Darien Farmers Market: Homemade goat's milk soap proves successful
Updated 7:13 pm, Friday, June 7, 2013
Lisa and Rick Agee used to have corporate jobs.
"I had high heels and high hair," Lisa said.
That was up until 12 years ago when their New Milford-based company, Goatboy Soaps, really took off.
Now, the couple, who once worked for other people, are now working for themselves, producing up to 600 pounds of soap and other homemade products from goat milk and selling them around the country and at local fairs, like the Darien Farmers Market.
On a sunny Wednesday afternoon, Rick and Lisa sat under the shade of their tent at the Darien Farmers Market, joined by their 1-week-old and 3-week-old goats, Buttercup and Eve, to talk about the company's origin and journey it has brought them on.
Lisa and Rick's son Bobby was born with severe food allergies and had no tolerance for milk or soy products, but when he was 8 years old Lisa discovered that he could tolerate goat's milk.
While Bobby wanted goats for their milk, Lisa wasn't so sure. So she bought him a veterinary manual from Cornell so that he could learn all about raising goats.
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"He carried that book back and forth to school all winter," Lisa recalled. "In the spring, he said `I'm ready.' "
"Ready for what?" Lisa asked him. To get goats, he replied.
After a quick test of Bobby's newfound knowledge, the Agees bought some goats.
What they found was that the goats were producing more milk than they needed. Lisa doesn't like cheese, so she instead decided to start making soap from the milk.
Neighbors caught on to what she was doing and started buying the soaps. One weekend, Lisa went to a fair to sell her products.
"I felt like I came home with more soap than I had left with," she said. In fact, she had made $600 in that first day of sales.
At first, Lisa and Rick were making small batches of soap that would produce 10 bars. Then they got a larger mold, and then another. Eventually, they found that they needed to get a mold that could produce 100-pound batches of soap that are cut into 4.5-ounce bars.
During the summer, Lisa and Rick will make 600 pounds of soap per week in their basement in their New Milford home.
"This whole thing grew organically," Lisa said. "It just grew out of control."
It was Rick's idea that they start the business.
"I never thought I would own my own business," Lisa said. "I never had the courage. It was Rick who took the leap of faith."
"Hey, we like your stuff," Lisa told Taylor. "We hope you like ours!"
The 30 fragrances the Agees have for their soaps are mainly client-driven, but finding the right scent can be a process.
"I went through eight different fragrance oils before I found one that I thought smelled like lilac," Lisa said.
The Goatboy Soaps are made with goat's milk; olive, coconut and palm oil; shea butter; essential oils; and fragrance. There are also other products available, such as lotions and lip balms.
"When we started this thing, no one else was doing it," Rick said. "Now there are copy cats everywhere we look."
Goatboy Soaps are available for purchase as the Darien Farmers Market every Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.