How It All Began

How it all begin

It all started on a working holiday trip to New Zealand. Anna Lee and Louis Koh, the co-founders of Soapan Santun, went to New Zealand for a working holiday trip in 2019 and something struck them towards the end of their trip. They both worked as a recycling sorter for their last job in Christchurch and were shocked by the amount of plastic coming down the sorting belt and the number of plastic bales going out every day. When Anna was sorting through the recyclables one day, she thought to herself, 'What if everyone uses something that doesn't come in a ridiculous amount of plastic packaging and opts for biodegradable products instead?'

Louis's Eczema

First time making soap

A year after their life abroad, Anna and Louis came home hoping to make small positive changes and impacts on the environment but were still clueless and at a loss at what they could do. Then, when COVID struck, Anna started picking up a new skill—making handmade soaps. Louis was the very first reason why she started learning how to make soaps because his eczema flare-ups were getting out of hand at the time and Anna was desperate to try anything that could soothe his condition.

Upcycling Used Cooking Oil

Turning uco to soap

Soapan Santun truly took form when Anna’s mother presented her with a huge problem at home: used cooking oil with nowhere to properly dispose of. Anna's father had hand eczema that flared up from eating food cooked with used cooking oil. Therefore, no food at home could be cooked with oil from the previous cooking or her dad's hand would start to peel and blister. He also found it impossible to use the commercial dishwashing detergent at home because it dried out his hands, aggravating his condition further. 

Although Anna was already making body soaps at the time, she had not made soaps with used cooking oil before. So when the first batch was cured and ready to be used, her mother was surprised by how well the soap lathered. After using the Multipurpose Soap, Anna's father also remarked that the soaps did not feel at all drying to his hands and they did not aggravate his hand eczema like commercial dishwashing detergents did, so he too encouraged Anna to get more people to try out the soaps.

Fueled by the joy of having made something plastic-free, cleans well, and gentle for the hands, Anna took to her personal Instagram to share her joy with her friends and they began expressing their interest in purchasing the soaps and encouraging her to start a business after they used it.

Two Years Later

Soapan Santun's Anna & Louis

Two years into their entrepreneurial journey, Louis and Anna dedicated themselves to transforming Soapan Santun into a purpose-driven venture, centered around upcycling food waste and fostering positive social change.

In 2023, they took their mission to new heights by organizing two impactful workshops at Tapah Prison: the first session for the officers, and the second for the inmates. Additionally, they extended their expertise to PUSPEN, Sg. Besi, where they taught clients how to make soaps from used cooking oil.

Collaborating with AIESEC UPM, Louis and Anna guided volunteers in making used cooking oil soaps for the Clean Our Plate campaign. These volunteers then imparted this valuable skill to school students, allowing them to apply it in their everyday lives.

Beyond their soap-making endeavors, Louis and Anna also conducted sustainability workshops and lessons at El-Shaddai Refugee Learning Center in Klang and Puchong as part of the students’ syllabus, using props and materials to keep the students engaged.