I first heard about Bloom Artisan Goat Milk Soap from another creator of heavenly skincare products, Casey Boyce, of Shiva’s Delight. Initially I was surprised that one soapmaker would recommend another soapmaker, however, this was at the beginning of my friendship with Casey and I now know this type of “community over competition” vibe is not only a part of who Casey is, but also modelled by so many of the amazing women entrepreneurs I’ve come to know and love. Casey informed me that owner of Bloom, Barbara Wubbolt, was an absolute sweetheart, and that the soap she creates is luxurious and indulgent…and she was right on both counts! First, the smell, just even having the bars in my car was enough to make me simultaneously relaxed…my lead driving foot, eager to get home and test out my goodies in a steaming bath, domestic duties be damned! Second, the feel! Over the years, while always drawn to natural products, I’ve found many to be lacking in the skin softening department. So many have left my skin feeling tacky or dried out, needless to say I didn’t repurchase and remained on the hunt. Barbara speaks to it below (I find the process of soap making fascinating!), there are reasons that a bar of Bloom soap stands out. It produces a rich CREAMY lather and leaves your skin silky smooth, the lavender bergamot is my favourite scent. This is exactly what Barbara wants to give her customers….and I’m sure she passes the high praise back to her beloved goats!
As if being a mom and a farmer wasn’t enough, what made you decide to make and sell goat milk soap?
A desire to replace the chemical laden products aimed at young families today, with as many healthful, all natural hand made products as possible, is what gave me the incentive to create homemade soap. Goat milk has so many beneficial properties, and it is also a very long, creative and involved process. From choosing the best goats for our herd (but often they choose me!), to waking up in the inky dark of dawn for milking and chores before a craft show on a winter’s morning…to attending the births of newborn kids, and finally creating the soap with all of that milk. I love the simplicity and history of homemade soap. It has been around since ancient times and I have always loved the story of Cleopatra bathing in goats milk. It was also a pretty good excuse to have goats too!!
Are you the type of entrepreneur that does lots of preparation before making a move or do you dive in and focus on the doing?
I definitely prep and research before diving in. I researched raising goats for several years before even meeting my first goats. I made several different kinds of soap and I tried many recipes in order to find the most luxurious beautiful bar of soap I could. I ended up creating a recipe that I absolutely love. I made a lot of mistakes along the way and of course I still do. But I love the creative process and researching my options.
Can you explain a bit about the process of making your soap?
My soap making process goes something like this: I use partially frozen milk that I collected the day prior to soap making and mix that with lye, sodium hydroxide. While the milk and lye combine, I melt and stir a pot of beeswax, shea butter, coconut oil, olive oil and canola oil. After all of the oils are heated up I set the pot aside and pour the lye/milk mix into the oils. I then whip it up with my hand mixer until it reaches trace…which is when the contents of the pot reach a pudding-like consistency, and I am able to drizzle a trail of soap on the surface, that is trace. If I am adding any essential oils I do so around this time and then I pour it all into the moulds my husband has made for me. It then sits for 24 hours in a cool place, after which we have hardened blocks of soap that my husband then cuts into bars. And voila soap is created!
What does a typical day look like for you? What does your farm produce?
There are no truly typical days for me because there is always something new coming up. However an average day during the school year starts at 5 am, my husband Chad and I have coffee before he heads off to his job, which is an hour commute away. I then wake up our 3 school aged children to get them ready for school and on the bus for their long country ride. The dogs follow me around as I go from feeding the horses their hay, to the chicken coop, duck house and finally to milk and feed the goats. I take the dogs on a long hike after which I have more coffee before settling in to make soap. The process normally takes until early afternoon, unless I get unexpected visitors. One time a cowboy showed up looking for his runaway horse that had disappeared into the woods over the weekend. I promised to keep an eye out for the horse, however the next day the same cowboy reappeared with a very guilty looking horse in his horse trailer, to let me know the runaway had been found in a wooded backyard.
After I finish cleaning up the kitchen from soap making I eat a bite of homemade soup and head off to pick up the kids from school. Evenings are filled with dinner, chores, bedtime stories and then…soap cutting for the drying racks and curing, prep and organizing orders to be delivered the next day. Throughout the day I love taking pictures of soap and the animals and I catch a few minutes to post these to social media. We produce eggs from our ducks and chickens. Duck eggs make amazing meringues and baked goods! We produce veggies and herbs for the kitchen and some fodder for the goats from our garden. We can the vegetables and make breads and from our mixed forest we produce
wreaths and swags, wood for the wood stove and cedar fence posts and rocks for the rock gardens! We have a lot of rock!
Tell us about raising goats specifically, we all know they are ridiculously cute, but they have a sassy/challenging side as well right?
Ok the first thing I think when people ask me about the goats is Forget Goat Yoga!! I cannot even imagine doing goat yoga, I would have bruises all over and no hair because they love to chew on hair and will snip it right off. Joking aside goats are boisterous, intelligent, kind, loving, curious, loud, entertaining, loud, sweet, affectionate and loud creatures. We have mostly Nubians which are known for their strong vocal chords and thus my emphasis on them being loud. They are creatures of habit and thrive on routine and so if I am even a minute late getting their breakfast they will let us all know with a lot of loud mahing. They are amazing mothers that speak to their unborn kids shortly before they are due to give birth. They look at their people lovingly. They listen. They are highly trainable and will walk with us along our trails into the woods for hours without straying. I can’t imagine life without goats.
How has running this business positively impacted your family life?
The impact on our family has been amazing. It takes all 5 of us to make this work. The effort we all put in has led us to work well together as a team. The kids help with chores and assist at craft shows, sales and farmers markets. It allows us to spend quality time together versus if I were to work away from home. The children are exposed to so many great people and are able to view me as a good role model. They see that one can live their dreams and that success is not measured in monetary value only. They get to see their parents as business partners and that hard work really is a good thing, I get to do what I am passionate about day in and day out, and being together as a family, working towards the success of this lifestyle, creates a very hygge atmosphere in our lives.
Anything new on the horizon for Bloom?
The horizon is swarming with bees! We are in the process of obtaining bee hives for next Spring. In doing so we will have our own honey for the table and the soap, as well as beeswax, a very important and vital ingredient in my soap! Also, we are dreaming big and considering an investor to assist with higher more efficient means of production. This would enable us to create a studio and new facilities for the goats to keep up with higher milk production.
Do you ever feel like things are getting out of control, where you simply don’t have enough time and resources to get everything done? How do you handle that?
Yes, most definitely. And when this happens and I am consumed with too much I have to stop and look at the overwhelming factors in pieces. I can then go ahead and do what needs to be done bit by bit if I ignore the largeness of what is overwhelming me. Also a walk in the woods or a smile from a goat can pretty much put anything into perspective, and that out of control feeling slips away, because I’ve stopped the panic and taken a step back, therefore I can view it without the emotions in control.
Aside from your home, where is one of your favourite places to be?
I have a few favourite places. I love going into bookstores, canoeing on a few of my favourite rivers, hiking in Algonquin Park, and visiting family at my parents’ home on a beautiful lake in the forest.