Zofia Wolicki is the Chief Operating Officer of Hand in Hand Soap. As COO, Zofia is responsible for keeping the business running as smoothly as possible and is the head of marketing and PR. After working part time with Hand in Hand, she was officially hired as the first employee in 2014! On her off time, you can find her hiking in the woods or biking around the city with her husband and dog, Winston.
Zofia, how did you get involved with Hand in Hand Soap?
I was actually working as a publicist for a small, boutique firm in Philadelphia and we shared an office with another young business, Courtney Apple Photography. I remember the day that Courtney walked in the office with one bar of soap and told me about the business her and her husband, Bill, were starting. I thought it was fabulous! Fast forward a year or so later and I was feeling like I wanted more from my job and to feel connected to children again (I was also once a public school teacher!). I asked Courtney if they needed any help part time. They did, and I met her husband Bill the next week. After a couple of months of doing a variety of jobs and helping Bill out, they offered me a full time position and I was officially the first employee of Hand in Hand. Through the years, my role has changed and I have literally touched every part of this business, from design to manufacturing to shipping to marketing to web design to sales to….you name it, I’ve done it. It’s been incredible to learn so much and continue to learn more every day!
You guys have donated nearly one million bars of soap. Tell us about the communities that receive these donations.
We donate soaps through orphanages to ensure that the soaps go to children who need them and don’t disrupt any local economies in Haiti. Once we work with an orphanage, we make sure they are continuously stocked with soaps, only expanding to new sites once we can guarantee that we can meet the needs of the children in that facility. I love to talk about Bon Samaritan, one of the first orphanages we donated soaps to in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. We have seen this orphanage change in so many ways since our first visit in 2012. They have been able to significantly reduce the number of children who live there, which makes for better living conditions for all. They repainted the building, making it more bright + welcoming. They installed a full kitchen and taught 2 of the older boys how to run it, which they do with pride. And most significantly, they recently installed a system that will allow for water to come through the actual building, which is so exciting to see! While it can be hard to see the same kids each time you visit, knowing that they have not yet found a home, it is also uplifting to see people working so hard to make their orphanages as cozy and home like as they can for the children who live there. We also get to see the kids growing and thriving, which is incredible.
What business advice do you wish you’d known before you joined Hand in Hand Soap?
Ha! Everything and nothing at the same time?! Considering I come from a non-business background, I have definitely learned A LOT on the job! I think the best advice I can give is this: There are always going to be mistakes and failures. These are not what will determine if your business is successful, but how you react to them will. After doing many, many product launches, I can tell you that something always goes wrong. It’s now what we expect to happen. And that’s okay. Because when you expect things to go wrong, you have a better mindset to figure out how to best fix the problem and move forward. Because there are just more problems waiting for you to solve up ahead!
What are your favorite Starfish Project picks for…
I literally only wear earrings! So that’s what I picked from. I don’t even wear my engagement ring, just a simple wedding band and then all. the. earrings!