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Made by Members: Hanna & Johan Akerström

In the heart of Zurich, Hanna and Johan Akerström are reviving the traditional craftsmanship of natural soap making with Soeder.


The shiny, brown glass bottles with the white lettering can now be found everywhere: Soeder has been supplying Swiss households, stores and restaurants with its natural hygiene products since 2015. When Hanna and Johan started making natural soap together with a few like-minded people, they may not have had a detailed business plan, but they shared a clear common vision.

Johan, how did you come up with the idea of making natural soap?

Unfortunately, soap made from purely organic ingredients is hard to find on supermarket shelves these days. Making natural soap is actually a traditional craft that was practiced thousands of years ago. We wanted to bring this tradition of soap making back to life by making cosmetics from 100% natural and unprocessed ingredients.

And what drives you?

We firmly believe that with Soeder we can contribute to making the world a better place. Sustainability is always at the forefront of our products: We use the ingredients that nature provides. And we rely on refill stations so that glass bottles are not thrown away, but can be refilled. This is now possible at around 130 locations.

In what other aspects does sustainability play a role at Soeder?

Actually everywhere. We do not follow trends, but focus on durable and timeless products. Our soaps, disinfectants and lotions should not only be good for people but for the planet too. That’s why we have control over the entire production chain, from materials to packaging.

Speaking of materials: Where do you get your ingredients from?

From many different places. For example, we get our honey from German-speaking Switzerland and Ticino. And the same is true here: Our path is one of continuous improvement. When we find better materials, we replace them.

This is paying off, as you now also supply the SWISS airline, among others.

Yes, that’s right. They approached us a few years ago because they wanted to replace their conventional products with natural alternatives. And that’s exactly what we did for them. We are convinced: If you make a good product, it will sell itself. In the beginning, we only sold our products in our store and then our customer base started to grow. Due to the demand from our customers, we were able to expand our range and add other products alongside the soap.

Was there a key moment in Soeder’s success story?

We had a formula for hand sanitizer before the coronavirus pandemic. But we didn’t see the potential at the time. Then, from one moment to the next, the whole world wanted this kind of product. So we put all our energy into improving our disinfectant and within a month we had our finished product. At that time, we supplied many hotels and restaurants, but then they had to close down and stopped placing orders. We were very lucky that the disinfectant sold so well.

So your product itself is your recipe for success?

Yes, definitely. And that we love our work.

Do you have any tips for other young entrepreneurs?

Our biggest piece of advice is that you have to love what you do. As a founder, your work will take up about 16 hours of your day for the next 20 or 30 years. Your work has to drive you every day. Our biggest challenge in the beginning was finding the right work-life balance for us. Although it was difficult for us as a couple at first, we now work very well together. Another factor that helps us balance work and life is our children. They give us a sense of purpose, remind us that it’s the end of the workday, and are enthusiastic soap makers themselves, having spent many hours helping us in the factory.

What would you like to pass on to your customers?

Real soap, the kind we make, is sadly on the verge of extinction. Our soap factory in Zurich is more than just a production facility; it is a beacon for mindful production. Sustainability is and will remain our guiding principle and we hope that our customers will enjoy our high-quality products.

Made by Members Portrait: Soeder Hanna & Johan Akerström