A Year in Review – Pure Goat Soapworks 2017

Now that we are about a month into the new year, I thought I would take the time to highlight some of the fun we had serving you this year. We love being a part of your life, and wanted to summarize the ways we had the privilege to do serve you in 2017.

  1. We launched two new products: Ultimate Bath Bombs (painted with Mica!) and Blossom – Alluring Lilac Goat Milk Soap, and we also introduced our Mini Hand + Heel Butters for an on-the-go or try-me size.

 

  1. We met you at 44 events – WOW! We enjoyed seeing you at the Holland Farmers Market, Kalamazoo Farmers Market Night Market, St. Joseph Lions Club Craft Show, St. Joseph Bluff Artisan Faire, St. Joseph Inn at Harbor Shores Holiday Bazaar, South Haven Mitten Made Makers Market, and Christmas at Wings!  That’s a lot of setting up – but we are THRILLED to be there for you!

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  1. We added 8 new Retail Partners!  From Lucky’s Market in Traverse City and Ann Arbor, Michigan, to Adelaide’s Boutique in Houston, Texas, and two local lavender farms, you can find Pure Goat Soapworks products all over the US!  Check out our Where to Buy page on the website for details!
  2. We connected with you through Instagram, Facebook, and our Newsletter (subscribe for special offers!).
  3. We launched our first ever Christmas Bonus Time giving you the chance to get three full-sized bonus gifts with purchase! Look for this again next year during the Black Friday/Cyber Monday weekend.  (Sign up for our Newsletter mentioned above to be sure you’re included this year!)
  4. We added our first part-time market helper, our daughter Lidiya Hasse to help out during busy events. Look for her to be running a few market days this summer!23915685_130641357622126_576875671152452587_n

Whew! That’s even more than I thought it would be. Funny how you don’t really know what you’ve done until you take a moment to sit down and write it all out.

I hope you enjoyed being our customer in 2017 as much as we have enjoyed serving you. We look forward to serving you even better in 2018.

Question: Have you taken a look at what you did last year? We’d love to know a bit about the great things you did in 2017. I’m sure there will be room for you to pat yourself on the back a bit. Take the time to do it, you deserve it.

Thanks for reading, and do leave a comment and share.

 

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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!

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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.

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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?

 

 

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!

Passionate Work, Love + Inspire

 

I am passionate about soapmaking, and running an Indie business! Here is what I cherish most about our work at Pure Goat Soapworks:

Art & Creativity – Did you ever want to be good at something as a child, but just knew that you weren’t, and would never be? I wanted to be good at art when I was in elementary school, but I lacked (and still lack!) the fine motor skills to draw or paint well. In college, I had my roommates paint my fingernails for me because I was inept at doing it myself. It would have been easier for me to stick my fingers in a paint can and then remove the excess, than be able to paint my nails myself.

But then I began making soap, which changed everything! I realized that I was creative, and that I could design patterns, mix color and fragrance, and make something that was entirely unique and beautiful. I actually was creative and artistic. The 4th grader inside of me was overjoyed!

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Nichole makes Arabian Nights Sandalwood Goat Milk Soap

Making Soap – Science and Art meet in making artisan soap, and it’s been exhilarating to participate in the marriage of the two. Formulating and tweaking recipes, learning how to use colorants, creating color schemes and patterns – it’s been a sweet journey!

Our Customers – I truly enjoy building relationships with the many wonderful people I’ve met since we started our business, like “Mr. G.” from our Allegan Farmers Market. Mr. G is in his 80’s, and comes weekly to the market with his daughter and dog Greta. Every time I see him, he has a smile on his face, and a sparkle in his eyes. He always stops by to say hello, even when he doesn’t need to buy soap or raw honey.

Connecting with other Indie Makers – There is a community of Indie business owners and Makers that I am blessed to have found, and a Makers Movement that is satisfying to be a part of. So many of the products we buy are made overseas, mass-produced. There are so many more unique things available right here in the US, in your own hometown, being made by talented, hardworking people. The Bank Street Kalamazoo Farmers Market hosts more than 100 amazing small businesses. I love meeting other creative makers, and patronizing their shops.

Love + Inspire – I hope to inspire you love to one another. We are passionate about helping orphans and the families adopting them through Reece’s Rainbow. I am grateful to have a voice to be able to bring attention to the plight of orphans, and help them in whatever small way I am able.

The Begining

 

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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.

First GM soaps
Our First Goat Milk Soaps

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!