Former teacher changing lives one bar of soap at a time

Former teacher changing lives one bar of soap at a time

SOLON, OH (WOIO) - Ida Friedman-Kasdan was a middle school science teacher looking for a hobby when she stumbled upon some soap makers at a local craft show.

"I'm thinking I can do this," explains Ida.

She created her first batch in her own kitchen and had her husband, who suffered from eczema, try it out.

"Two weeks later, all the eczema was gone and you're like, ok, I think I have something here."

Now, 15 years later, her home test kitchen has transformed into Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve. We got a tour of the factory and a behind-the-scenes look at how the products are made.

Chagrin Valley now ships products around the globe. You should hear how far away they're customer base spans!

"We've managed to quadruple without a bit of marketing."

The company doesn't advertise. They have no marketing department, not even a store front. The orders are all internet based.  Ida says if it's a great product, it will sell. They rely on loyal customers and word of mouth.

"We got emails, if you read them, you'd have tears in your eyes." adds Ida's son Sam Friedman.

One particular email about a teenage girl who suffered from psoriasis was especially touching.

"You're talking about completely changing someone's life," says Sam.

Despite the company's success, the operation has remained small and family-run. Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve has just nine employees. They're all related or connected in some way.

"Those nine people are my mother, my wife, friends of mine for twenty years, so there's a lot of baggage that comes with that," says Sam.

What works, they say, is that they all have a passion for what they do and they're all working for the same goal.

Hear more about Ida's success story and Chagrin Valley Soap and Salve, coming up Wednesday on Cleveland 19 News at 6.

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