cool shit alert
10.29.2014 | Issue #3
Know what the customers of Los Angeles’ AOC, San Francisco’s Tosca, and New York’s wd~50 all have in common? Sniff their mitts and you’ll get soothing notes of bergamot, olive, and exotic grasses. Creepy? Maybe, but also a sign that their dinner hosts all have killer taste in not only food, but artisan soap. Hands of the restaurant world, meet Further Products.
It all started with biodiesel. Angeleño Marshall Dostal, in the quest to juice up his 1984 Mercedes 300D, began picking up waste grease from local restaurants. You know, the kind you surreptitiously dispose of in a dark alley after you’re done scrubbing down the line? Dostal wanted in. After making it through the lengthy distillation process required for home-brewed biodiesel, his garage was soon filled with the byproduct of such do-gooding: drums of glycerin.
“He started making soap, and it was working, but it was super, super crunchy,” Marshall’s wife and business partner Megan tells me. “It didn’t foam, it had no fragrance, it was almost cloudy-looking. It was technically soap.”
Megan, a former New York City event planner, likes a good aesthetic challenge. If this second-life soap was about to become a staple in every room of the house, she wanted something she’d be psyched to use. So, like every fledgling operation before it knows it’s a business, they took the first steps. It’s been six years, and now the ball is well and truly rolling.
“We started out working at a desk, and then a bedroom, and then we took over the living room and dining room, and now we finally have a warehouse and an office,” she says. “It wasn’t our intention for this to be our business. It wasn’t something we were burning the midnight oil on, it was just fun. It’s cheesy to use the word ‘organically’ in this context, but it really has happened that way.”
Triumvirate Nancy Silverton, Mario Batali, and Joseph Bastianich were the first to get on-board, stocking their Mozza outposts with the Dostal's product. They tacked up a little signage in the restrooms to let their customers know what was up with the awesome suds, and the response was overwhelmingly positive. And, because restaurants always be scopin’ out fellow restaurants in the name of industry support, it didn’t take long for other places to catch on.
“We can’t do what we do without the restaurants,” she says. “Whether or not we work with their grease haul, which most of the restaurants we do, they like the story.”
The story is, to put it bluntly, a lot of work. Working with the grease haulers, making the fuel, refining the glycerin and infusing it with fragrance. It’s all-or-nothing. The soap, lotion, candles; it all brings the original desire for clean fuel full circle.
“You have to that dedicated to the entire process. Marshall would be making the biodiesel with or without Further, so the business just rolled out of the way we were living. You can make soap in any number of easier ways!” Dostal admits. “Further is sustainable and eco-conscious, but it’s nice. And I think that appeals to people who think that in order to be green, you have to be less-than, somehow.”
So what’s next? This, she says, is where Marshall would most likely say world domination. On a smaller scale, look for a new product next month and a new fragrance in the coming year. As for conquering bathroom sinks, Further is currently collecting grease from 75 restaurants and counting, and their products will continue to pop up in eco-conscious joints all over the country.
“When you go to a nice restaurant, you want your experience to be carried throughout,” she says. “It just shocks me sometimes when the food is amazing, the wine is incredible, and then you go to wash your hands and it’s that pink stuff! There are so many beautiful soaps out there, but to have one that ties into the experience you’re having in the dining room? That’s what we’re excited to offer.”