#Changemakers in the Disabilities Community: Kate Knight and Craig Tiritilli

Kate Knight and Craig Tiritilli // photos Hunter Lacey
Kate Knight and Craig Tiritilli // photos Hunter Lacey

In 2009 Craig Tiritilli and Salah Boukadoum started Soap Hope in Dallas based on a shared dream of a company that would use 100 percent of its profits to help people. Each year Soap Hope took all of its profits and gave them to social organizations that focused on lifting families out of poverty through microlending to women in impoverished communities. And every year, those loans have been paid back. Since its inception, Soap Hope has been a thriving internet retailer of all-natural cleaning products for the body and home – and has continued to serve people in need.

“Every year, the money we lent would be paid back to us. This confirmed what we were hoping: A business can actually do that and make an impact without having to just give money away,” Craig shared. “We employed the money for a year at a time to do good, and we’d get it back and could invest it into Soap Hope.”

Soap Hope is an online retailer of all-natural products for the home and body // photo Matthew Shelley
Soap Hope is an online retailer of all-natural products for the home and body // photo Matthew Shelley

Though Craig enjoys the all-natural component of Soap Hope products, he was most excited by the lending cycle that he has watched succeed every year. Based on that cycle, Craig and Salah formed Good Returns Group, a company that helps corporations make microloans a part of their business model.

“Our experiment had achieved its purpose, so we decided we wanted to do something else with Soap Hope so we could focus on Good Returns,” Craig said.

Craig Tiritilli // photo Hunter Lacey
Craig Tiritilli // photo Hunter Lacey

In search of a new home for Soap Hope, Craig and Salah reached out to Michael Thomas, executive director at My Possibilities (MP). Michael had long expressed to them the desire for more job opportunities and training programs for MP’s clients, known as Hugely Important People, or HIPsters. Once Craig and Salah decided to turn their focus toward Good Returns, MP seemed like the right fit to take over leadership at Soap Hope.

The timing was perfect. In 2018, My Possibilities had participated in United Way’s Social Innovation Accelerator to found MPact, a benefit corporation, or B-Corp, designed to bridge the employment gap for adults with disabilities. As the director of the United Way program, Kate Knight worked alongside the MP team to lay the foundation for MPact. She thought it was not only brilliant, but a necessary addition to the intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) community in Texas.

“When Michael Thomas approached me and said, ‘We’re ready to go with MPact. We’ve got some startup funding. We’re ready to hire someone to bring this to life. Would you be interested?’ I didn’t hesitate. I said, ‘Absolutely,’” Kate remembered.

Kate Knight // photo Hunter Lacey
Kate Knight // photo Hunter Lacey

When Kate joined the MP team as director of MPact this spring, she also began overseeing operations at Soap Hope. While the transition of Soap Hope to the MP team has been slowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, operations have been moving forward to staff and train plenty of HIPsters.

“When things are fully transitioned, Soap Hope’s staff will probably be 70 percent HIPsters,” Craig shared.

“I see the work between MP and Soap Hope as an impact triple threat. We have the revenue that builds sustainability for MP, the employment for HIPsters, and the opportunity to bring awareness about the huge disparity in employment rates between people with IDD and the rest of the community,” Kate said.

My Possibilities’ HIPsters hold a variety of jobs at Soap Hope // photos Matthew Shelley

In Texas, only six percent of individuals with IDD are employed. Throughout the country, 20 percent of individuals with IDD are actively employed. There is still work to be done nationwide, but Texas has even more work to do. MP wants to be at the forefront of solving this problem.

“By creating these opportunities, we can show our community how valuable inclusive employment really is,” Kate said. “Every time we make a sale, we have the opportunity to illustrate inclusive employment of the IDD community.”

Soap Hope works well for HIPsters because there’s a large variety of jobs within the company, offering a selection of job difficulty to accommodate each HIPster’s needs and capabilities. “The HIPsters fit right into it. It gives them an opportunity to learn, grow and have meaningful work,” Craig shared.

“I believe we have only scratched the surface on what Soap Hope can do for our HIPsters and people with IDD. Nationally, the IDD community is passionate, connected and vast,” Kate reflected. “I see Soap Hope’s message being shared far and wide. We can be the nationally recognized brand for IDD support. There is so much more opportunity come.”

Soap Hope > My Possibilities >

The above content is sponsored. We have partnered with My Possibilities to spotlight #Changemakers in the disabilities community.

Written By
More from Hunter Lacey

Brisket Love BBQ to Open at Legacy Hall March 10

Brisket Love BBQ will open its first location on Tuesday, March 10...
Read More

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.