LINCOLN PARK — A Lincoln Park couple have turned their trials trying to make soap in their kitchen sink into an environmentally friendly cleaning product line.
Husband and wife Kate Jakubas and Mike Mayer started by experimenting on soap in the kitchen.
After a turkey bowl football tournament in 2012, the couple tested their first batch on extra muddy clothes.
"It was, for a while, like 'OK we are ordering pizza again because our kitchen is taken over by some test,'" Kate said.
In the laundry room, a growing pile of clothes is a good thing.
"It's always, 'Don't clean that. We need to save it for a test,'" Jakubas said.
Kate Jakubas says a pile of laundry is not a chore, but research, at their Lincoln Park home:
The mission of Meliora K is to provide customers with a product made from a small number of simple, eco-friendly ingredients.
The company even shared the ingredients and recipes used to make them.
Meliora K (meliora means "better" in Latin) was originally created with the intent of focusing on eliminating the environmental impact of laundry detergents by providing a product created with simple household ingredients.
While the product accomplishes that goal, its creators have found that customers are buying it as a safer alternative for their bodies and homes.
"A lot of people are getting used to buying organic. They are getting used to making better choices," Jakubas said. "Then they are starting to look at other things in their home — skin care products and what cleaners they are using. We just want to be clear about here's what we use and why."
Often commercial products include chemicals, dyes and fragrances.
"Your clothes aren't blue, so what's the point?" Mayer said.
The Meliora K team views natural detergents and cleaning products are the next step for people who are shopping consciously for organic food.
New parents fit that category.
"If you have kids and all the sudden you think, 'What's going on? I want to bring something better into my house to help my kids out and make it a safer place for them,'" Mayer said.
Meliora K, which incorporated in May 2013, currently features two products: a laundry powder and a "no frills" soap bar.
The powder, which is actually a flake version of the soap bar, is $13.99 for a 64-load canister and $7.99 for a 20-load package.
The company most recently won the 2013 Sustainable Enterprise Competition at Loyola's Quinlan School of Business and can be found in two Chicago stores and in a chain of co-ops in Milwaukee.
This year the company is shooting for $100,000 in sales out of their Lincoln Park home and has plans to expand their product line.
Mayer, 34, has his MBA from Northwestern University and has committed fulltime to the project, while Jakubas, 30, works for SRAM, a bicycle component manufacturer.
Their product can be bought online at meliorak.com, or at the Dill Pickle Food Co-op, 3039 W. Fullerton Ave, or the Green Grocer, 1402 W. Grand Ave.
"I think people are starting to learn that there is a better way to do things," Mayer said. "They are kind of shying away from the big plastic jug of blue stuff."
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