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David Simnick: “It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit”

Leadership to me is defined by staying rooted in your mission and paving the way for growth for those you have around you. It’s about leaving no doubt and putting in your all to achieve your goals and staying humble through it all. It’s about encouraging and supporting those in your group to grow and […]

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Leadership to me is defined by staying rooted in your mission and paving the way for growth for those you have around you. It’s about leaving no doubt and putting in your all to achieve your goals and staying humble through it all. It’s about encouraging and supporting those in your group to grow and advance, both on an individual level and as a whole, as you collaborate as a team to turn a vision into reality.


Ihad the pleasure of interviewing David Simnick. He made his first batch of soap in his college apartment kitchen while at American University. The idea was hatched after witnessing a need for basic cleanliness to combat illnesses while working as a sub-contractor for the United States Agency for International Development, and Soapbox was founded in 2010.

The purpose-driven company sells its hair and body care products in retailers nationwide and gets soap into the hands of vulnerable populations with its “buy a bar/donate a bar” program. Soapbox also teaches proper hygiene on a global scale through a network of partners.


Thank you for joining us David! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

Something as simple as a bar of soap can truly change someone’s life and it’s such a basic commodity to us that the amazing impact of it is often overlooked. I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit and knew I wanted to start a business, but it was when I was working as a sub-contractor with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) that the idea of Soapbox really started to flourish. While working with the USAID, I saw a need that had to be addressed; making soap available to everyone. But not only soap, hygiene education as well to do the most good. So in 2010, I started Soapbox with my best friend in my college dorm kitchen making the first batch of soap. I then teamed up with Dan Doll while he was completing a business course at American University, where I also graduated from, to formally map-out the business plan for Soapbox.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company or organization?

The most interesting time/story has been how our team has responded to the COVID-19 crisis. Our whole team has stepped up and worked from dawn till midnight pulling out all the stops. There are so many incredible stories of our team being able to pull miracles off.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Our initial designs were AWFUL. We thought that the product would speak for itself but so much of growing as a CPG brand is how your design connects with your consumer.

Can you describe how you or your organization is making a significant social impact?

More than 1.8 million children’s lives could be saved with proper hygiene practice using soap. That’s why Soapbox’s mission is to empower people to change the world through everyday, quality purchases. This is with our donation model that is tied to every Soapbox item that is purchased. For every product purchased, we donate a bar of soap, oftentimes paired with hygiene education, to those in need either state-side or abroad.

The value of a simple bar of soap and proper hygiene education is shocking. Since our inception, our mission has been the core of our business. These donations are made possible with our amazing nonprofit aid partners who, when possible, work within those communities we serve to teach them how to make soap and train them to become hygiene ambassadors to educate their community on the proper practices of handwashing. Sustainability is extremely important to us and we want to do the best possible for those we serve. That’s why we aim to work within these communities when aiding them rather than simply drop off a pallet of soap and put local makers out of business or create a dependency on donations.

We also help support hygiene research being conducted by The Carter Center and F.I. Proctor Foundation at UCSF as they research into how handwashing/ hygiene education and clean sanitation can help decrease the number of trachoma infections which is the world’s leading infectious eye disease that can lead to blindness and is impacting lives in more than 50 countries. We’re absolutely on our “soapbox” for a reason. COVID

Can you tell us a story about a particular individual who was impacted or helped by your cause?

Absolutely! We have a few stories shared with us from our aid partner Sundara about the women they have hired as soap makers and hygiene ambassadors who make our donations with them possible and how joining the Sundara team has impacted their lives. Here are a few of the posts:

Are there three things the community/society/politicians can do to help you address the root of the problem you are trying to solve?

  • Advocating and taking more initiative to make clean water and basic hygiene products/education available to everyone. Not only for those here in the USA (yes, there are still a ton of people here in our own country who have been going without) but also aiding those outside of our country. Clean water and soap should be accessible to everyone. Period.
  • Realizing that helping those in need isn’t limited to donating time or money. So many people want to help but feel like if they can’t give their time or stretch their budgets that they can’t participate in giving back. There are socially conscious businesses out there that make giving back as easy as buying something already on their shopping list. This isn’t just us, but several other brands too. Don’t give up on your desire to help others, there’s always a way.
  • That natural products that are free from nasty chemicals is better for yourself and the world.

How do you define “Leadership”? Can you explain what you mean or give an example?

Leadership to me is defined by staying rooted in your mission and paving the way for growth for those you have around you. It’s about leaving no doubt and putting in your all to achieve your goals and staying humble through it all. It’s about encouraging and supporting those in your group to grow and advance, both on an individual level and as a whole, as you collaborate as a team to turn a vision into reality.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  • Packaging is crucial and not to rush the process. Our brand has gone through quite a few different looks before we landed where we’re at now. The most recent look, we worked with an agency that did small group testing on every aspect before moving forward so we weren’t going through with just what we think works, but what others have tested and suggested.
  • Never lose sight of your victories. Being an entrepreneur, you’re constantly grinding and not every battle is going to be a win. But instead of focusing on the loss, realize the wins you achieved to even get to the point you’re at.
  • Prioritize messaging based on consumer needs. Being a social mission brand, our products serve two purposes: to serve those in need with our donations and also give our consumers an awesome product experience. At first, we thought our mission was what we should lead with, but at the end of the day, consumers are purchasing their hair or personal care based on what that product will provide for them directly. Our mission just happens to be the cherry on top. We believe in our products and create them with amazing ingredients so buyers aren’t compromising quality to be a part of a charity. It’s about communication hierarchy. The more we’re able to sell, the more we’re able to give back.
  • Read more. I love reading, but I always wish I made more time to read more.
  • This is a marathon. It’s not a sprint. You need to take care of yourself so that you can sustain the long journey ahead.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger.

I’d have to stay true to our mission and say making hygiene essentials and education available to everyone. These are basic human necessities that are oftentimes unavailable to all. The reduction in preventable illness and deaths related to them are severely impacted by the availability of these things. These simple assets are not only life-saving but also impact mental and emotional being as well. Offering someone a way to be clean can help restore their dignity and lift them up. It’s truly amazing what a basic bar of soap, education and kindness can really do for a person.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

It is amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who gets the credit. — Harry S. Truman

To me, this quote really summarizes how you should lead. It’s not about the leader, it’s about the team. If you believe in, empower and challenge your people to reach new heights, the team can achieve almost anything.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

Bill Gates.

How he made his money is impressive. How he is spending his money with his wife is truly remarkable. To create something similar and/or to donate to the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is my dream.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Soapbox is @soapboxsoaps on all social platforms and I can be found @davidsimnick

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