Julia Shewchuk from Serenity Acres Goat Farm in Pinetta, Florida, talks about her soaping business and shares her experience at the premier Soaping Retreat Weekend.
SJ – Okay I’m talking with Julia Shewchuk, is that correct? From Pinetta, Florida, Serenity Acres Farm. So why don’t you tell us a little bit about your soap making business. JS - Well, we are a goat dairy up in north Florida, so we have dairy goats and we started the goat dairy because we wanted to have better products for us, for our own consumption. And that started with the milk, and the yogurt and cheese; and, as an extension of that, we had more milk than we knew what to do with, so we started making soap. First for our family and friends, and for ourselves, and just very simple bars. And, we actually just found some of them that we had put way up on a little shelf, five years later. SJ – I bet those were super hard and last a long time. JS – Yeah, and no more scent left, because they were lemon scented. So we started making soap, and just had a lot of fun doing it, and we gave a lot of them away. And then we had the opportunity to participate in a Christmas market in Madison. And we made a lot of soap, very simple packaging and a little handmade logo. And we sold $750 worth of soap in two days. SJ – Wow, wow. JS – That’s what we said, wow! SJ – Do you still do the markets? JS – We still do, we still do. And it’s uh, O’Toole’s Herb Farm, and so every year we still go to the Christmas market. So we decided, hmm, maybe the goats could do a little bit to earn their keep. So we continue to make soap. And, we expanded the scents, we use mostly, that’s all we do, we only do goat soap. And so we made more soap and more soap and more soap, and changed the labels a little bit. We sell now at farmer’s markets, we have a couple retail outlets that we sell soaps to, Whole Foods in Tallahassee picked us up last year, so we’re very proud of that. We have several dog breeders up in north Florida that buy our soap and we make a special label for them, and they give our soaps away with their puppies. SJ – Oh, sweet. It’s nice to have that niche as well. JS – And we sell it on the Internet and we sell it all over the country now. SJ – Let me ask you about your experience here at the retreat. Have you found things that are useful, that are going to help you in your business? JS – Absolutely, absolutely. It was actually exactly the workshop I hoped it was going to be. I did not want to go to a “how to make soap 101”, and I’ve been to workshops, been there and done that; so when I saw the agenda and it was the chemistry behind the soap making and the business and the marketing, and good product manufacturing guidelines, I thought that was great. It has met my expectations and I am definitely considering signing up for the end of January. The one in March, I probably can’t because of the kidding season, which is unfortunate. SJ – The babies are important, that’s what keeps it all going. JS – The goat milk going, yes! SJ – Okay, well thank you so much, I’m glad your experience here has been good and we’re going to ask you if we can take a picture of you over here. JS – With Trixie, yes! SJ – Thank you so much, Julia. JS – Thank you, Susan.