we know that our Chicago-based soap factory is one of a kind. but sometimes you need to hear it straight from the people who work there. meet our Environmental, Health + Safety Associate, Austin (left) and our Director of Production Services, Matt (right). they take our “keep it weird” value very seriously.
what do you do at the South Side Soapbox (SSSB)?
Austin: i basically make sure we don’t get in trouble with the EPA/OSHA and no one loses an arm or blows up the building.
Matt: i’m the guy who takes all of our formulas and packaging from the lab bench/line trial all the way to full production at the Soapbox and at our co-manufacturers. i’m also heavily involved in keeping the SSSB as weird as humanly possible without being asked to leave the building.
what do you like about working for method? we like to keep things positive.
Austin: it feels amazing to work for a company that stands behind its beliefs and incorporates all of it into the day-to-day operations. i once worked in a very large, fully-integrated steel mill… aside from the physical differences of new-ness, lighting, housekeeping, etc., the biggest difference [between a traditional manufacturing environment and the SSSB] is culture. i’ve seen toxic work environments full of bitter employees and it’s truly amazing that we have such a strong culture from the top-down and vice versa.
Matt: i love to work hard, but enjoy having as much fun as possible while doing it…and it’s actually encouraged here. it’s much different than companies that are trying so very hard to be cool, and failing miserably. it’s incredibly refreshing.
what do you think is the most special thing about the SSSB?
Austin: our employees, hands down. we have a hodgepodge of individuals and it works so well. most companies say, “we are a family,” but here it’s palpable.
Matt: we’ve not only built an amazing LEED Platinum factory from the ground up, but we’ve staffed it with a majority of local employees that had little to no manufacturing experience. when i think about all that we’ve accomplished in barely 18 months… it’s staggering.
what is the factory fact that surprises people the most?
Austin: i lead tours every so often and a good amount of questions relate to the SSSB’s sustainable energy.
Matt: i think the fact that we have a massive wind turbine on site that produces roughly 30% of the factory’s energy is a big hit.
of all the products made at the SSSB, which is your favorite—and why?
Austin: all french lavender products. i love the fragrance.. you can get a little sick of some fragrances when you run them [down the line] for what seems like two months straight.
Matt: i’m really digging the Rebecca Atwood Limited Editions, from a design and a fragrance perspective. i’d have to say that the sea spray and blue sage gel hand washes are my favorites. they’re super clean scents, they look amazing at home, and standing over 5400 gallons of fresh soap and taking a deep breath is always kinda awesome.
what’s the weirdest thing you’ve ever done at work?
Austin: beating all participants in a “bottle cap twerk event” for the Packaging Olympics. i didn’t just beat everyone, i destroyed them.
Matt: this is a dangerous one, so i’m going to go with that time we had a massive bouncy house in the plant for a holiday party, and i got to race through the obstacle course in my socks with a bunch of crazy people that I work with. and yes, THEY are the crazy ones.