Eight young men from St Augustine Youth Services are getting to tell their story through an unusual medium: all-natural, handmade, biodegradable soap, with help from Flagler College Enactus; a student organization that focuses on creating community projects to empower people socially, economically and in an environmentally sustainable way.
The idea behind Soapy Tales, the company that produces the soap, was to give these young men a fresh start and help them gain skills necessary to succeed in the real world when they leave foster care at age 18.
“Soapy Tails has been an amazing experience for the boys at St Augustine Youth Services,” Schuyler Siefker, Executive Director of the nonprofit therapeutic group home for abused or neglected children, told Historic City News. “To develop and learn the ins-and-outs of starting a business, while making it sustainable, has been a life changing experience for them.”
Soapy Tales has changed these boys’ lives and given them the opportunity for a bright future, according to Siefker.
“When we first came in to mentor, these boys didn’t have the confidence to talk to strangers, they were shy and reserved and felt uncomfortable around large groups of people,” said Estefania Mones, co-president of Flagler Enactus. “Through this business, they learned about product development, marketing, sales, distribution and budgeting; but, most importantly, they learned leadership, teamwork, accountability, responsibility and communication.”
To date, Soapy Tales has made profits of over $3,500 and their products are sold in 15 stores throughout St Augustine including the Amiro Art Gallery, Rochelle’s, Flagler’s Legacy, Sphere, Red Pineapple, Vintage Clothing Co, St Augustine Tobacco Co and the Flagler College Bookstore. Soaps can also be purchased every first Friday at art walk, with tables set up in front of Metalartz and another at the Starving Artist.
“This project has exceeded all of our expectations and we are completely in awe of the work the Enactus organization has accomplished with our boys,” Siefker told reporters.