Dot is also known as Dottie Girl. Insert I'm a Barbie Girl song, but change the words to I'm a Dottie Girl in a spotted world. I'm fantastic. A black and white classic! Come on, Dottie, let's go party! Oh, Oh, Oh-Ah-OOOHHH! I know, I'm a simpleton.
The Bibbed Wonder, The Bean, and I have a rather unusual lifestyle. Our business is not necessarily your everyday run-of-the-mill business. Our lifestyle choices are uncommon to some, and perhaps not everyone's cup of tea. I can honestly say we love what we do. We love where we get to do it and who we get to share this journey…that includes you. In the past, I have shared some of the most unusual comments we have encountered, some of which turned my cheeks a flaming red, even with my off-color humor. Today, I thought I would share some of the most frequently asked questions and their answers.
Some questions we are asked seem like the answers would be common sense that anyone should be able to answer. However, it is easy to forget that not everyone loves animals, has animals, or is knowledgeable about animals. Not everyone is familiar with the soap-making process, its ingredients, or its benefits. It's also easy to take what we do for granted. There are days we forget the charm, the dream-like quality, and the nostalgia our lifestyle and business create (Like Monday, for example…sigh). With The Bibbed Wonder and I both having a background in education, I feel we are comfortable and willing to educate individuals in all we do. I enjoy sharing our story, the journey, and the process. Although I have been making soap for seven years, I continue to learn something new every day, and the path continues to spark passion and excitement. There is never a dull day here on the farm.
I hope today's blog post answers some of your questions, tweaks your interest, and gives you a clear idea of what we do and why we do it. Never be afraid to ask a question. There is never a dumb question, and know we appreciate your interest in us, what we do, where we do it, and how we do it. The most frequently asked question we field is, how do you and The Bibbed Wonder work together, live together, and spend all your time together?
The honest answer is it takes self-awareness, patience, and a sense of humor. We both must be aware of our responses, tones used, presentation of information, and keeping ourselves in check. There are days when it takes all of our self-control to remain civilized. However, most days, we work in tandem to create our products. When we are both “on,” it feels like a well-practiced dance. We can anticipate the next step and what the other needs, and we get things done efficiently. The most important aspect is we continue to enjoy each other’s company and we work toward the same goal. Exercising patience is also very important. We can both be very impatient people. However, we are impatient about different areas of life and business. I believe we both feel the same frustrations, but we don’t feel these frustrations at the same time. When one of us is feeling defeated, frustrated, or overwhelmed, we are able to talk each other down, put things in perspective, and motivate each other to keep pressing forward. It’s not always easy. However, keeping a sense of humor serves us well. The Bibbed Wonder is definitely the funnier of the two. He can turn absolutely any scenario into a joke. His quick wit, epic delivery, and sheer silliness keep me in stitches…mostly. Trust me, there are days I find no humor in his antics. Being able to laugh at ourselves, our issues and our lives are part of what makes us strong.
What do we argue about most frequently? We are often asked this question, and it's a relevant one. Regarding the business, it’s glitter. Yes, we have some knockdown, drag-out, not going to stop until someone kisses the mat kind of arguments over the use of glitter. One of us loves glitter and understands the magical power glitter holds. The other is an anti-glitter curmudgeon who only thinks in non-magical terms, with boring rationale and practicality. Guess who is who? In my humble opinion, everything is better with glitter, and glitter should be sprinkled liberally with abandon on all soap tops. The Bibbed Wonder believes everything in moderation is the key, especially the use of glitter. For example, yesterday, we made Valentine’s Day soap. I know, I know, Christmas is still weeks away. However, in order for it to cure properly, we must make seasonals well in advance. It’s Valentine’s Day, the holiday when glitter should fly freely and adorn EVERYTHING. One bib overall wearing glitter hater would not allow me to sprinkle glitter on the Valentine’s Day soap tops. Rude. I was informed I am like a kindergartener when I use glitter. I was also told that I am selfish with my liberal use of glitter because he is the one who must clean up the glitter mess I make and wander off when I see a squirrel/fox/goat/goose/or chicken. Again, rude. Not entirely inaccurate, but still rude. Picking and choosing battles is also a skill we have developed. I was not willing to die on the glitter hill, so I gave in relatively easily. However, there were a few minutes of tension, curt words, and a little dose of attitude.
Speaking of glitter, we are frequently asked why we use glitter and how can we say our soap is natural if we use glitter. Fun fact: this question is usually posed by a man…just saying. The answer is there is an entire industry dedicated to creating products for use in handmade soap. Some of these products are natural, while others, well, not so much. This is where research, diligence, and knowledge come into play. We use biodegradable natural glitters from a trusted small company located in Florida. The glitters are cruelty-free (not tested on animals, harvested from any living creature, and no living creature is harmed in its making). The glitters are biodegradable and will not clog up waterways/sewage systems/or build up in the environment. It is the same product used for making natural cosmetics. All of these factors are important to me. One must understand we do not just go to Micheal’s or Hobby Lobby, load up on glitter, and throw it into our products. That’s not how we work. With each new product chosen, I research, question, and don’t stop until I have the answers I need. Also, an interesting fact: all those soaps, scrubs, and face care products that have microbeads for exfoliation build up in the environment, waterways, and sewage system, and they NEVER DISAPPEAR….EVER. Your great, great, great-grandchildren will still be battling these tiny microbeads you use daily or weekly to keep your skin smooth and soft. Guess what? Poppy seeds to the same thing, and they are all natural. Just a wee tidbit of information…wink.
We are also asked why we use titanium dioxide in some of our soaps. This question is usually posed by some snotty, college-age boy with overly styled hair and a super expensive watch…just saying. Titanium dioxide is a natural derivative of certain minerals. Titanium dioxide is often found in foods, cosmetics, and natural self-care products. We use titanium dioxide to help whiten our soaps when my vision requires a white background. Milk-based soaps often turn a light tan or even dark brown due to the natural sugars contained in the milk. Titanium dioxide helps combat the natural browning tendencies. There is a misconception that titanium dioxide is terrible, cancer-causing, and dangerous. However, the "nanoparticles" used in products like sunscreen and aerosol deodorants are dangerous and believed to cause lung cancer. Titanium dioxide in its purest form cannot penetrate the skin and is proven safe both topically and if ingested. The bottom line is don't use aerosol sunscreen or aerosol deodorants. We have known for decades aerosol products are harmful to the environment, and nanoparticles can enter through the skin.
We are also frequently asked why we use milk in our products. The answer to this question is two-fold. The most literal interpretation is I had too much milk from my pet goats and had to figure out a way to use said milk and justify the twice-a-day milking that is necessary when keeping dairy goats. I don’t have a long-drawn-out inspirational story. God did not speak to me in a dream and tell me to make soap. I am fortunate that I don’t have a child with severe allergies or skin issues. I simply got pet goats for enjoyment, had an excess of fresh milk, and found a way to create something useful, natural, good for you, and, I think, beautiful. Making soap was therapeutic for me during a very difficult time. I am blessed in that I can support my family by doing something I love and am passionate about, and I get to do it with creatures and people I adore.
The second, more complicated response is that goat’s milk is gentle, rich in vitamins and minerals that are soothing to the skin, and that ingesting goat’s milk and using it in topical products often offers soothing qualities to the body. I won’t bore you with a complex, in-depth chemistry lesson. It is the chemical make-up of goat’s milk that makes it easier for some individuals to digest and makes it soothing for one’s skin. I’m kind of crazy in believing that goat’s milk can aid in healing the body both inside and out. I often use the anecdote of The Bean and her eczema. Jordan suffers from seasonal eczema breakouts. She usually develops dry, itchy, stubborn patches this time of year and throughout the winter. I add a half-gallon of fresh, raw goat’s milk to her bath water, she soaks for 20-30 minutes, and when she steps out of the tub, her dry, red, inflamed skin is almost clear. I call it a goat’s milk miracle. However, it is proof to me that using natural products aids in healing and maintaining healthy skin.
Ultimately, there is an individual at almost every event that asks us how our goats can be smiling when we chop them up and put them in soap. Believe it or not, most are joking, but a few truly believe that when the sign says goat soap, it is filled with parts of deceased goats…sigh. I’m kind of over this joke. I also can’t believe there are individuals who would think using goat parts in soap would be an acceptable practice. However, considering how most of the world views and treats animals as a commodity, I guess it really isn’t a stretch. It’s a shameful, cruel, and inhumane world these beautiful creatures inhabit. The reality for us and our goats is that they are loved. They are treated with kindness, respect, and adoration, and we provide them with the best life possible.
First and foremost, we love them. They are not just farm animals we use to make money. They are an extension of our family. When they are sick, injured, or under the weather, we make every effort to heal them, keep them safe, and protect them. It is not unusual for us to spend the night with them or make multiple visits to the barn throughout the night to check on them if something is wrong. We do not throw our goats away to auction or to be slaughtered if they can no longer produce. We give them sanctuary and respite from a well-served life and a caring retirement to enjoy the remainder of their days. Red, Lily, and Mama Boo are retiring this year. They will no longer have babies and produce milk. These girls have earned a peaceful, gentle retirement. They will live out their days with their family, and we will make every effort to keep them safe and healthy. A little teaser: expect an invitation to multiple retirement events here at the farm this year to celebrate these lovely, sweet, giving, intelligent creatures' retirement. They deserve to be celebrated.
I could create a list of more than a dozen frequently asked questions. I will no longer bore you today with that extensive list. However, I believe I will create a blog series dedicated to this list of questions. I hope I provided you with some insight and answers to how and why we do what we do. On this chilly December day, stay safe, be smart, never stop being excited to learn something new, and keep washing your hands.