How Three Guys Started a Vegan Soap Company
The bubbly alliance began in 2008, when Anthony Duncan, then a sophomore at Indiana University, took a room in recent grad Mohammed M. Mahdi’s condo in Bloomington. While other guys their age were partying, these two got their kicks inventing: dog beds made of old sofa cushioning, incense holders, and eventually soap. “The deeper we dug,” says Duncan, “the more we realized how many artificial ingredients the conventional kinds have.” Multiple marathon soapmaking sessions resulted in a bunch of samples. Their first tester: Mohammed M.’s younger brother, Mohammed A. “I’d always just used store-bought brands,” says Mohammed A. “When I tried theirs, I fell in love.”
From left: Mohammed M., Mohammed A. and Duncan.
Photo: Courtesy of Company
Every bar (almost 59,000 since Soapy Soap launched in April 2012; Mohammed A. relocated from Chicago to join the crew three months later) is made from scratch. And the sudsy studs steer clear of synthetic fragrances, using only essential oils like clove and rosemary. The trio’s latest venture is Design My Soap, a satellite site where users can customize their perfect bar based on skin type, preferred aromas, exfoliants, and label design. Which one gets the guys in a lather? Mohammed M. loves lime and Duncan prefers patchouli. “I like a mix of tea tree, lavender, or anything that smells fresh,” says Mohammed A. “I call them the waker-uppers.”
*Yes, two Mohammeds. Their dad, who’s from Bangalore, India, picked the name to honor the Muslim prophet. Says Mohammed M., “The fact that it was also our grandfather’s name was a plus!”