'Green' soap offers women second chance

"We have great products and it's all done by hand," said Chaquita Reed, The Enterprising Kitchen.

"You can see our product. It kind of comes from love. Like it begins in the kitchen and we just put all our love in it and then it becomes perfect," said Arzu Eran, The Enterprising Kitchen.

Located on the city's Northwest Side, The Enterprising Kitchen is part of a non-profit, job training program for women who have faced difficulties ranging from domestic violence to incarceration.

"The women come to us through referrals from various partner organizations. They're referred by their social worker or their case manager," said Lynne Cunningham, executive director, The Enterprising Kitchen.

The product is soap, shower gels, bath salts and other sp products sold online and in spas across the country. All the merchandise is made by hand from natural ingredients.

"The natural ingredients that we use are things like olive oil, jojoba oil, palm kernel oil, Shea butter, a natural plant-based glycerin," said Cunningham.

The women take pride on minimizing waste by using only as much packaging as necessary. They also re-use soaps when the size or shape doesn't cut the muster.

"We will re-melt it down and re-use it," said Reed, "or we will chop it up in chunks so it will go back in to the glycerin soap and make like seascape and citrus blossom."

Even the misshaped castoffs go into popular sellers- like soap on a rope. Organizers say the product line is not only good for the earth, but also the women who make it.

"They actually cook the soap, so they can leave here at the end of the day saying here is a product that I made. I signed the label when I put the label on. It has a piece of me in it and it's a good quality product," said Cunningham.

To save energy, The Enterprising Kitchen only turns on the air-conditioner when the soap begins to melt on the production floor. The group is trying to raise money to buy tinted film for the windows to help keep the inside cooler.

For more information on The Enterprising Kitchen and the products, visit TheEnterprisingKitchen.org

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