Four years ago, PJ Jonas, a former systems engineer, was a stay-at-home mom; her husband, Jim, was a former science teacher turned garbage collector. Today PJ and Jim run a booming business making goat’s-milk soap in their Indiana home (and barn). With 12 employees (eight of them—their children, ages 4 to 15—are part-time), Goat Milk Stuffhas produced more than 200,000 bars of soap, and now makes lip balms, lotions, and laundry soap, too. PJ talked to us about how her family’s cottage industry took off, and the surprising, skin-smoothing power of goat’s milk.
Why she went into the beauty business: We needed to buy a new engine for our van. I’d been making soap for our family and friends, so I decided to make some extra and sell it to raise money.
When she realized they’d be able to pay for the engine…and then some: We had so many orders that we were regularly eating dinner on the kitchen floor because the table was piled high with soap. Within several months, I told my husband either I’d have to scale back the business or he’d have to quit his job to help full-time. We decided to take the leap.
|Photo: Marko Metzinger/Studio D|
Why she put goat’s milk in soap in the first place: All soap needs to include a liquid—it can be water, juice, even beer. Or it can be milk. We already owned a few goats, and I learned that their milk is nourishing for your skin.
Her biggest surprise: How dramatically our soap can change the quality of people’s skin. I set out to make soap that was gentle and smelled good and looked pretty. Then my husband, who worked outside all winter, started using it and the skin on his fingers stopped splitting and cracking.
How she handles eight children, 25 goats, and one growing business: I don’t even attempt to do it all. Everyone in the family works for Goat Milk Stuff, and everyone has a job around the house. Our 9-year-old does all the laundry, so our clothes are pretty wrinkled. But that’s okay—we work from home.