Marla Bosworth, CEO and Founder of Back Porch Soap Company, and Amanda Griffin, the brains behind Lovin’ Soap, both HSMG members and speakers at our 2013 conference, recently returned from a whirlwind trip to Haiti.
There, they taught two dozen women from OFEDA (Organisation des Femmes Devouees en Action), a group formed after the 2010 earthquake, the basics of soapmaking and making natural body care products.
Over a period of just six days, Marla and Amanda traveled to the site, spent two days sourcing local ingredients, and held two full days of workshops, including classes on how to make soap, sugar scrubs, and hair and body oils.
What brought them there? Google.
Human rights photographer Paula Allen had been working with the 200-woman strong organization on a greeting card business, when they expressed a desire to make soap. Not having any experience in the area, she turned to Google, where she found Marla, who turned to the soapmaking community for help and found Amanda ready and willing to take on an ambitious project.
Between Marla and Amanda’s thorough planning and their support team (a local driver, Paula, and translators Louis, Rodny and Angie), their first international project went off without a hitch, despite the lack of electricity, running water, and language differences.
The biggest surprise, report both women, is that they fell in love in Haiti and can’t wait until April, when they will return to teach more advanced business topics including production and distribution to help the group launch their new soap business.
Marla shares, “These women are amazingly powerful and underestimated by many. Some of them owned businesses prior to the earthquake of 2010. They have nothing now besides each other. They live in tent camps and have hard lives. Some have been gang raped. Their stories are heart wrenching. We feel strongly that we were brought here to help them improve the quality of their lives – both for them and for their children.
I’m asking our local soapmaking community to support these women by donating at our fundraising site at http://www.indiegogo.com/BeautyInHaiti through January 31, 2013. As little as $10 can make a difference!
We couldn’t be more proud of these two amazing soapmakers. Let’s make sure they can continue this project. Here’s what you can do to help:
- Visit the fundraising site (pssst…you can still get your hands on one of the first OFEDA soaps, but they are moving fast!)
- Spread the word (twitter, facebook, even good ole’ word of mouth!)