Maiya Szotkowski

Maiya Szotkowski is the winner of a $1,500 Tadpole Tank scholarship that recognizes the Menomonie High School senior’s entrepreneurial efforts.

Tadpole Tank, the mini version of a certain popular TV show, was created for young women in the Chippewa Valley to scratch that entrepreneurial itch and win a scholarship up to $1,500.

Submitting evidence of their endeavors as young business leaders, the applicants show their edge and desire for the piece of the American dream. They had to promote themselves through social media to gain votes on tadpoletank.com and whoever garnered the most votes emerged as the winner.

Coming in first place as Tadpole Tank winner was Maiya Szotkowski, a senior at Menomonie High School and founder of Soap for Hope, a lightweight, biodegradable soap that is taken to third world countries via mission trips. Each bar of soap is given to someone in need and comes with a message of encouragement and scripture. Her first batch was sent to Saba, Honduras in November 2016.

“I have always had the heart for helping people, and one way I have found to do that is through missions,” Szotkowski said, noting that although her church, Cedarbrook, has led many mission trips through Living Waters International, she has been unable to take part. “It broke my heart that I was not able to go, but last summer I decided that instead of feeling sorry for myself, I would do something from where I was.”

Szotkowski asked one of the trip leaders what they needed most to take down to Honduras for their next mission: “She simply said soap. ... I started by making bars of soap in my kitchen with my best friend and my family. This is where Soap for Hope was born.”

The family not only donates soap, she explains, “But sell with the ‘buy one, give one’ motivation and promise. In John 15:3, Jesus tells us ‘You are already clean because of the words I have spoken to you’. My goal with Soap for Hope is to truly enable people to feel completely clean, spiritually and physically.”

It’s all part of her fundraising efforts for her long-awaited mission trip. “In December 2017, I will be able to deliver my soap and see the impact personally when I travel with a LWI team to Honduras,” Szotkowski said. “I expect to continue Soap for Hope after I return, continuing to sell and send. ”

Tadpole Tank was created by Kim Nimsgern of Casual Panache. As the owner of the Menomonie-based business, her passion is empowering young minds and encouraging the growth of future business leaders.

According to Nimsgern, the success of her international empire did not come by luck, but through the community of support she’s found throughout Western Wisconsin and beyond. Students were the designers of the first prototype, its packaging and other key components of her invention of the Click n Curl (clickncurl.com, a unique blowout brush set with detachable barrels.

The Chippewa Valley native said she is excited to help contribute to Soap for Hope and Maiya’s continued education.

“We can’t wait to see what this young lady does in the future. She is making big waves as only a senior in high school. Maiya will go on to do great, great things,” Nimsgern concludes. “It was fun to see how close the contest was and to see the measures the community took to share these girl’s stories. [They] are leaps and bounds ahead of their peers. All of the contestants are winners in my book.”

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Dunn County News Editor

Barbara Lyon is the editor of The Dunn County News in Menomonie, WI.

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