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Soap venture goal: Protecting nature and giving back

When Laiden Pedriña quit her job in a nongovernment organization (NGO) in 2010, she set her sights on two things: find a way to help out-of-school-youths finish their education and start a business in the service of God.

Laiden knew that enlightening the youths on the importance of education does not only need words, but also action, and on this she already had an idea on what she can do to help. It’s the how that she had to ponder on. And this was where her interest in skin care came into the picture.

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Even when she was young, Laiden knew that it’s important to take care of one’s skin. Not for vanity, but as a simple hygienic practice.

“I am not into makeup, but I know that it’s important to put sun block under the eyes, and take good care of our skin,” Laiden says.

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As passionate as she was on skin care, she was aware that some products have chemical ingredients that could be harmful not only to the body but also to nature. Laiden wanted to promote the use of organic and natural skin care products because she believes that this is a way to protect Mother Nature and to give back for all the blessings from God.

Handmade soaps

For Christmas and other special occasions, Laiden used to make handmade soaps as a gift to family members and friends. But for her, the soaps were just “seasonal things,” made for special occasions, and not to make a business out of them. Each soap was made carefully and lovingly, that it would be impossible for a college student like her to devote that much time and effort if she starts making and selling them.

Upon graduating cum laude from UP in 2001, she did development work for environmental campaigns and programs by local and international NGOs.

While working there, she was exposed to several environmental issues and how these take the backseat when poverty is the more pressing matter.

“We cannot discuss to them (the poor) to conserve energy, when they are actually consuming less because they are poor,” she shares.

Faced with these realities, Laiden decided to give up her job and start a business where she can provide jobs for people, especially the youth, and at the same time address the importance of using natural products.

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Backed by her skills in making handmade soap, she trained with chemists, formulators and pharmacists here and abroad to come up with safe, nature-friendly products.

7 Wonders of the World ingredients

Laiden’s aunt, Miriam, would recommend raw materials to her whenever Miriam goes abroad, and through this, they eventually established contacts and suppliers from different countries.

In her desire to come up with the best organic soaps, she and her chemists try different ingredients from different countries until they come up with the best formula.

In Jeju Island, Korea, Laiden found suppliers for acerola fruit extract, a rich source of vitamin C and clinically proven ingredient that inhibits elastase activity, which causes wrinkles. Laiden and her chemist used this extract for their Spot Lightening Banana Soap.

They also sourced mulberry extract from the island. This extract has also been clinically proven effective in inhibiting the tyrosinase activity on the skin, which is responsible for melanin production that darkens skin. The mulberry extract is used as an ingredient for the Skin Lightening Papaya Soap.

Euterpe oleracea pulp oil, which can be sourced from the rainforest of Amazon, is the main ingredient for the Acne-Cleansing Tomato Soap.

And although for now Laiden uses organically grown products from her hometown in San Pedro, Laguna, she is also interested in sourcing materials from Palawan.

“It was just a coincidence that most of the ingredients that passed our tests are from some of the 7 Wonders of the World. But it could also be because the 7 Wonders also have the best raw materials—best crops, very rustic, all natural,” she says.

14 products down to 3

With her aunt Miriam as initial business partner, they pooled in around P500,000 to start their organic soap business. The capital was mostly used to fund the Research and Development (R&D) of the products.

In 2010, they started joining bazaars to sell the soaps under the name Mir & Ryvi Home of Organics Company. Mir and ryvi means “peace and river”, from the gospel song “I’ve got Peace like a River.”

“I wanted to veer away from the word ‘nature’ because everybody else is already using it, Nature Something and so on. I want a name that will stick to people’s mind,” Laiden explains.

Later on, Laiden’s fiancé, Mark, and her brother Junjun joined in the company as partners, but she remains as the head.

Laiden and her team of specialists continue on improving their soaps, doing an elimination process to find out which of the 14 initial products they introduced to the market give excellent results and positive feedbacks from customers.

From the 14 soaps introduced in 2010, they are now down to three—the Tomato Soap, the Banana Soap and the Papaya Soap. They saw that these are the bestsellers and are proven to be most effective in skin care needs.

Helping the youth

With her other goal still in mind, Laiden converted a cousin’s house into a manufacturing plant in San Pedro, Laguna, and employed out-of-school youths. These youths are given an opportunity to finish their education with the help of Mir and Ryvi’s financial assistance.

“They have to earn the scholarship by showing good work ethics, and of course, the desire to finish their schooling,” she says.

The company provides continuous training and programs for its employees. Laiden is aware that some youth are contented with just having a steady job, but she also wants to enlighten them on the advantages of having a degree and choosing their own path of development.

Striving for excellence

After the initial mistakes of unnecessary expenses and being too lenient to their employees, Laiden and her business partners are determined to maintain a strict but healthy working environment, while at the same time produce world-class organic soaps.

“We want people to buy our products not because we are sending our employees to school. We want them to buy it because it works,” Laiden says.

After the bazaars, Mir and Ryvi soaps are now available in Beauty Bar. They also have plans of selling their soaps in the international market.

“We want to be known as distributor of excellent organic products. This will be good for the country. When they think of the Philippines, they will think of good natural products, which will be good for everybody. Let’s not pull each other down. Just be proud of Filipino entrepreneurs,” she says.

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TAGS: Education, job, nongovernment organization (NGO)
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