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Soft Soap Inventor Dies

September 12, 2013

Robert Taylor was 77.

Robert R. Taylor, the father of liquid soap, died. He was 77. In 1978, his company, Minnetonka, introduced Softsoap, after Taylor grew frustrated with the mess caused by disintegrating soap bars. According to the Harvard Business Review, Taylor thwarted the multinationals by purchasing a year's worth of pumps—100 million of them—from the only manufacturers in the US. The move bought Taylor time as it was more than a year before competitors could match his product.

Later, in 1985, Taylor worked with designer Calvin Klein to introduce Obsession, a fine fragrance that shot to fame based on its steamy ad campaign.

In 1987, Minnetonka sold Village Bath, Softsoap and Sesame Street Bath Products brands to Colgate-Palmolive. Unilever bought the rest of the company two years later for $376 million. Taylor went on to found Graham Webb International, which sells beauty products to salons. He sold it in 2001 to Wella.

The Institute for Entrepreneurship at Miami University inducted Taylor into the Entrepreneurship Hall of Fame in 2012.

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