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These Innovators' Invention Aims To Save 1.5 Million Kids Through Proper Hand Washing

People

Shubham Issar and Amanat Anand co-founders of SoaPen met during their college years. Now they are both invested in their passion of bringing awareness and teaching kids proper hand washing. Their idea was to create a product that will make it fun for kids to wash their hands while learning about the risk of germs.


While going through the concept of creating SoaPen it introduced them to shocking statistics.

“In developing nations, over 1.5 million children under the age of 5 die due to infectious illnesses that can be prevented by the simple act of washing hands with soap. A lack of awareness and lack of access to soap are some of the barriers that prevent kids from washing hands." Schools are where majority of the diseases are transmitted among children.

While they are now launching a successful business, Issar and Anand faced challenges along the way. They said research and development and finding the right business partners were difficult.

“Recently our focus has shifted to getting the word out of our launch through various marketing channels which has been a challenge due to our small startup budget. We're facing all challenges head on creatively!"

SoaPen changes the way kids wash their hands, making it easily accessible with the placement of soap from the restroom to the classroom. The product consists of a portable alternative to sanitizers. Moms and kids on the go can carry it in their bags and never miss a hand wash.

Photo courtesy of SoaPen.com

The co-founders thought creatively of a new way to incentivize kids to enjoy the hand washing process by allowing them to draw with their product on their hands. Then under water, kids would need to really rub their hands to remove all traces of the drawing- washing their hands for the right amount of time which is 20 to 40 seconds. On the other hand, teachers and parents can now check if the kids actually washed their hands by looking for any left over traces of the drawing.

Their vision was for SoaPen to make a boring and simple task such as handwashing fun, simple and colorful! Issar and Anand emphasized “SoaPen is a great teaching tool for kids between 3 and 8 years of age and it encourages them to wash their hands.

The time they wash for is intuitive with SoaPen and parents don't have to sing the Happy Birthday song all the time to make sure kids wash their hands!" Their goal is to raise awareness around the benefits of hand washing and promote global access to soap.

In order to encourage hand washing habits all over the world, the company launched a social initiative where for every 3 SoaPens sold in the US, they will donate 1 SoaPen to a low income school. During Issar and Amanat's visit to schools in Mumbai, India they realized that even when soap was being donated to schools, teachers would store it away in their closets fearing over pumping of liquid soap or stealing.

“They would take it out once during the mid day meal and line up the students to put a coin sized amount on their hands which is a big hassle as the student teacher ratio in these classrooms would end up being 60 students to 1 teacher and kids would end up washing their hands once a day if at all."

SoaPen is available for sale on Amazon.com in a pack of 2 ($10.99) and pack of 4 ($18.99) and just launched their pack of 3 ($14.99)!

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Lifestyle

Going Makeupless To The Office May Be Costing You More Than Just Money

Women have come a long way in redefining beauty to be more inclusive of different body types, skin colors and hair styles, but society's beauty standards still remain as high as we have always known them to be. In the workplace, professionalism is directly linked to the appearance of both men and women, but for women, the expectations and requirements needed to fit the part are far stricter. Unlike men, there exists a direct correlation between beauty and respect that women are forced to acknowledge, and in turn comply with, in order to succeed.


Before stepping foot into the workforce, women who choose to opt out of conventional beauty and grooming regiments are immediately at a disadvantage. A recent Forbes article analyzing the attractiveness bias at work cited a comprehensive academic review for its study on the benefits attractive adults receive in the labor market. A summary of the review stated, "'Physically attractive individuals are more likely to be interviewed for jobs and hired, they are more likely to advance rapidly in their careers through frequent promotions, and they earn higher wages than unattractive individuals.'" With attractiveness and success so tightly woven together, women often find themselves adhering to beauty standards they don't agree with in order to secure their careers.

Complying with modern beauty standards may be what gets your foot in the door in the corporate world, but once you're in, you are expected to maintain your appearance or risk being perceived as unprofessional. While it may not seem like a big deal, this double standard has become a hurdle for businesswomen who are forced to fit this mold in order to earn respect that men receive regardless of their grooming habits. Liz Elting, Founder and CEO of the Elizabeth Elting Foundation, is all too familiar with conforming to the beauty culture in order to command respect, and has fought throughout the course of her entrepreneurial journey to override this gender bias.

As an internationally-recognized women's advocate, Elting has made it her mission to help women succeed on their own, but she admits that little progress can be made until women reclaim their power and change the narrative surrounding beauty and success. In 2016, sociologists Jaclyn Wong and Andrew Penner conducted a study on the positive association between physical attractiveness and income. Their results concluded that "attractive individuals earn roughly 20 percent more than people of average attractiveness," not including controlling for grooming. The data also proves that grooming accounts entirely for the attractiveness premium for women as opposed to only half for men. With empirical proof that financial success in directly linked to women's' appearance, Elting's desire to have women regain control and put an end to beauty standards in the workplace is necessary now more than ever.

Although the concepts of beauty and attractiveness are subjective, the consensus as to what is deemed beautiful, for women, is heavily dependent upon how much effort she makes towards looking her best. According to Elting, men do not need to strive to maintain their appearance in order to earn respect like women do, because while we appreciate a sharp-dressed man in an Armani suit who exudes power and influence, that same man can show up to at a casual office in a t-shirt and jeans and still be perceived in the same light, whereas women will not. "Men don't have to demonstrate that they're allowed to be in public the way women do. It's a running joke; show up to work without makeup, and everyone asks if you're sick or have insomnia," says Elting. The pressure to look our best in order to be treated better has also seeped into other areas of women's lives in which we sometimes feel pressured to make ourselves up in situations where it isn't required such as running out to the supermarket.

So, how do women begin the process of overriding this bias? Based on personal experience, Elting believes that women must step up and be forceful. With sexism so rampant in workplace, respect for women is sometimes hard to come across and even harder to earn. "I was frequently assumed to be my co-founder's secretary or assistant instead of the person who owned the other half of the company. And even in business meetings where everyone knew that, I would still be asked to be the one to take notes or get coffee," she recalls. In effort to change this dynamic, Elting was left to claim her authority through self-assertion and powering over her peers when her contributions were being ignored. What she was then faced with was the alternate stereotype of the bitchy executive. She admits that teetering between the caregiver role or the bitch boss on a power trip is frustrating and offensive that these are the two options businesswomen are left with.

Despite the challenges that come with standing your ground, women need to reclaim their power for themselves and each other. "I decided early on that I wanted to focus on being respected rather than being liked. As a boss, as a CEO, and in my personal life, I stuck my feet in the ground, said what I wanted to say, and demanded what I needed – to hell with what people think," said Elting. In order for women to opt out of ridiculous beauty standards, we have to own all the negative responses that come with it and let it make us stronger– and we don't have to do it alone. For men who support our fight, much can be achieved by pushing back and policing themselves and each other when women are being disrespected. It isn't about chivalry, but respecting women's right to advocate for ourselves and take up space.

For Elting, her hope is to see makeup and grooming standards become an optional choice each individual makes rather than a rule imposed on us as a form of control. While she states she would never tell anyone to stop wearing makeup or dressing in a way that makes them feel confident, the slumping shoulders of a woman resigned to being belittled looks far worse than going without under-eye concealer. Her advice to women is, "If you want to navigate beauty culture as an entrepreneur, the best thing you can be is strong in the face of it. It's exactly the thing they don't want you to do. That means not being afraid to be a bossy, bitchy, abrasive, difficult woman – because that's what a leader is."