A Journey From Challenges to Choices…

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What does PLA mean to you? A simple answer would be, of course, great soap: natural fragrance, unique texture, and a good cause behind the brand’s inception (see our first blog entry to know more if you haven’t already).

For current MBA student Daria Mostowa, who went passionately into this venture no more than a half year ago, PLA is about aspiration – an aspiration for challenge, positive energy, and choice.
Born and raised in Poland, Daria has always loved a challenge. At 17 years of age, she decided to pursue her mountain climbing hobby joined a youth mountaineer club. Teamed up with four other climbers, Daria challenged herself to Mont Blanc – the highest peak in Europe – in the very same year. She was the only female member on the team. All being well, 300 meters away from the summit, however, weather changed violently and a snow-storm hit. Unable to advance, the team was trapped on the spot. As the life-threatening wind roared on, the team had no choice but to cling to the ground and wait… It was hours before the storm subsided, and the team extracted safely.

After the initial failure, Daria returned to Mont Blanc the following year, and reached the summit successfully.

Being a challenging and enormously rewarding venture, the mountain climbing experience taught Daria positive thinking, and encouraged her to seek more positive “energy” from life. Having obtained a finance degree in university, Daria worked for a major international bank’s branch in Poland. The work was well paid and, in its way, full of challenge. However, Daria realized that the heavily profit-driven, pressure-cook environment failed to resonate with her values for life.

Looking for more, Daria started to travel extensively. During the course of a decade, she was well travelled in over 30 countries across the European, Africa and Asian continents, often in backpack style. It happened to be that Bali, the small Indonesian island, was the place where she met with a good cause, and generated the idea for PLA.

While making efforts to empower the Balinese women with more choices for their lives, Daria herself was on the move to broaden her choice as well. In 2011, Daria came to Vancouver, Canada to pursue her MBA studies. In this demanding program, she needs to scale many barriers including mastering English in a business setting, and various cultural shocks (do note that in Poland, people network in a different way than in North America – they would never ask “how are you”!). In this brand-new challenge, Daria find herself empathizing better with the Balinese women, and become even firmer on her belief in individual choices.

Big ideas, it’s all in the soap.

PLA: A Breeze From Bali…

Welcome to the official blog of PLA Naturals!

Having spent some time on the PLA (read “plah:”) website (http://www.planaturals.ca/) and getting to know our soap products, you might be wondering from where, and how, our brand had its start? Indeed, being a young brand, our unique origin is what makes us so different, and a powerful drive behind our effort to make PLA a success.

It all started when Daria Mostowa, the young Polish entrepreneur behind PLA Naturals, checked into a small luxury hotel with her husband on Bali Island, Indonesia. Located on a cliff with beautiful ocean view, the hotel had a glaring air just like about everything else in Bali, the Southeast Asian tourist heaven.

temple new

In the midst of this overwhelming tropical magnificence, however, something small – almost trivial – caught Daria’s attention. She found that the soap used in the hotel really made a difference: unique fragrance, delicate texture, and a uncompromisingly healthy, natural sensation.

Deeply impressed, Daria asked the hotel about the soap, and was informed that they are made locally in a small workshop and could not be bought elsewhere. On her departure, Daria purchased several cartons of the soap directly from the hotel as souvenirs for friends back home. The soaps ended up being extremely popular. A new idea popped up: why not contact the Bali workshop for more, and possibly make it a business?

Through a number of transfers, Daria got hold of Charles, the manager and owner of the local workshop on the other end of the phone. A kind, down-to-earth small business owner, Charles locates his small soap workshop very close to the pristine beaches of Bali. Mainly supplying hotels and local shops, the small yet stable business is not bent on expansions or “making a buck”, thus preserving the natural, quality-focused nature of its products.

Charles’ little factory means more than just good soap, however, that the employees working there are mothers whose children do not have access to proper childcare services. With a genuine concern for the disadvantaged women, Charles set up his workshop to be open for the women, who could bring their children to work. In a region where females are often underemployed, the workshop also provides the women with a stable income.

Our factory

Daria was intrigued by the soap business’s undertone of sustainability and empowerment – both are values she personally commits to. With a partnership in place, Daria is striving to promote the small, beach-side soap workshop, creating more and greater opportunities for local women while introducing the top-quality, all-natural soap to the rest of the world under the brand name of PLA. While operating a solid online-retail business, PLA is unequivocally rooted in profit-sharing and social awareness practices.

The seed of hope grows, even from the smallest of places…