Soap sheets, the newest on-the-go sanitising solution
Rove founder targets millennial women conscious about health and wellness
“Not your grandma’s hand soap” is a statement that Tafari Roberts stands by even though her brand, Rove, was inspired by her own grandmother and mother, who she describes as the typical hard-working Jamaican matriarchs. “Because of my grandma and my mother, both resilient women, doing what they had to, hustling to make sure their children had all they needed, I would say I got into that business frame of mind and that hunger for information from them,” Roberts told The Gleaner.
That hunger, she said, translated into her doing the research for Rove biodegradable, dissolvable paper soap sheets, which is a subsidiary of The Tafari Group established in 2015 in Detroit, Michigan, where she was born and raised.
“The Rove brand was birthed last year during the pandemic. When travelling, you want to have certain things at your fingertips, and soap is not one of those things that is convenient to travel with after it gets wet. In my research, a handful of companies in Asia and South America make these soap sheets for children in primary schools, but in the US, the product has not really taken off,” she said. “Washing hands is better than sanitising, whereas sanitiser kills most germs, soaps washes off all germs. In essence, this is what inspired the business idea. It is made of soap agents and humectants (used in shampoos and lotions to keep the hair and skin moisturised), so your hands and face won’t feel dry. There are also essential oils, yet the paper sheet is water-soluble, and these substances are not harmful to the environment.”
The Rove soap sheets are available in five scents: Ocean Breeze, Lavender Mist, Pink Rose, Fresh Jasmine and Green Tea Twist, and there is also an unscented option.
She shared that “bars of soap or liquid soaps in containers of a public restroom are not always the most sanitary”, and the feedback she has received from various demographics is that “sanitiser is just a band-aid”, which makes the eco-friendly soap sheets easier to market. The directions to use the Rove soap sheets are also simple and straightforward.
Roberts explained, “Rove is a synonym for roam and wander; people who are always travelling want a solution to their sanitising or sanitary needs outside of the sometimes-sticky sanitisers and with these soap sheets, you don’t necessarily share with anyone. From your pouch, you take a sheet, add water, lather and rinse and you’re on your way to ‘rove freely’.”
The small plastic pouch is lightweight and portable and is designed that it can easily fit in handbags, cosmetic bags, purses and pockets without the bulky appearance making them ideal for travel and road trips she shared. Millennial women, specifically those who are mothers-on-the-go are the brand’s target market, “those who are conscious about health and wellness, or women who are adventurous”.
“It’s a solution to their needs; you can tear a sheet in half to clean a child’s hand and literally get the same effect because of the condensed formula. Fifty sheets come in one pouch,” she said.
The products are available in popular US department stores such as Walmart and Meijer, but Roberts has plans to have the brand situated across supermarkets and pharmacies in Jamaica. “It’s hard to tell if other brands will go in a similar direction of investing in soap sheets; it depends on the temperature of the market or the region they are marketing to, but I hope they do as it can help with our global health concerns. It would make their brands more innovative. Right now, it is a convenience brand to be able to travel with it, but it doesn’t negate the idea of us expanding into making bigger sheets too. My end goal is to give back to my country, and I would like to have hotels consider carrying Rove in their shops or partnering with the brand,” Roberts said.