She also talked to fellow customers at the chemical store in Manila, even to the sales people who would give her tips on what chemicals other soap makers are getting from the store.
It took her five trials before she perfected the concoction that satisfied her family, friends and neighbors, who usually got free samples.
“I had to give free samples around town for people to try the products. Then I get feedback from those who have tried using these. From their comments, I moved on and kept on improving the goods.”
Jo said she wanted her products to be user-friendly and as multi-purpose as soap used to be. “Just like in the olden days when we would wash our hair, plates and pots with the same bar of soap with which we washed our clothes,” she said.
With an electric mixer and a heat sealer, the Akiapat household produces almost a thousand kilos daily, enough to keep them all busy.
Farmers by nature
Born to a Kankanaey farming couple in Longlong, La Trinidad, Jo is a farmer by nature. While maintaining a vegetable trading venture, she was also planting temperate vegetables in a “little farm”.
“When we were young, we used to plant camote (sweet potatoes) which we classify into big and small. We leave the big ones for us, while the small ones went straight to the market,” she said.
“The Farmers products are designed for our farmers’ detergent needs,” said Jo, adding that she tried to use the wash water as a spray and observed the sprayed flowering plants grew much bigger flowers, with leaves more robust.
With the scarcity of water, farmers could still use the wash water from their laundry and dish-washing to irrigate their farm or water the vegetable plot, without worrying that the soil would harden.
The Farmers products, Jo said, uses organic coconut-based ingredients that might even fertilize plants.
As she had promised farmers in Benguet, when she stopped supplying them with farm inputs and necessities, Jo would strive to help them in any way she could in the future.
“It was too hard for me to break the news to them that I was giving up my vegetable trading and supply venture. I was then deeply in debt from many financial backers who trusted me but I decided to shift into a venture that would eventually help me and the farmers who depended on me,” Jo disclosed.
Other possible uses
Besides washing clothes, Jo’s detergent may be used to rid the head of nits and lice when used as a shampoo substitute. It may also be used as a pets’ “shampoo” against flea infestation and to cure the gudgod (scabies) in dogs and cats, according to Akiapat.
Crawling insects and microscopic lice in beddings may also be eradicated with a treatment of diluted gel or detergent.
Asked why she does not produce fabric conditioner, she said it is unnecessary when using her detergent.
Indeed, Jo’s dream of producing a product that does it all is slowly becoming a reality. Besides, it has been keeping her family together. (Northern Dispatch / Posted by Bulatlat.comBulatlat>)