Zionsville teens find success making, selling goats’ milk soap
By Ann Marie Shambaugh
What began as an attempt to treat eczema and allergies has turned into a thriving business for two Zionsville teenagers.
Deirdre and Ragan Kelley craft and sell soap and other products made from milk produced by goats on their farm. In just a year, the sisters have already found a loyal fan base locally and beyond by selling their products at farmers markets, DL Lowry Hairspa and Boutique, and through their website.
“I just love it when we have customers come back and tell us that our soap has benefited them, that they’re not dealing with eczema or skin issues anymore,” said Deirdre, 16. “It makes me feel like our business is not just a business but it’s a mission.”
Jessie Thompson, the spa director at DL Lowry, said that several clients at the salon have started purchasing Wildflower Farms products because of its organic, local ingredients.
“It’s really nice for somebody who would like something more natural to put on their body,” Thompson said. “The fragrance is wonderful because they use essential oils, and it has a very natural organic look, too.”
Wildflower Farm was born after the Kelley family found their dream home and farm in rural Zionsville four years ago. Before long, they had chickens, goats and acres of hayfields to manage.
The family began drinking fresh goat’s milk after three of the four daughters began suffering from allergies to cow’s milk. They found the milk to be delicious and gentle on the stomach but soon realized they had more than they could use. That’s when the business idea was born.
The girls’ mother, Jonna Kelley, began researching goat milk soap recipes online and eventually crafted her own. Since then, Deirdre and Ragan have mastered the recipe and added scents and oils to create about a dozen different varieties, ranging from grapefruit to clove mint.
“We noticed with this recipe that our hands just felt so much better,” Deirdre said. “The first time I used it I felt like I was putting lotion on my hands.”
The Kelley sisters soon hope to be doing just that, as they launched a 30-day Kickstarter campaign in January to raise $600 for a pasteurizer to enable them to make lotion and hand soaps. By the time the fundraising period ended, the girls blown away their goal, raising $2,201. They used the extra funds to create a workshop for making soap in their basement.
A learning experience
Deirdre, Ragan and their two younger sisters are homeschooled, giving them the freedom and flexibility to keep their business running strong as they complete their education. And running a small business has provided educational opportunities the girls never imagined.
“One of the purposes when we first began [making soap]was to use it as a learning experience,” Ragan, 14, said. “Right before we started we did a personal finance program. The chemistry of the actual soap-making is interesting, too.”
Ragan has also learned a lot about web design as she taught herself how to build a website and created www.WildflowerFarmGoats.com.
Learning to operate their own business has been hard work, as the girls must find time to milk the goats twice a day and continually concoct different scents before forming, freezing and cutting the bars of soap.
“The hardest thing is probably finding time to make some batches of soap when you don’t feel like it,” Ragan said.
But the rewards are many. Both girls said spending time with the goats and their kids are among their favorite part of the business.
“They’re just so friendly,” Deirdre said. “They’re kind of like puppy dogs, how they follow you around.”
FIND WILDFLOWER FARM PRODUCTS
Wildflower Farm products are available at DL Lowry Hairspa Boutique at 1300 East 86th St. in Indianapolis or online at www.WildflowerFarmGoats.com. The girls will also sell their products at Brick Street Market from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. May 16 in downtown Zionsville.