Welcome to Our Newest Retail Partners!

We are thrilled to announce that Pure Goat Soapworks has teamed up with a few new retail partners this spring, and we would love to introduce you to them!

Adelaide’s Boutique is a lovely, upscale, independent boutique located in Houston, Texas.  They specialize in finding unique, high-quality items, and have a flair for fashion.  I love their Instagram feed, and the emphasis they place on stocking their boutique with brands that give back!

We are also lucky enough to partner with Lucky’s Market!  Lucky’s Market “Organic for the 99%” is a fun, healthy chain of stores stocked with fresh and organic produce, and unique, locally made products.  You can find our products in their Ann Arbor and Traverse City, Michigan locations, as well as in their Longmont, Colorado, and (coming soon!) Billings, Montana stores.

 

 

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Staying Organized Amidst the Chaos

Fall is now in full swing, the leaves are beginning to give way to patches of crimson and gold, and the holidays will be here sooner than seems possible.  While January is touted as the month in which we lay out our goals and prepare of the New Year, the best way to achieve our goals is to always keep them present in our minds.

One of the tools I frequently use to keep myself on tract is my Tools4Wisdom Planner.  It has spots to write out my weekly, monthly, and yearly goals.  I prioritize my activities keeping my goals in mind, and actively check to see that I am working toward them.  I also review my goals frequently to make sure that they still make sense.

Following Steven Covey (The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People), I begin with the end in mind, and I try to plan out not just my week, but keep mindful of how what I am doing fits in to what I envision for 1, 5, or even 10 years from now.

Eating healthy while keeping up with our family’s busy schedule and special dietary needs is definitely an area that preplanning helps.  Preparing a large batch of quinoa and rice on the weekend, and planning crock pot meals on our crazy days make healthy homemade dinners possible.

I am also making a point to begin to plan our Christmas shopping earlier this year, so I won’t be caught scrambling last minute for gifts.

What area of your life could you be more organized in?  I know I have much to work on (like keeping my home neat and organized!), but knowing my weak areas and vowing to improve them is the first step.

 

 

 

A Visit to Terre Verde Farm

Rich goat milk graces every bar of soap we create at Pure Goat Soapworks.  Today I want to give you a glimpse of the beautiful farm our milk comes from, and show you the milking process.

Terre Verde Farm is owned by our friend Tammy March-Vispi in Allegan, MI.  We began our journey into soapmaking in 2012 when Kevin brought home 3 goats from Tammy.  I fell in love with making and using goat milk soap, but along the way we discovered that we weren’t cut out to be dairy goat farmers.  After a goat kidding (birthing) tragedy in 2015, we gave our herd of 8 goats to Tammy, and now get our milk from our former goats.

Seven-year-old Dominic was thrilled to come with me on our visit and get to see and play with the goat kids.

 Preparing to feed to goat kids at Terre Verde Farm

The first job was a fun one – feeding the kids!  At the moment, five kids are being bottle fed.  There was warm milk in bottles inside the bucket, and one of the kids was eager to help herself!  The goats had been grazing in the large pasture, but needed to be put inside the pen to drink their milk.  Once the kids were in the pen, it was time for everyone to eat.

Goat kids enjoy their milk at Terre Verde Farm

Next, we headed inside the barn to milk Ceecee.  She has been with Tammy for many years, and is one of her favorites.  Tammy cleaned the goat’s underside, and then milked by hand into a stainless steel canister.  Ceecee enjoyed some grain and vitamins while Tammy milked, and she was a pretty patient goat.

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The rest of the does wait for their turn on the milking stand, and when they are finished, Tammy brings the milk inside to be filtered through a milk strainer to remove any dust or impurities.  She then refrigerates the milk for her goat-share customers or freezes it.IMG_20160617_111218987

I brought home eight frozen gallons to use in upcoming batches of soap.  I’m thrilled to be able to get our milk from Tammy.  She adores her animals and takes wonderful care of them.

Terre Verde also offers CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) farm shares.  Contact her through the Terre Verde Facebook page (link at top) for more information.

To browse our natural and artisan goat milk soaps made using milk from Terre Verde Farm, click here.

Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild #HSCG2016 Conference in Tampa

The weather was delightfully muggy and the company was world class.  Thankfully the A/C chilled our conference rooms and there was an enormous super-pool for cooling off outdoors.  I spent from May 14 – May 22 in sunny Tampa preparing for and working as a ground crew member for the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild 2016 Annual Conference in Tampa, FL.  The three-day conference is the largest gathering of soap-making professionals in the world.  I was thrilled to not only attend, but to work behind the scenes to help orchestrate this jam-packed event.

What is the Handcrafted Soap & Cosmetic Guild, you ask?  The HSCG is an international trade association for people in the handcrafted soap and cosmetic industry.  Probably the most important benefit of my membership is that it allows me to purchase both general liability and product liability insurance for my business and products.  It is an abundant resource for information on soap and cosmetic making, and business practices through both their (members-only) How-to Library and Facebook page.  The HSCG also works to protect the interests of small business owners by ensuring that our legislators in Washington consider the impact that proposed legislation has on us, and makes suggestions to change problematic or overly burdensome laws.

RegistrationThe HSCG Conference was sold out this year, boasting 502 attendees and was held at the beautiful Saddlebrook Resort.  The schedule was overwhelming – breakfast at 7 am, seminars until 6pm, and networking parties put on by our sponsors and vendors until 10pm.

As crew members, we often needed to be on-site to work by 6:30am.  I had no idea how much physical work goes in to making the conference what it is – from stuffing the swag bags and wrapping gifts, assisting vendors, selling raffle tickets, and setting up for our speakers, to making sure attendees were well taken care of.  As staff, we wore headsets to communicate which was sometimes a little humorous.  (Or ear-shattering, if multiple people tried talking at once and the headset emitted a loud shriek.)

The seminars ranged the spectrum from product formulation for serums and shaving soap, to website optimization (SEO) and product pricing, along with inspiring success stories.  One of my favorites was Charlene Simon of Bathhouse Soapery who encouraged us to throw out our doubts and be determined to make our business a success (all while wearing 80’s workout attire as a tribute to the 80’s party later on that evening).

Some of the best take-aways from the conference come conversations with other attendees, and in forming friendships with other business owners.  Over the past year I’ve enjoyed a friendship with the roommate I met at the 2015 Conference, and can’t wait to grow friendships with the new friends I’ve made this year.

Both exhausted and energized, I’m ready to move forward in 2016!

Nichole Hasse Soap Conf.jpg

 

 

 

 

 

10 Amazingly Simple + Free Ways to Show Love + Kindness

Part of our mission at Pure Goat Soapworks is to inspire you to show love + kindess. Here are 10 simple but powerful ways you can show love + kindness, and you won’t have to spend a dime.

  1. Share a cup of coffee or tea with someone special.  Every morning my husband makes me a mug of tea, and leaves it on the counter for me sealed in a Contigo insulated cup so it’s hot and fresh when I’m ready to drink it.  It puts a smile on my face, and I feel loved each time I see my cup waiting for me.
  2. Give a sincere, unexpected compliment. Did the cashier at Meijer have a smile on her face?  Tell her that you appreciate her friendliness.  Did your son have a good attitude despite losing his baseball game?  Tell him how proud you are of his behavior.  Did a business rival excel at something?  Let her know that she impressed you.
  3. Pick a bouquet of flowers and bless someone with it.  Even my 7 year old can do this – and he often does!  It melts my mommy heart to receive tiny dandelions and wildflowers.  Do you have any perennials growing in the flowerbeds around your house?  Surprise your daughter, spouse, or even a total stranger with a small bouquet.  She will love it, and it could completely change her day for the better.
  4. Play a quick game of ball with your children or grandchildren.  It might turn into a long game – we often forget how fun it is to play!  My 15-year-old soccer player delights in any type of soccer game, even if it’s playing with his slow, uncoordinated mother.   His eyes light up and I know he revels in the attention.
  5. Do an unexpected chore for your spouse, parent, or child.  Surprise him or her by taking on a task that he or she dreads.
  6. Turn off the devices (tv, phones, iPods, computers) and offer your full, undivided attention.  Checking social media, email, and notifications on devices robs us of our full attention.  Show your spouse, your child, your friend that they matter by giving them all of the time you have together, without the distractions.
  7. Visit with an elderly relative, neighbor, or friend’s parent or grandparent.  Our bodies will fail us all, someday.  Remember that the elderly person has value, and is often limited by a body that is unable function as it once did.  Your special visit will make them happy for days.  When I was in elementary school, our parochial school would make visits to nursing homes, and we would sing songs and then visit with the patients.  They had an “Adopt a Grandparent” program, where we would spend time with one of the residents during our monthly visits.  I didn’t understand at the time why some of the residents would cry during our performances, and why they were so happy to see us.  A simple visit, a half-hour of your time, can brighten someone’s day and allow them to feel valuable.
  8. Write a letter, or send a card or note.  In our digital world, receiving something handwritten is rare.  Surprise your mother or father, and let them know that you appreciate them. Send a note to your child in college.  Send a birthday card to a friend.
  9. Reconnect with an old friend or mentor.  Send a message to your college roommate that you haven’t seen in years.  Track down your old next-door neighbor you used to play with as a child.   Did you have a teacher or mentor when you were growing up mean a lot to you?   Send him or her a note (see #8) and share your gratitude.
  10. Pray for people who are hurting, or for people that you don’t even like.  When you find yourself thinking ill of someone, or criticizing them in your mind, stop immediately, and say a quick prayer for them.  Turn your mind to kindness and compassion.

A Look at the Sudio + New Lanolin Formulas!

Welcome to our studio at Pure Goat Soapworks!  Would you like a look around?  We make all of our products here, and are even able to host soapmaking classes, if you are interested!

Big-Blocks-of-soap

 

Our studio was built in 2015, mostly by the handiwork of my husband, Kevin.  An engineer by trade, he worked with me to plan our layout, and then began construction.  Our studio houses our commercial equipment, enabling us to make batches of 240 bars of goat milk soap at a time.

Our newest addition to the space is a double induction cooktop.  Since we usually use our large oil melter to combine and melt our oils, we weren’t able to make small batches or heat things independently.  Now we are free to experiment with smaller batches, new formulas, and make lotion.

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Nichole formulates a sugar scrub (and hasn’t quite mastered a non-squinty selfie)

We are excited to be able to reformulate several of our products to add Lanolin, a wonderful skin protectant derived from wool. We are incorporating it into our Smooth & Soften Sugar Scrubs, Lip Balm, and are introducing a wonderfully thick (and yet to be named) hand + foot cream to our product line by summer.  We are looking for a few people interested in sampling our lotion, so if you would like to add a sample to your next order, be sure to let us know by sending an email to nichole@puregoatsoapworks.com!

Pictured above is our product creation space (left), and our packaging + photography space (right).

Serendipity: A Few of My (Unexpected!) Favorite Things

Life is full of surprises, that’s for sure!  As a child I often dreamed of the future (I had plans of becoming a professional ballerina, despite being 5’8″ tall and finding the pain of pointe shoes slightly unbearable), and never envisioned my life at 38 to include these gems:

Becoming a Skier – My first experience skiing was a disaster.  A complete and total disaster.  We went to Swiss Valley in Jones, MI on a class field trip in 7th grade, and after an hour on the bunny hill, we were turned loose to ski the intermediate and advanced slopes.  My first run down was terrifying – I hadn’t mastered turning or stopping, and had no idea how to do either.  I’m lucky I didn’t end up in the hospital; I relied on the barricade at the bottom of the hill to stop.  I left the ski hill knowing that I hated skiing and would never be any good at it.

When I met by husband Kevin in 2000, he had been skiing since childhood and taught me how to ski (including that oh-so-important skill of stopping!) and bought me a pair of my own.  All 3 of our children can ski (well, Igor snowboards) and our youngest, 6-year-old Dominic is finishing up his 2nd year as a member of Timber Ridge’s Junior Racing Team.  I love skiing now, and spend as much time outdoors in the winter as a I do in the summer (maybe even more??).  I logged 15 visits to the slopes this season – my 13-year-old self would be stunned.

Becoming a Morning Person – who knew it was possible?  I surely didn’t.  I am naturally a night owl, and come from a long lineage of night owls – my mom and dad still have the ability to  watch an enthralling movie until 2am.  I loved Saturdays because I could sleep in until 10am and would often feel like I was drugged when I tried to wake up “early”.  But last year I stumbled upon a life-changing book called The Morning Miracle by Hal Elrod that put me on the path to early rising.  I realized that I could be so much more productive, and really enhance the quality of my life by waking early.  So it’s Saturday, and I was up a little after 6am today.

Becoming a Small Business Owner – I studied Math in college, and managed to get a minor in Dance (my third audition was the charm that got me into that department), and after graduation I went to work as an actuary (rate-maker) for a large insurance company.  (I know it sounds incredibly boring, but for a nerd like me it was actually a lot of fun!)  The thought of being a business owner was not something I even considered.  But… here I am – and it’s fascinating, challenging, and captivating.  It’s a bit of an obsession, to tell the truth, and completely unexpected.

Nichole-Shrink-Wraps
Nichole shrink wraps soaps

(You can read more about the beginning of Pure Goat Soapworks here.)

What are some of the unexpected favorites in your life?

 

 

Behind the Scenes Sneak Peak at Making Soap

Are you curious to know how we make artisan goat milk soap?  Fascinated by the combination of colors and fragrance?  When my eyes first gazed upon Kenna Cote’s Tiger Stripe Soap back in 2013, I was smitten.  I was mesmerized.  I was hooked.  I couldn’t believe that I was actually looking at soap!  I could scarcely imagine that I would some day be capable of creating anything as stunning as what I saw.   Hopefully today I can inspire you!  Here is a behinds the scenes look at how we make the artistic color design of our Arabian Nights – Sandalwood Goat Milk Soap at Pure Goat Soapworks.
layout

We begin by prepping our workspace and laying out all of the tools we will need to design our soap.  Here you can see that we have already lined our large tray mold with a trashcan liner.  It makes for easy soap removal and is lightening fast!  We also have pre-mixed our colorants.  The tiny squirt bottles have a mixture of reflective mica, mineral pigments, and glycerin in them.  The containers for the colorants are at the opposite end of the table, and already contain a mixture of mineral pigments and some of the warmed oils from our soap.  At this time we have already made our cold process goat milk soap batter and are ready for our color design.

Next we add some of our soap batter to the pre-mixed blue and gold colorants, and pour the balance of our soap into the mold.  Then we begin pouring the colored portion of the soap into lines.

Once all of the soap has been poured into lines, we can manipulate it to make gorgeous patters.  Arabian Nights features a pattern in soapmaking known as the Peacock Swirl.  Kevin custom made tools so we can quickly and evenly rake the soap.  Then we take another tool and make an s-pattern to recreate the peacock feather pattern.  When we are content with the look of the design, we insert the dividers, cover the mold, and wait patiently for at least 24 hours before we can unmold.

The final result stirs the same excitement in my heart as my first discovery of handcrafted artisan soap!  Are you smitten as well?  You can have your own piece of the magic here!Arabian-Nights-no-bkgrnd-web

 

Think Spring + Farmers Markets (Despite the Snow Storm!!)

Yes, I do realize that I am in Michigan, and despite the spring-like weather we’ve had over the past few days, I know we’re about to get blasted with up to 11 inches of snow, but… Spring is coming!  And with it comes the start of our farmers market season!

The Bank Street Kalamazoo Farmers Market is the largest, most vibrant market we participate in.  It has an upbeat, festival feel to it, fresh produce, food trucks, unique handmade gifts, and live music.  Saturday brings crowds of up to 8,000 people, or so I have been told, so come early – the market is open from 7am – 2pm – but it really clears out after 1pm.  It’s a wonderful start to your weekend.

Habanaro carmels.jpgMy favorite treat is a package of Habanero Caramels made by Cherri’s Chocol’Art.  They’re salty, sweet, and spicy.  I’m not usually a caramel fan, nor a fan of spicy foods, but these are absolutely amazing.  One of my customers so very kindly gave me a sample one Saturday morning last year, and eating them has turned into my weekly habit and reward for waking at 4:45am to make it to the market on time!

We’ve participated in the Allegan Farmers Market since 2013 (wow – this is our 4th season!) and are excited for the growth it has experienced.  The Allegan Farmers Market is a smaller market open on Thursdays from 8am – 2pm in Allegan on M-222.  Last year they added an on-site market manager, and vendors can now accept SNAP tokens, Double Up Food Bucks tokens, WIC Project Fresh coupons, or Senior Market Fresh coupons.  New for 2016 is a USDA grant that will give free rides to the market!

Both the Kalamazoo and Allegan markets open in the first week of May – we can’t wait to see you there!  But in the meantime, you can find us at Pure Goat Soapworks!