Welcome to the inaugural blog post from Pure Goat Soapworks! I’m Nichole Hasse, soapmaker, owner, and co-founder along with my husband Kevin. In 2012 we set off to create Hasse Family Farms and Apiary, a small farm with the hopes of growing it to multifaceted business that we could some day both work full time in.
Ever full of ideas and energy, Kevin brought home honeybees, baby chicks, three Nubian/LaMancha goats, and equipment to tap our maple trees, in addition to planting a garden. We set about learning the ins and outs of raising bees, chickens, and goats, contemplated starting a dairy, and learned to make fresh Chevre (goat cheese).
By 2013 our goats each had kids, and we had an abundance of goat milk sitting in our refrigerator. Again spearheading our foray into the natural arts, Kevin suggested that we make goat milk soap and bought the books, molds, oils, and lye necessary to make it. I was skeptical, and unenthusiastic. If only I had known what awaited me!
Our first batch of soap took forever to make. The book we had selected was written before the emergence of the stick blender into the handcrafted soap-making world and had us stirring our first batch by hand. We were looking for something called “trace”, when the combination of water and lye with the soap-making oils is fully emulsified and thickens so the soap leaves a thin trail on the soap batter when lifted out with a spatula and dribbled across the top.
With a stick blender, you can reach trace in a few minutes. Stirring by hand? Well, we were stirring for around 45 minutes before I had the bright idea to use our retired hand mixer to speed the process along. Within a minute we were at trace, and ready to pour our first ever batch of soap. It was magical, really, seeing the reaction between the lye water and oils to make soap. We unmolded our creation the next day, and set it out to cure for the next several weeks.
Inspired by our first batch and Kevin’s encouragement, I set out to make goat milk soap on my own for the first time. Our initial batch of soap was made without the goat milk, but we knew we wanted to incorporate the milk since we had heard so many wonderful things about goat milk soaps.
Being green to soap-making, I didn’t know that I needed to first freeze the goat milk or else the sugars in the milk would caramelize and then overheat, burning the goat milk and lye solution into a stinking orange mess. After scouring the internet, I determined what my error was, and after properly freezing the goat milk, I tried once again and was successful.
My soap-making interest steadily grew as I gained knowledge and began to use our goat milk soaps. I didn’t realize just how much better the goat milk soaps felt on my skin until I visited my parents’ house and washed with regular soap. I was shocked at the difference, and was excited that I could create soaps that were so silky smooth. I was soon completely captivated by making goat milk soaps, and set about improving my recipe until I made something I felt was truly phenomenal.
Ever the man to challenge me to grow, Kevin then urged me to set up a booth at the Allegan Farmers Market in our hometown of Allegan, Michigan. Armed with goat milk soaps, maple syrup, free range eggs, and raw honey, we set up shop at the farmers market, and were elated when we had our first sales.
As the summer went on, we saw more and more customers returning, thrilled with our soap. Many customers confided that our soaps were so gentle that they were seeing fantastic results using them instead of the commercially made soaps that had dried their skin. We realized that we were on to something amazing, and couldn’t wait to grow Pure Goat Soapworks!