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Goat Milk Soap CJ Article

Goat Milk Soap CJ Article

Family goat-milk soap business a success

By Niki King | Special to The Courier-Journal June 17, 2009

About five years ago, PJ Jonas was giving her kids a bath when she noticed the soap was made of petroleum-based chemicals.  "I thought, 'I can do better than this,'" she said.

On their three-acre farm in Charlestown, the Jonases had two goats, whose milk the family drank and used to make cheese. Jonas decided to try the goat's milk to make something else: a softer, more natural bar of soap. She searched for recipes on the Internet, bought some lye, invited a friend over to help, and, voila, she'd made three batches of soap.

That experiment has turned into a successful business Goat Milk Stuff that supports and involves the whole family: PJ; her husband, Jim Jonas; and their eight children, ages 1 to 12.
"Everyone has a role," she said.

Brett Jonas, 12, helps with the order invoices and packaging. Colter, 10, milks the goats the Jonases now have seven twice a day. Younger brothers and sisters clean up after the goats and man the family sales booth at festivals. "I'd been praying for years for something we could do as a family, and this has just been really great," PJ said.

Everyone liked the soap because the cream and proteins from goat's milk moisturized it, PJ said. Jim, who often works outside, noticed that the cracks in his hands healed after he started using the soap, and he no longer needs lotion.

At first, the family made 6-ounce bars for themselves or gave them away as gifts. Then, about a year and a half ago, the family car was badly damaged and needed expensive repairs. "I thought, 'How am I going to raise $9,000?'" PJ recalled. "'I know, I'll sell soap!'" She sold the soap at festivals and said the response was tremendous throughout Charlestown. Word spread like wildfire.

The family also set up a Web site to sell the soap, and the Jonases get eight to 10 orders per day, PJ said. They now have customers in 48 states and countries such as the United Kingdom, Canada and even Kazakhstan. They have expanded their varieties of soap to 37, including ones that are unscented for sensitive skin and others with floral, fruit and masculine scents. "It's been amazing," PJ said. "It's grown like I never imagined." To help with the business, Jim has gone part time at his job at Sweetland Ltd., a trash-removal service in New Albany.

The family has built a barn with stations for every stage of production, from mixing the soap to pouring it in molds to shipping it. Jim said that with so many children participating, good organization is the key.  "There has to be lots of process flow, or there is just chaos," he said.

Jim and PJ said the business has taught their children, who are home-schooled, about the real value of things, about how much time and effort is required to make things, not just how much they cost.

The business is now limited by the hours in an already busy day. When the children are older and able to take on more responsibility, the business can grow with them, Jim said.
Colter Jonas said he likes working with the goats. "It's my job," he said, grinning with pride.


 

The Jonas family makes soap from goat's milk at their home in Southern Indiana. The family, from left: Brett, 12, Fletcher, 7, Greyden, 6, Emery, 9, Colter, 10, (holding a goat named Patchouli) Jim Jonas, Indigo, 3, Jade, 1, Hewitt, 4, and P.J. Jonas. (By David Lee Hartlage, Special to The Courier-Journal) June 1, 2009
 
Near the family's goats, P.J. Jonas held her 3-year-old daughter, Indigo, (at left) as P.J.'s oldest daughter, Brett, held the youngest, Jade, who is 1. (By David Lee Hartlage, Special to The Courier-Journal) June 1, 2009
 
Ten-year-old Colter Jonas milked one of the family's goats as his brother Emery, 9, gave the goat some feed. (By David Lee Hartlage, Special to The Courier-Journal) June 1, 2009
 
Emery Jonas, 9, soothed a goat being milked by his brother Colter in the barn of the Jonas' home. (By David Lee Hartlage, Special to The Courier-Journal) June 1, 2009
 
Colter Jonas, 10, milked one of the family's goats as sister Brett, 12, and younger brother Emery, 9, watched. (By David Lee Hartlage, Special to The Courier-Journal) June 1, 2009
 
Colter Jonas held a sample of the goat's milk. (By David Lee Hartlage, Special to The Courier-Journal) June 1, 2009
 
Brett Jonas held her younger sister Jade as they watched their father, Jim, mix a batch of goat's milk soap in the shop of the family's farm. (By David Lee Hartlage, Special to The Courier-Journal) June 1, 2009
 
Emery Jonas, left, and older brother Colter, dismantled a mold to remove bars of goat's milk soap. (By David Lee Hartlage, Special to The Courier-Journal) June 1, 2009
 
P.J. Jonas, far left, used her hands to press bars of soap from a mold as her children, from center left, Emery, Brett, and Colter watched. (By David Lee Hartlage, Special to The Courier-Journal) June 1, 2009
 
The oldest of the Jonas children, Brett, 12, cut bars of soap made from goat's milk. Brett's mother P.J. worked in the background bagging bars of soap. (By David Lee Hartlage, Special to The Courier-Journal) June 1, 2009
 
Brett Jonas, 12, cut bars of soap made from goat's milk. (By David Lee Hartlage, Special to The Courier-Journal) June 1, 2009
 
Indigo Jonas, 3, left, helped younger sister, Jade, 1, with putting business cards inside bags of bar soap made from goat's milk. (By David Lee Hartlage, Special to The Courier-Journal) June 1, 2009
 
Each bar of soap is bagged individually and tied tightly shut. (By David Lee Hartlage, Special to The Courier-Journal) June 1, 2009
 
Some of the goat's milk soap is made into a decorative bar. (By David Lee Hartlage, Special to The Courier-Journal) June 1, 2009
 
Jim Jonas carried his son, Hewitt, 4, on his shoulder as he headed out of the family shop. At right was wife P.J. holding daughter, Jade, and their oldest daughter Brett. (By David Lee Hartlage, Special to The Courier-Journal) June 1, 2009
 
Near the goats were, from left, Colter, 10, Greyden, 6, Emery, 9, P.J., holding Jade, 1, oldest daughter Brett, 12, holding Indigo, 3, and Fletcher, 7. (By David Lee Hartlage, Special to The Courier-Journal) June 1, 2009
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