Master Soap Artisan
Martha was born in Cristo Rey, a crowded neighborhood in the main district of Santo Domingo. She lives with her husband Enrique and two of her kids, José and Crystal. She came to Las Malvinas looking for her own space and settled in the lower part of the community where the Esperanza Factory was located.
Martha has always been extremely poor – she had her first child in her teen years and never completed high school. For some years she worked at a clothes factory but had to stop after some years to keep a closer eye on her kids, who were growing up in a slum with all the challenges that presents. Martha lost a son in 2010 that drowned in the river in front of Las Malvinas, chasing a kite. She then (2012) was in a horrible vehicle accident where she lost her youngest daughter of 18 months and her hip was shattered. She no longer can walk the long distances she used to.
But Martha doesn’t lose hope. She wants her kids Jose and Crystal to get ahead and go to college. She wants to finish her house with solid walls and a full bathroom. When Esperanza Soaps presented itself in the neighborhood to do soapmaking workshops, Martha offered her house and hosted them, avidly seeking to learn how to make soap. She quickly became a part of the Esperanza team. She says “Making soap is not just a job; it also helps me clear my head and it gives me a sense of accomplishment.”
It’s for people like Martha that Esperanza, which means “hope” in Spanish, was started. To bring good jobs and hope to women who want a bright future for themselves, their children and their community.
Joceline, or “Jocy” grew up in a slum north of Las Malvinas and moved to the community with her husband in 2007 at age 17. She has now 4 kids and before Esperanza came around, she had never had the chance to work or finish high school.
She jumped on the opportunity to learn to make soap and quickly became a star soapmaker. She’s taken on more and more responsibility at the factory, coming up with new recipes and making sure soaps are made with great care and efficiency. Since joining the company, Jocy has finally finished her brick house (that was 10 years in the making!) and moved in with her family. In 2018, taking weekend classes, she completed high school and in 2019 enrolled in nursing school, which she attends every day. We’ve adjusted her working hours making sure she can continue to work with us while pursuing a dream she’s had for a decade: to become a professional in the medical field. We’re so proud and grateful she’s on on team! Esperanza has been with her at every step in her development in the past 3 years, and we’re thrilled to support her as she invests in herself and her family to achieve a better quality of life.
Angela is a junior soapmaker and is in charge of the factory - making sure it’s stocked, clean and always ready to roll. She comes from Yamasá, a rural area north of the capital, and came to Santo Domingo with her mother to settle in Las Malvinas. She’s completed high school and is deciding if college is the next best step for her.
Sales for Esperanza is not an easy job, we need people that feel just as comfortable selling our products in the city, in presentations and pitches, as well as in the community, where our artisans live and work and where the poverty on display can be tough to cope with. Virginia is just the person for this job - having grown up in Las Malvinas she feels at home with the families, but she is also worked in big companies and is currently getting a college degree that connects her daily with the city. She joined our team in 2018 and manages all our client relations. She is married and has a small son, Juan, and 2 years ago stopped going to college to care for her small baby. Upon joining Esperanza, we’ve included a full scholarship and time off in the week as part of her involvement with us so she can study and work with us.
Kevin is the founder of Esperanza Soaps. He’s been active in the community of Las Malvinas for over 10 years, working with the families on several development projects. Orginally from Chile, Kevin lives with his wife Amanda and son Trevor in Western Massachusetts where he runs Esperanza Soaps in the US and the DR. He dreams of growing Esperanza and starting other ventures to provide meaningful employment to those that need it most!