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March 13, 2014 - Image 43

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2014-03-13

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Does Your Dream
Business Need
A 'Jump Start'?


Erin Zaikis

Soap company fights disease
in poor countries around the world.

Esther Allweiss Ingber
I Contributing Writer


ne bar of soap at a time is how

a young woman with family
ties to Michigan is improving
hygiene and fighting disease in several
impoverished nations.
Entrepreneur Erin Zaikis started an
artisanal soap company, Sundara, and
donates a portion of its profits to help
people and projects overseas. Because, as
her motto states: "Doing good is beauti-
Zaikis, 24, grew up in Marblehead,
Mass., home state of her father Andrew
Zaikis. Her maternal side is from here.
Her mother Carol Aiken, who kept her
maiden name, hails from Huntington
Woods, and Erin and her older sister
Leslie Zaikis enjoyed summers visiting
now-deceased grandparents Hope and
Max Aiken in Bloomfield Hills.
A 2010 University of Michigan gradu-
ate, Zaikis majored in public policy with
a specialty in Middle East foreign policy.
She's visited Israel three times.
Zaikis, who became a bat mitzvah,
said her parents "set an example of giv-
ing back and taught me that, as a Jew,
service to the community is especially
important:' However, "without a doubt,
the most influential person" was her
maternal grandmother Hope, a vol-
unteer with Friendship Circle in West
Life changed for Zaikis last summer
when she quit a real estate job in favor of
volunteering in Thailand.
Her service work for Thai organiza-
tions that fight child trafficking took her
to schools in rural northern Thailand.
"I met students who had no idea what
soap was:' Zaikis said. She met teach-
ers who had lost multiple children to
preventable ailments — such as diar-
rhea, pneumonia and respiratory illness
— because they "had no concept of the
importance of hand washing:'
Wanting to help, Zaikis walked several
miles to the nearest shop and paid $30

U.S. for 150 bars of soap. She taught why
and how everyone should wash their
Zaikis felt fulfilled in Thailand before
contracting dengue fever, a mosquito-
borne infection. She was hospitalized in
Recovered two months later, Zaikis
acted on her idea to start a soap com-
pany in her New York City apartment.
Her plan was to give a dollar from each
bar of soap to fund hygiene projects for
children living in Thailand, India and
Zaikis learned to make soap from
recipes. After trial and error, she's hand-
crafting high-quality bar soaps, free of
paraben, sulfates and detergents.
The website for Sundara (www.
livesundara.com ) tells how to order
three flower-shaped soaps, currently
$7.99. Each fragrance was inspired by a
different country, which benefits from
the soap sales.
For example, sales of Zaikis' favorite
soap, Chai Tea, assist Gabriel Project in
Mumbai, India. Hygiene workshops are
conducted for children living in the city's
slums. The Unlock Foundation receives
donations from Sundara's Ghanaian-
inspired Lavender & Shea Butter. The
organization is constructing a sink and
well for a school and supplying soap in
southern Ghana.
Sundara has a new partnership with
Carice, a small mountainous town in
Haiti. Sales of Lemongrass & Pomelo
soap and organizational fundraisers dur-
ing March will sponsor bio-sand water
filters in schools and hospitals.
As her Sundara brand grows, Zaikis
seeks a warehouse/work space. She's
pleased her company provides a useful,
environmentally friendly product that
benefits charitable projects and poten-
tially will employ resettled refugees.
"I want every part of the business to
be ethical; she said. "Conscious consum-
ers can feel good about buying Sundara
— knowing that with these products, so
many people are being helped:'

ebrew Free Loan (HFL)
and its Marvin I. Danto
Small Business Loan
Program will host local entre-
preneurs and those interested in
learning how to become entrepre-
neurs at Jump Start, a networking
and funding event scheduled for
9 a.m. Sunday, April 13, in the
Gallery of the Technology and
Learning Center at Lawrence
Technological University in
The event will feature a session
called Pitch, Hit and Run, where
a panel of judges with business
expertise will rate the pitch pre-
sentations of Detroit-area small
businesses and small business
hopefuls who will vie for up to
$100,000 in interest-free loans to
boost their ideas.
Current business owners look-
ing to expand, as well as those
who want to launch their dream
company from scratch can apply
at www.hfldetroit.org/jumpstart
to participate in the pitch session.
Businesses must be 51 percent
Jewish-owned and located in
Applications will be vetted by
Hebrew Free Loan's Danto Small
Business team; those who qualify
may come before the judges with
a seven-minute descriptive pre-
sentation. The judges will rate the
value of each presentation and
select winners whose ideas will be
funded. Judges are Michael Banks,
executive banker and HFL board
member; Marla Drutz, WDIV-TV;
David Farbman, Nuco Health;
Robert Jacobs, Buddy's Pizza; and
Marla Tapper Young, Tapper's
After the pitch session, key-
note speaker Hannan Lis will
address the group on the benefits
of Michigan as a good location
for a fledgling business. Lis is a
principal at WW Group Inc., Lis
Ventures LLC and Estrakon Inc.,
and is a promoter of the sound
economic future of both Michigan
and Israel.
Networking and informational
opportunities will round out the
day. The public is invited to attend
Jump Start for $36 per person.
Reservations may be made online at
www.hfldetroit.org/jumpstart .



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Computer skills and five
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No phone calls please




March 13 • 2014


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