Learning About Goat’s Milk Soap
For almost 12 years, I suffered from horrible rashes on my skin, especially my hands. I had just built a new house and wanted to keep it nice and clean, but my hands were so itchy and painful that I had a hard time doing so. My mom gave me some advice to research natural soaps online. I found goat’s milk soap, and it made a huge difference.
From Using Goat’s Milk Soap to Making It
In 2007, my youngest child had just started school, and we needed more income. I considered going back to school, but something told me that wasn’t the right thing, so I started praying earnestly about how I could make more money and stay at home with my family. Getting a degree and a job wasn’t the right fit. I didn’t want to leave my kids with someone else during summer when school was out.
I had already been using goat’s milk soap, but I also was drinking goat milk that I got from my brother-in-law. He kept telling me I should get my own goat. I was very hesitant but after much persistence, I finally gave in. He searched and found the perfect goat in Tennessee. The morning I was getting ready to bring that goat home, I began to pray. I asked God, “What can I do to earn more money and take care of my family?”
The answer immediately came to my mind, “Make goat milk soap and sell it.”
I knew that answer didn’t come from me. I was so excited that I said out loud, “That is a great idea!” I started telling everyone that I was going into the soap business.
A Leap of Faith
I didn’t know anything about making soap, but as soon as I got home with my new goat, I ordered books and started researching everything about making soap online. I jumped in with full confidence. I started testing recipes for soaps, sharing them with church friends and family. I took soaps to a sister’s reunion and shared the joy of all-natural goat’s milk soap that had helped clear up my skin rashes. It was exciting to share this new idea and see how other people loved the product.
It took some time, but everything and all the right people showed up along the way right when I needed it. For example, I found someone to build my website, and he helped me to brainstorm and come up with the perfect name. From the beginning, I wanted the domain southernnatural.com. It wasn’t available then, but years later, I was lucky enough to find the owner of the domain. I was a bit nervous to find out the price and to my surprise, the owner had been wanting to buy goat milk. We ended up bartering and trading for goat milk and soap! It was always clear to me that this was God’s idea. As I continued to follow this path, there was always a way forward - even when I couldn’t see it.
From Door to Door to Farmer's Markets
By 2011, everything was up and running and I was ready to sell my soaps. My packaging was ready, and one of my first stops was my local Whole Foods. They were looking for a local soap merchant and loved my product. It was my first big break, and I’ve been selling at Whole Foods ever since.
I began doing small shows at churches and other little local events. My first few shows were a failure, but I kept at it. I was convinced that I needed to get my message out. I started going from business to business to sell. It was November and I sold a good number of soaps this way, and made some connections with businesses I still sell to, including Alabama Goods.
Pounding the pavement wasn’t the right fit for me, though. I started putting in applications to get into more Farmer’s Markets and trade shows all over my home state of Alabama. I also traveled to Mississippi, Tennessee, and Georgia, making new customers and contacts along the way. From 2012 to 2019, I traveled to at least two or three shows a month on Fridays and Saturdays. As part of my gratitude to God for all He had done for me, I decided to not work on Sunday. There were a few times that I had been tempted to do a few big shows that included a Sunday. I decided to continue to trust in Him. This has been a big blessing to me.
Southern Natural Today
As my family grew and grandbabies started to arrive, I wanted to spend more time with family. Farmer's markets and trade shows were my primary source of income, but online sales had grown as I met new people and started to sell on Amazon. I also made the move to sell regionally with Whole Foods.
When COVID hit in 2020, the decision was taken out of my hands. The markets were closed. When they began to open back up, I knew no one would want to handle and smell soaps that someone else had just touched, plus it would be difficult to talk about my products while wearing a mask. It was hard to make the change knowing I wouldn’t get to see my regular customers, but it was time. I moved away from traveling every weekend and started to focus on a new model.
Today, we’re continuing to grow. We’ve built a new workshop on our property where we can handle all of the aspects of the business in one place. We have grown to have four consistent employees – all family – working together. It’s a very family-centered, family-friendly business, where my grandbabies and nieces can come to play in the same building their parents are working in. My prayers were truly answered and my blessings have been multiplied beyond my dreams. I’m thankful every day for Southern Natural, and how it has touched and blessed the lives of so many people.