Hand­made goat's milk soap

Living France - - Lifestyle - love­lait­savons.fr

We first moved to France in 1998, to Dor­dogne. We wanted a change in life­style while the chil­dren were young enough (aged five and three at the time). In the UK I was a stay-at-home mum and Neil was a far­rier so it was easy enough to carry on do­ing the same jobs in France.

“We moved to Ariège in 2004, at­tracted by its un­spoilt na­ture as well as the prospect of be­ing closer to the moun­tains (we are keen skiers) and other sports and ac­tiv­i­ties for the boys. By now Neil was work­ing as a black­smith as well as a far­rier, which kept him busy but the co­ti­sa­tions were crip­pling.

“I’ve al­ways had goats since I was a child, and with the boys grow­ing up, I wanted some work of my own. I first started mak­ing soaps from goat’s milk be­cause my son Tris­tan has eczema and it was dif­fi­cult to find prod­ucts which didn’t ir­ri­tate his skin. Then I started mak­ing them for friends and fam­ily and they were al­ways very well re­ceived, so I thought I’d try and make a go of it as a busi­ness.”

The fam­ily moved to a house with five hectares for the goats and Neil put his busi­ness on hold while he ren­o­vated the house, and Lisa reg­is­tered with the Cham­bre des Métiers as an auto-en­tre­pre­neur (now mi­cro-en­tre­pre­neur). Be­fore the soap could be sold pub­licly, Lisa had to send her soap for­mula to a char­tered chemist to be safety as­sessed and the for­mu­las reg­is­tered with two dif­fer­ent of­fi­cial or­gan­i­sa­tions. She set up a website (in both French and English) and booked slots at lo­cal mar­kets.

“I started off with the three or four goats we al­ready had, mak­ing around 24 soaps per week. To­day we’ve got 11 goats and I make around 200 to 300 a week. I make more in the win­ter as I like to be able to give my­self some time off in the sum­mer to avoid the heat in the lab!”

Neil now helps out with the busi­ness too and the cou­ple go to at least two mar­kets a week, as well as sea­sonal events. “It’s def­i­nitely the mar­ket­ing side that I find the hard­est,” Lisa says. “It’s dif­fi­cult to find out ex­actly what events are hap­pen­ing and when. But the soaps are becoming more and more pop­u­lar and we do pretty well by word of mouth.”

The soaps are per­fumed with nat­u­ral es­sen­tial oils from a sup­plier in the north of France – the most pop­u­lar scent is gera­nium rose. They are wrapped in pretty pieces of cot­ton and cus­tomers who re­turn the cot­ton re­ceive a dis­count on their next pur­chase.

“I love work­ing from home and be­ing able to stop and have a cof­fee when I want to,” says Lisa be­fore adding, “I love watch­ing the goats graz­ing in our fields, though they of­ten de­cide that the neigh­bour’s grass is better than ours and it’s a mad dash to round them up! But that’s life with goats and I wouldn’t change it.”

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