markets. For a list of places where soaps are sold or to purchase online, visit their website.