CHICAGO — Kate Jakubas doesn't mind being part of the "other soap factory" in Chicago.
Jakubas and her husband, Mike Mayer, are co-founders of Meliora Cleaning Products, which is celebrating its four-year anniversary next month. The couple, who started the business in their Lincoln Park home before moving to Ukrainian Village, also will be the main speakers at Monday's monthly Environmental Industry Night at Pint, 1524 N. Milwaukee Ave.
Like Pullman's giant Method plant, Meliora Cleaning Products makes things that are environmentally friendly. All Meliora cleaning products, now made at a factory in the industrial corridor about a 10-minute walk south of the couple's home, are free of dyes, brighteners and synthetic preservatives and fragrances.
"Method's Pullman plant is really cool and interesting; we are doing some similar things, but on a smaller scale and with a different focus," Jakubas said.
Jakubas said her company has increased revenues 20 percent per quarter since its 2013 founding. It sells in 40 Chicago area retail stores, including six Whole Foods and 13 Fruitful Yield stores, and the couple plans to expand into more of the Midwest market.
Meliora, which means "better" in Latin, features home-cleaning, bath and body, and laundry products. Jakubas said one of its more popular new products is a $2.99 soap stick that removes laundry stains. That stick contains vegetable soap, coconut oil and water. Each product lists all ingredients, plus why and how those ingredients act as cleaning agents.
Jakubas and Mayer are both engineers and graduates of the University of Illinois and Wisconsin. Mayer also has a master's in business administration from Northwestern. They started the venture by experimenting on soap in the kitchen, and in 2012 tested their first batch of laundry.
Five years later — and four after its official incorporation — Jakubas said "time has just flown by."
"We really couldn't be happier," she said. "We're really proud of what we've built."
If you'd like to schedule a tour of the Meliora factory, 2041 W. Carroll Ave., Suite C-220, call 312-721-7961.