HUMBLE BEGINNINGS WITH THE RIGHT INTENTIONS
Welcome to Defense Soap! I’m Guy Sako, owner, and creator of Defense Soap. I currently operate our company with my wife, Ashley, and son, Gus, along with a small team of dedicated professionals out of the greater Cleveland area. I worked as a Cleveland Police Officer for 25 years and retired in June of 2015. I began wrestling at the age of 10 and continued competing through my senior year at Cleveland State University, where I was an NCAA qualifier. I then started my coaching career at Cleveland State for three years before moving to the youth level to be with my son at the Westshore Wrestling Club. I still serve as the head coach at Westshore and have for the last 30 years, which now serves as a feeder program to the storied St. Edward High School.
CREATED OUT OF NEED
My involvement in the sport of wrestling served as a catalyst for the creation of Defense Soap. During the 12 years of competition and 17 years of coaching, at the time, I witnessed how our sport was plagued with a skin infection. After my youth team was afflicted with nearly 100 cases of ringworm in a single season, I took it upon myself to investigate the possibility of creating a soap for them to use that would eliminate this ongoing problem. Additionally, I wanted to create a safe, everyday soap for my wrestlers that would prevent skin infection, not just treat it. I created Defense Soap with the sole purpose of protecting my wrestlers.
I began my research by looking at what other soap companies put in their products and was shocked to find harsh chemicals in a lot of the top brands. One ingredient in particular that I found was triclosan, which is classified as a pesticide by the FDA. It was then that I started to do research on more natural, homeopathic remedies, which is how I stumbled upon tea tree and eucalyptus oil. These natural essential oils have been found to have antifungal, antibacterial, and antiviral properties. I kid you not when I tell you that I did a google search for “local soapmakers” and reached out to the first result to see if my concoction could be created and the woman I found told me she could.
My search for an all natural soap that would protect my wrestlers from skin infection became a reality and after several tweaks to the recipe, I was passing out soap to my wrestlers and educating our program on proper showering technique and hygiene routines. Some parents thought I was crazy but when we saw about a 90% drop in cases of skin infection, I was able to make believers out of all of them, including myself.
The popularity of our original bar soap grew quickly in the tight-knit wrestling community and demand was quickly outpacing our supply. I was even bringing a small, 6-pack cooler full of soap to tournaments to sell because I was getting bombarded by requests at events our team would compete at. Our small, local soapmaker couldn’t keep up with the rising demand and we had to look for a larger operation. To give you some perspective, when we started with our bar soap, we were making 100 bars at a time. The national vendor we have been working with for nearly a decade now produces 75,000 bars of Defense Soap in a single batch.
As we grew our product lines, we started to work with bigger, national vendors to source our ingredients and products. This was a huge step because it allowed us to choose natural, pharmaceutical grade essential oils. I vowed to always use the highest quality ingredients in my products because that was something I was never willing to sacrifice when I originally developed our soap. I am so confident in our products, that I always offer a full, money back guarantee if you are not satisfied with the quality and effectiveness of any Defense Soap product. I don’t say this to be gimmicky or as a marketing strategy, but I dedicated years to sourcing the best, most effective products I could possibly offer at a fair price.
THE $6 PROMISE
Over the years, we have added a lot of new products to our brand, but our original bar soap is still our most popular. As I explained earlier, I never intended to launch Defense Soap as a business. It was created out of the need to protect my wrestlers. When it started to get more and more popular and I was getting more requests for it, I didn’t know what to charge. I was using the highest quality ingredients I was able to source and our soap was not cheap to make, but I also felt a moral and ethical obligation to provide a quality product at a fair price.
In finding a fair price point, I reflected back to my blue-collar roots growing up in the small rural town of Wellington. The club fees for the Wellington Pee Wee Wrestling Club were $6.00 for the year and that was the limit of what my parents could afford to allocate towards wrestling. If the club fees ever increased, I wouldn’t be able to wrestle at the club any longer. The significance of that dollar amount has a lot of importance in my life because the sport of wrestling gave me so much. I have always said I would never raise the price of our bar because of this and I proudly keep that promise to our customers.
IMPACT OF DEFENSE SOAP
The success and popularity of Defense Soap has exceeded my wildest expectations. However, I do not measure the success of our company by how we are profiting, but rather how we have positively impacted and helped the people who use our products. We were originally created for wrestlers and other combat athletes, but our reach continues to affect people all over the world, evident by the testimonials that come across our desk. Our products are used by hundreds of wrestling teams all over the world and I will never lose sight of my roots in the sport of wrestling. I can proudly say, at least in some capacity, that I have achieved my original goal in helping protect wrestlers both treat and prevent skin infections, but I have broadened the scope of my goals after seeing some of these very intimate testimonials.
I can’t tell you how rewarding it is to hear a raving fan of ours share their story of how our product has given them a renewed confidence and freedom with treating their eczema, or how our products have alleviated the stress associated with a skin disorder they have been afflicted with their whole life. While we cannot make medical claims on some of these success stories, we find purpose in our company values to continue to educate all communities on skin health and hygiene and to provide products and solutions to not just treat, but to prevent skin infection and promote healthy skin with a positive lifestyle.