Own Your (Refugee Led) Business Story: Refugee Bath Co.
Our “Own Your Story” series continues!
Beginning September 1st, Sitti is featuring nine incredible refugee-focused brands through our on-going blog series. (You can find previous articles in this series, including nine amazing Women-Owned Business stories, here!) The “Own Your Story” series elevates the stories of partner brands featured in the Sitti Subscription Box.
Each quarter, we get to know the brands in our box, while gleaning priceless lessons and advice from their shared experiences. We talk about where the idea for their brand came from, and what’s made their journey unique. Our second box is all about refugee-led brands, as well as those making a direct impact within the refugee community. To learn more about our Surprise Subscription Box, click here.
We are delighted to introduce to you Refugee Bath Company, another inspirational brand found in our new subscription box. Launched in 2019 and based in Washington State, USA, this relatively new brand is guided by a simple purpose – to support refugees. Having employed seven refugees/immigrants who have spent years living in refugee camps, the founders knew there was a great opportunity to change lives for the better. Arriving in a foreign country, newcomers are often faced with systematic barriers to gaining employment, however, Refugee Bath Co. was eager to lend a helping hand. Hiring refugees has not only helped them assimilate into the community but has provided financial independence and support for their families.
Refugee Bath Co. is the creator of specialty bath bombs. Relax, unwind and enjoy the invigorating effects of their unique selection of bath bombs now available in over 13 tantalizing scents. These colorful spheres are handcrafted, vegan, cruelty-free, and made only with the highest quality of ingredients. Treat yourself to the moisturizing effects of organic cocoa butter, eucalyptus and lavender, and take in the aromatic scents of lemongrass, sandalwood, and spicy mahogany to recreate a spa-like experience straight from the comfort of your home.
Another wonderful fact about Refugee Bath Co. is its eco-friendly initiatives. With products hand-wrapped using only compostable cellulose sheets and rice paper bags, this brand goes a long way in making a difference in the lives of refugees and for our planet.
We spoke to the founder of Refugee Bath Co. to learn about the challenges and rewards of employing refugees, and how taking a chance was the best decision they ever made.
What is your brand's purpose/mission?
The mission of Refugee Bath Co. is to provide opportunities for former refugees in our community to earn a living creating the highest quality bath products. We believe that former refugees are a benefit to the American economy. A portion of our profits supports refugee assistance.
What makes your brand unique?
Consumers appreciate our refugee workforce, a high-quality product that is individually handcrafted, and eco-friendly packaging
When did this organization start? How was this organization started?
The idea of RBC was conceived in the fall of 2018. We partnered with a company in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho, called Mountain Madness Soap Co. so we could learn the bath bomb-making process. We already employed former refugees in our company in other capacities and so we were excited to have them be part of this project. We launched in spring 2019.
Tell us a story in your own words that speaks the truth about the experience of being a refugee-focused or refugee-owned business?
Running a business with refugee employees is a continual journey of self-discovery and challenges. Learning and appreciating the differences in cultures and backgrounds has been very fulfilling. As a business owner, it makes you not take things for granted and heightens your compassion for others after what they have endured. You want to help them and assist them. Managing and training employees with limited English abilities was an initial challenge that needed a lot of creativity and color coding! During COVID, a big challenge was transportation: After the lockdown, we had to weigh up whether we expected our employee to take the bus (3 different buses) to and from work or whether we would help her out. We ended up doing the latter -- for 7-months. This was a commitment for us as business owners but we felt it was a safer bet for not spreading COVID. These months were probably the biggest challenges for us.
In 2-3 sentences explain how your company impacts the refugee community?
Our company as a whole currently employs 7 refugees/immigrants and 4 non-refugees, plus myself and my husband. One refugee employee has worked himself to an assistant warehouse manager and we have been able to employ his wife as well. They have 5 kids and so we feel happy to be able to provide for their family. Our give-backs from our profits of Refugee Bath Co. have included $2000 + towards one of our employee's flights debt from entering the USA and some profit sharing with our refugee/immigrant employees ($4000)
What is a recent exciting success?
By giving back to our employees with our profit-sharing program from the sales of the RBC products, we felt that it created a full circle in achieving what the brand set out to do. Many employees still have family in their home countries and send money home. By giving each employee essentially an extra bonus, he/she could have that extra cushion for spending how they wished.
What inspired the brand?
We wanted to make a statement. We wanted to create awareness of the refugee community. We already employed refugees and knew that they were such great, hardworking employees. We wanted to share and promote this
What other refugee-focused brands do you admire?
Refuge Coffee Company also organizes community-building events. RefuTea: women-owned, gives back. Refugee Artisan Initiative helps women in their transition into the USA by providing skills training.
What is the best advice you have for someone who is trying to start their own business? Or what is one piece of advice that YOU were given and that still holds true today?
Believe you can do it. Expect there to be obstacles. Don't worry about mistakes: This is how you learn.
Write down anything else you would like us to mention about your brand!
We are proud of our brand and our employees. They are like a family and they are comfortable asking for our help when they need it. It makes us feel good as an employer since we feel we are approachable. Refugees are grateful for the smallest of things.
**DON’T LEAVE WITHOUT YOUR DISCOUNT!**
Visit their website to get a great deal using discount code “SITTI-RBC2021” at check out!
Thank you Refugee Bath Co., for sharing your story!
To show your support for Refugee Bath, follow them on Instagram or refugeebathcompany.com
The Sitti Box is a quarterly box packed with value and impact, delivered directly to your door. Each quarterly box highlights the stories and impact of the products inside.
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