Dwight and Marilee Johnson tried everything they could to help their young son Chance find relief from eczema, an itchy skin inflammation. They found the remedy in their goat pen. The Bend, Oregon couple started making soap using the milk from their two goats, and Chance’s eczema cleared up.
In 2012, the family created a thriving business called Bend Soap.com, making soaps, lotions, and other products with goat milk and natural ingredients.
The Johnson’s are now milking 16 goats. Marilee says their eight children – seven boys and one girl - are involved in the family business.
"They help us with the goat milking in the morning, and they just love that. They love working with the animals and all that kind of stuff, and they even have sort of taken it over from Dwight and I, so that’s their primary focus in the soap business," says Marilee. "But then we also grow all of our own hay so they’ll help with the water and the irrigation. And then we have lots of customers coming out to the farm and we love to talk with them and give them tours, so the kids are really involved in interacting with people."
Marilee says Bend Soap was founded on having a need and finding a way to fill that need. She homeschools their children, and notes that by having them involved in all aspects of the business, the kids are thinking both creatively and critically.
"They’re constantly thinking in that mindset, and it’s really fun to watch. My oldest son is already created his own little niche business using the barrels that we get the oils from. He resells those on craigslist," says Marilee. "That concept during homeschool of a creative way of thinking and business mind."
The products are available online and in some local stores, but Marilee says their goal is to be on store shelves everywhere.
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