Serving Minnesota and Northern Iowa.

Goat soap compliments family's organic dairy farm

By Janet Kubat Willette
jkubat@agrinews.com

Date Modified: 11/22/2012 6:58 PM

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DOVER, Minn. — Shanna Wegman's soap business continues to grow from its headquarters on Dover's Main Street.

Wegman opened the business on Main Street a year ago this month and is celebrating with an open house Nov. 8-11. The event will include wine, hors d'ouevres, a chance to win a soapmaking class for 10 and many other door prizes. Live musicians will also play periodically throughout the four days.

Wegman sells her Simple Soaps for Simple Folks in the shop as well as lip butters and hand lotions. She also sells handmade products from local artisans, changing the products every two months. The jewelry, mittens, scarves, barn board art and pottery there now will be there through the end of November, when new products will appear.

Wegman started Simple Soaps for Simple Folks to be sustainable. She had more goat milk than she could use and didn't want it to go to waste. People appreciate that, she said.

Being sustainable and organic are choices her family has made. Simple Soaps compliments and is a reflection of those choices, she said. She uses her soaps as a venue to talk to people at farmers markets about what organic is and the difference between organically produced and certified organic.

More and more people want to connect with the farmers that grow their food. Why not know the farmer who produced what is put on your skin, she asks. Wegman knows the people she sells to.

Not only does she sell close to 40 scents of homemade goat's milk soap, she also makes and sells hand lotions and lip butters that are beeswax based. She sells seven scents of hand lotion and offers two lip butters, one scented and one unscented.

Some of the beeswax used in the lotion and lip butter come from her farm and the rest is sourced locally. She admits they haven't had good luck with bees.

Each batch of soap, about 24 bars, uses 24 ounces of goat milk so there's about an ounce of goat milk in each bar of soap. During the summer months, her does will produce about a gallon of milk per day. She freezes excess milk in the summer to use now when the does are dry.

Sweet Thing, one of her original does, continues to milk. She's added Ethel, Bailey, and Shamrock to her milking herd. Two doelings, Rosalynn and Willie, will produce milk in 2014.

Wegman mixes the milk with certified organic based oils to make bars of soap. Her soap is totally different than commercial soap, she said. Most commercial soaps are detergent based, she said. Her soap is made with fats, proteins and vitamins.

She has customers who special order soaps to meet allergen needs. Her unscented bars are especially popular with these customers.

Not only does Wegman sell from her shop in Dover, she also sells at farmers markets in Rochester and Winona and at food cooperatives in both communities. Her brother-in-law, Bernie Wegman, helps her at farmers markets. Her mother-in-law, Jo-Ann Wegman, watches the shop for her when needed and a neighbor lady, Joanne Walters, takes care of housekeeping details at the shop and is an expert at making the displays look nice, Wegman said.

She will be kicking off her Christmas scents at this week's open house. Scents include vanilla chai, sugar plum, country Christmas, sleigh ride and bayberry.

Next year, Wegman hopes to launch a soap plan similar to a CSA where customers pay so much up front for so much soap throughout the year.