We are excited to introduce a new addition to our blog – Friends of White Harvest Interviews – where we will be talking with gardeners, small business owners, hobby farmers, and others just like you and me who are working hard to live off the land. Feel free to "eavesdrop" and listen in on our chat. And don't miss the giveaway at the end!
We are thrilled to welcome Wendy and the rest of the McKenzie family to our blog today. All of the homemade goat milk soap we carry online comes from Wendy's farm in Nebraska. If you've come by our booth at a show, you've most likely seen Wendy's homemade products on our tables. These all-natural homemade goodies are hard to resist. Here's the scoop behind her family's soap operation.
When did you first start your home/farm-based business?
In December 2011, we moved to rural Nebraska after looking for a farm where we could live more self-sufficiently with our 4 kids. We've always enjoyed animals and immediately started raising chickens and goats. Every animal on our farm has to "earn its keep". Once our hens started laying, we were able to start selling eggs. And our goats were producing so well, we quickly realized soap would be a good fit for us.
I spent the next 6+ months researching before I started making my products. A few of my first batches included the Oatmeal Honey Soap and the Camo Clean soap, which quickly made a name for themselves with my customers. The business quickly grew from there.
Why did you choose goat milk?
There are so many chemicals and unnecessary preservatives in the food we eat and in other products these days. I researched to find better options and found that goat milk in soap was great for helping dry skin and even helps with psoriasis and eczema.
Many soap makers use base oils that I don't want on my skin, like soy and canola, so I decided to make my own goat milk soap using high quality, healing oils such as coconut, palm, olive, castor, almond, hemp, sunflower, argan, and more. I also found many soap makers use fragrance oils to scent their soap and those have a chemical base that can cause reactions to certain people. I decided to use only essential oils which are naturally derived and can also provide aromatherapy and healing properties.
Yes, I also make lip balms and I have some hard lotions which work super well on healing cracked heels and split fingertips. I have a Baby Balm that is great for diaper rash, or other rashes, and I'm working on more baby items as well. I'm also working on some mineral makeup and mascara. And my toothpaste and deodorant are just about ready. I also do "made to order" if there is something that someone wants but can't find.
How has your business grown?
We are lucky enough to live in an area that values local, handcrafted, high quality natural products, so I have quite a bit of interest in my products. Word of mouth always seems to be the best tool in getting customers. We've attended local craft shows and farmers' markets and now have multiple store fronts and wholesalers in Nebraska and in other states as well. I'm always seeking out businesses that share my interest in natural, organic, chemical free products.
How is your family involved?
Everyone contributes to the business, whether it's in production, packaging, sales or bookkeeping. We homeschool our kids and each one does their part. My three oldest are the primary milkers. They each picked the one they wanted. They also help with feeding the chickens, goats, and rabbits. They're all in 4-H and love showing animals.
We also have a 3 year old who tries to keep up with everyone else and helps with bottle feeding and petting anything he can catch. He loves the ducks that we got to keep down the bugs in the garden.
How can our readers connect with you?
We want to thank Wendy for chatting with us today and sharing a little behind-the-scenes from their farm. We also want to thank you for stopping by! We are giving away 2 free soap bars to one lucky winner, so leave your email in a comment below, along with a note or question for Wendy if you'd like, and you'll be registered to win. (Winner will be notified December 20 by email.)