Dear Friends & Wonderful Customers,
This is Benjamin, writing to you to say how grateful we all are for your business, whether it was your first time in the website or the 20th. As a small family business, I dare say you will never truly know the incredible impact of your purchases. This is how I put food on my table. We’ve been doing this for 7 years now, and we’ve come a long way as a family, as a business and as a family business.
As many of you know, I also am the Co-Director of a 501(c) 3 Not-For-Profit Organization, called the Lovin’ Soap Project. My partner Amanda and I travel to developing nations to teach the artisan craft of soapmaking to women’s groups. We have been recurrently visiting Haiti every 2 months to check on the groups we teach there. We traveled to Uganda earlier this summer, to a village called Nakivumbi, which means “The Place of Sickness & Starvation.” Of the women we taught, some had been bride-priced off as early as 14 years of age to older men. They have been used as baby producers and not much more. They struggle to survive, growing and selling potatoes and cabbage and taking care of many children. Our mission at the Lovin’ Soap Project is to empower women such as these through teaching a valuable trade, thus providing not only hygiene, but also economic development for themselves, their children and their community. I’m proud of what we have accomplished so far, but so much more needs to be done to make a difference. It is hard enough to start a successful small business here, making what you sell. It (almost) seems insurmountable in impoverished, disenfranchised regions that we have had the benefit of traveling to. It has been quite eye opening.
Alas, the reason I write to you is that through months of struggle and contemplation, we have decided to close the doors to our business, Prairie Soap Company, effective January 31st 2015. We cannot effectively and sustainably run this for-profit business while I am traveling throughout the year and teaching. Amanda and I will be in Eastern Tibet, India, Uganda and Haiti next year, among other nations, and it will require very long periods of time out of the country. We are making the conscience and ethical decision to run full speed ahead with the Lovin’ Soap Project, knowing that through our faith and passion for the project we will be sufficiently compensated and taken care of. This is a calling that cannot be ignored any longer, and we don’t have the horses to run our storefront if I am gone for more than half the year.
As hard as this has been, I thank you for reading, purchasing, visiting and talking with us over the years here. I am so proud of our local community for giving us a chance and caring about their purchases, and where they come from. I have a connection to my community that I will never forget. I am sad, but also excited about my future in doing what I know I am supposed to do in life.
With all of this being said, if you would like to help us, you can visit www.lovinsoapproject.org and donate. Even as little as $10 makes a huge difference when we have our community involved together. The Lovin’ Soap Project is in its infant stages, and I’m not the least bit ashamed of asking for financial help from our wonderful community here. Your donation will go towards travel via airline, in-country travel, in-country supplies and materials, marketplace research, consulting fees, guides, translators, travel visas and insurance and angel investments (among other things). We are making a real difference in the lives of women, but we cannot do it without help.
Thank you for reading this. Thank you for your support. Keep being wonderful.