Andrew Vrbas is the Co-founder and CEO of Pacha Soap Co., a conscious capital company producing handcrafted, artisanal products that enhance well-being and captivate the senses. Andrew was inspired to start a purpose-driven organization when multimillion-dollar companies began donating proceeds of their profits to underdeveloped countries. Pacha Soap Co. headquarters is in Hastings, Nebraska, with more than 40 employees. The company distributes products in South America and East Africa.
Here’s a glimpse of what you’ll learn:
- What inspired Andrew Vrbas to create Pacha Soap Co.?
- Andrew explains what a social business is
- How Pacha Soap Co. grew from a small soap shop in Peru into a retail store in Africa
- Andrew shares how he partnered with Whole Foods and other retail stores
- What to expect from Pacha Soap Co. in the next two years
- What is conscious capitalism and how does it work?
In this episode…
Most mornings start with a hot shower. The routine is a privilege some Americans may take for granted. The fact is, many people outside the US are unable to start their days with a bath or shower because they don’t have access to clean running water and hygiene products due to poverty.
The lack of clean water and soap is what business leader Andrew Vrbas noticed during his visits to Peru as a kid and as a student studying abroad. It broke Andrew’s heart to witness that kind of poverty and sought a way to be part of the solution. So he set out to open a soap shop in the small Peruvian town that had become so near and dear to his heart.
In this episode of the CPG Troublemakers, join host Steve Gaither, as he chats with the Co-founder and CEO of Pacha Soap Co., Andrew Vrbas. Andrew discusses ethical capitalism, including the inspiration for creating Pacha Soap Co., how the brand grew from a small soap shop into an international consumer good, the future of Pacha Soap Co., and more.
Resources Mentioned in this episode
- Steve Gaither on LinkedIn
- Andrew Vrbas on LinkedIn
- Pacha Soap Co.
- John Mackey on LinkedIn
- Conscious Capitalism, With a New Preface by the Authors: Liberating the Heroic Spirit of Business by John Mackey and Rajendra Sisodia
Sponsor for this episode…
This episode is brought to you by 1o8 Agency. At 1o8 Agency, we are a holistic digital marketing agency that cultivates brand growth through creativity and innovation. We jump right in to create solutions with measurable marketing intelligence.
The result? Our clients see increased engagement and increased e-commerce traffic, which equals more sales and profitability for our clients.
Welcome to the CPG. troublemakers. The place where brands and makers food and beverage nerds and investors all gather to cause a little bit of mischief. We welcome industry leaders, whitespace thinkers and channel partners to come together to turn problems into opportunities. Or, at the very least, have a little fun along the way.
Steve Gaither 0:20
Hello, I’m Steve Gaither, and welcome to the CPG Troublemakers where food and beverage brands and pastors and service providers get together and cause well, a little bit of trouble. Here’s my shameless plug. I’m the EVP of growth and strategy for 1o8. Creative means commerce agency that focuses on brand strategy, package design, as well as DTC and Amazon Marketing for the CPG industry. And we can be found on the interwebs at 108cpg.com. I have the pleasure of hanging out with Andrew Vrbas, the Founder of Pacha Soap, a conscious capital organization that all came about when he was with an NGO in Peru trying to teach folks about hygiene. He quickly realized that the real issue wasn’t they didn’t know how to use soap, but it was the lack of a living wage that was the barrier. So he set out to solve that along the way created a brilliant company. Andrew, welcome aboard my friend.
Andrew Vrbas 1:15
Thanks, Steve. It’s good to get be on this been known you for a long time. It’s great to be on your podcast.
Steve Gaither 1:21
Oh, yeah. We’ve spent some time along the years hanging out in Hastings and food shows and whatnot. Hey, you’re path is not typical. Most founders you sort of meet. We just sort of hit me with that backstory.
Andrew Vrbas 1:39
Yeah, sure. And yeah, my mind is not a status, typical path I I had this idea for Pacha while I was living in Peru. And that was my second time I was in Peru. But my path really goes back to my mom’s path and 1965 My mom was in Lima, Peru, she visited my great aunt, her aunt in Chi, Yao, Peru. And that’s where she formed a relationship with a family and family that I knew growing up and I turned 18. And my mom said, You should go to Peru, it changed my life, and I was a young kid, you should go. And so I went down. And it was a wonderful experience. I loved it. I love the people. I love the culture. And I wanted to go back. So I went to a private liberal arts college here in Nebraska, and that’s where I can kind of design my own program. And I didn’t want to be in a classroom setting. So I said, Well, what if I volunteered. And so I got Spanish credit to volunteer for a couple of different organizations in Peru. So I went back. And that was really an eye opening experience, because I wasn’t going just purely as someone who was just traveling, I was going to live and work and try to understand what what another culture was like, which was, was a great experience for me as a 19 year old turned 20 While I was there. And while I was there, you know, you see issues in the developing world that you don’t normally see in the United States. And one of them was, you know, lack of access to clean water, for instance, or sanitation and hygiene, lack of availability in the school that I was teaching, teaching at sea, see those things. And then, you know, I was reading a couple of novels at the time, pretty lengthy ones. And one of them there was a protagonist that was a an entrepreneur that developed something that really helped society broadly. And that really influenced me, I looked around at all these these issues, but yet also saw the beauty and the what the wonderful, you know, it’s easy to see how it’s easy to see how beautiful things are in Peru, you know, and then but also see some issues that you’re like, Man, why? Why are people poor? Essentially, like, Why? Why are these things happening? And what came to me one time as I was riding a bus was like, I was really inspired, I wanted to do something that would help. This is right around the time that you know, there’s a company called TOMS Shoes that was donating shoes for every shoe that she bought. And in 2010, a lot of these companies were starting up and there was this overall consciousness growing and hey, what if business can do more for people than just sell a shoe? I was naturally a very skeptical person, though, and very cynical, and my family kind of that’s just the way we are and, and I saw the children that I taught if they had a pair of free pair of Toms Shoes, I didn’t know much. But I knew that. Number one, there was a local shoe made that What about the person that makes shoes locally that, you know, puts them out of business? I knew that and then too, I knew that, well, those shoes that they give away are not for every climate, and they for sure weren’t, weren’t for the place that I was working in the mountains where there’s mud and stuff like that, I mean, trap moisture in the feet. So I was skeptical of this, of this, you know, idea that business could be this or like you people just get behind this fad and feel good about themselves. And I came back to the United States with that feeling of just like, I don’t want to be a part of something that is just makes people feel good and the United States doesn’t actually contribute to overall, the overall real good. And so you get down to the root of it. And you see that poverty is the root of why people don’t have clean water or soap for handwashing, or its economic poverty, pure and simple. And, and that comes down to some form of business, some sort of value creation, or it’s subsistence farming. But, you know, it’s nice to have kind of a mix of both so that you have at least a little bit of cash to be able to, you know, buy an anti diarrheal medicine, if you’re, if you’re if your kids sick, you know, or, you know. So that really influenced, I guess, my thinking when I was down there, and I was, I remember riding a bus one time, and I was inspired. Well, what kind of business could I do? Nonetheless, I still wanted to help, I still wanted to do something that would that would contribute in some way. And I thought, what if I started a tea company? That was my first thought, like, what if we could, you know, there’s all these plants around, I could walk, I walked around with my host, grandfather, Julio, every Saturday, and you’d pick a plant, say, hey, smell this. And he told me what it was good for. That’d be cool. Like, what if? What if we could put people to work to have them earn a little bit more money harvesting tea? And then the next thought that came to my mind was, Well, that seems I don’t know much about things. But that seems like there might be some regulations or some barriers with foodstuff. So the next thought I had was, Oh, these things smell amazing. Like, what about soap? What about products like that? Because I knew that the ingredients were available locally. And then from then on, I was just that was the that was it. I was just wanting to, I was wanting to start a soap company that changed the world. And I don’t know exactly
Steve Gaither 6:52
you never did anything with so prior to that.
Andrew Vrbas 6:54
I didn’t know all I knew of soap was that I always love smelling things. And you know, there was a whole foods in Cherry Creek, Denver that my family like we would go to Denver once in a while, because we live pretty close in Kansas. And I always love smelling the soaps at Whole Foods. And so yeah, that thought came to my mind is like, Well, what about like soap and body care products, things like that. And that was it. I went home and told my host family told my real family and a lot of people thought I was a little crazy, which are probably was because I didn’t really have anything fully thought out or understood at that time. But that’s that’s essentially how that’s the origin story. They wanted to and Pacha has a very deep significance means earth. And I wanted to have a company that would be that would honor the ingredients and Honor the Earth that we live in and see natural products, not something is just this fringe thing, but just as the way things should be. And also a way of trying to change, change the perspective of what does it mean to be a social business or ethical BS? Because I think all businesses are social, all businesses are, are ethical. It just depends on you know, what’s your definition, all businesses involve people. And for me, I really saw this, this path of not just giving things but seeing a way for people to earn earn their way and provide value. And I think that’s, that’s a really virtuous system.
Steve Gaither 8:26
So that was the end goal was building a sustainable sub shop and improve for the locals. That’s about
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