The reject box was meant for every misplaced label, every slightly imperfect mold, every product that didn’t meet the three owners’ expectations for quality.
“I wouldn’t say perfection, but — actually, I would,” said A. Mahdi, owner and director of sales at Soapy Soap.
Soapy Soap Company, a local soap-manufacturing business, has had high expectations for its products since its beginning in April 2012.
A. Mahdi said the owners are always hands-on in their approach to the business.
He said they market themselves as three guys making soap, but they take charge of many elements of the business including crafting their own displays, formatting their own website and designing each product’s label.
“It takes a little while,” A. Mahdi said. “But every detail counts.”
Mohammed M. Mahdi, owner and director of operations, said Soapy Soap sets itself apart by honing the details of their craft.
Each Soapy Soap product is made from all-natural, vegan, non-genetically modified, gluten-free and cruelty-free ingredients.
“We meticulously go through all of the ingredients, all of the suppliers that we use for our ingredients,” M. Mahdi said. “All of the ingredients that we get in follow the same quality that we market.”
Being a local business, M. Mahdi said they maintain their high quality because Bloomington is a town that values where businesses get their ingredients.
“We really appreciate the support we get from Bloomington,” he said. “We value our community, and I feel like our community values us.”
The idea for the company first developed when A. Mahdi, owner and Director of Marketing Anthony Duncan and M. Mahdi were living together, making soaps in their kitchen rather than buying their own.
“We saw that we had about 100 years of soap for each of us,” Duncan said. “So we were like, ‘Oh, let’s see if we can make a business out of this.’”
Eventually, they outgrew the kitchen.
“It came to a point where we just had buckets of oils all over the kitchen, where we no longer had a kitchen — we had a soap production area,” M. Mahdi said. “We needed to move out of the kitchen and move into a location that has more space.”
They moved into their current warehouse space located at 300 W. Hillside Dr. shortly after and have expanded their space about four times since, Duncan said.
“The more demand, then the more we make, the more space we need,” he said.
Their current warehouse space has grown to about 1,800 square feet.
The walls are colored with orange in the production space, yellow in the packaging space and a neon green stripe is painted through the office and distribution center.
Caricatures of the three owners are displayed on the production room’s walls.
A. Mahdi said the three originally rented raw warehouse space and did the work without assistance, reinforcing the do-it-themselves aspect of the business.
“In that warehouse we actually did everything,” he said. “We put up walls.”
But the walls won’t be theirs for long.
The three owners were recently informed that their lease would not be renewed. They have 30 days to move out of the space.
“Ultimately, we’re trying to figure out what do we do and how do we do it in 30 days,” M. Mahdi said. “We’ve never had to move. We moved from our kitchen, and we’ve never left that warehouse.”
Duncan said the company has received support from the local community in their search for a new space.
Their contacts at the Bloomington Economic Development Corporation and the Ivy Tech Cook Center for Entrepreneurship have assisted in their search, he said.
“Hopefully everything will end up well, because it has been,” M. Mahdi said. “We’ve found ways to make it work ... It’s very important that we all stay positive about it. Stay positive and good things happen.”
Ultimately, the two IU graduates and current IU student would like to keep their business in Bloomington and eventually own their own production space to expand as the business grows.
“This community is where we started,” A. Mahdi said.
Although the current warehouse space was their first and slightly sentimental, A. Mahdi said the company is ready to grow.
“It was our first ever space, so I think we’re all going to miss it a little bit, but there’s always room for improvement,” he said. “The sky’s the limit.”