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“OH! WE COULD GET GOATS! The kids could drink the milk! We could make soap for our family, and yogurt, and ice cream and even cheese!” This is what I (Karen, the mom) said to Kevin (the dad) soon after a neighbor brought over some goat’s milk soap for us to try. That ordinary looking bar of soap was wonderful and amazing. I couldn’t believe a bar of soap could feel that good! My thoughts turned to mischievous, clothing eating goats. My dear husband, with thoughts of cheese and ice cream racing through his head, readily said “Let’s do it!” (He didn’t know what he was in for!)
First one goat came to live with us. Then another. Then… 6 more all at one time! Eight goats is a lot and eight goats produce a significant amount of milk, but we figured everything would work out fine. Not only did we already have 4 children (3 biological and one from China), but we were in the process of adopting a sibling group of 5 from Colombia. We calculated that with 9 children, we would never waste a drop of goat’s milk!
I mentioned our adoption. If you know anything about it, you know that adoption is expensive and a lot of families will use fundraising opportunities to help ease some of the financial burden. We were no different. With my newly found skill of soap making and bars of soap piling up around the house (soap making can be rather addicting!) we thought, “Hey, why not sell soap and raise some money for these adoption expenses?” And so we did.
It wasn’t long until we started getting emails from friends and strangers who had purchased our soaps in support of our upcoming adoption. They LOVED it - and wanted more! WOW! It was such a compliment to me. I mean, I knew I really liked it but to have others saying the same thing made my heart soar!
It was in Colombia, in the middle of the adoption, when we got to thinking about turning my enjoyment of soap making into a business. Now MY thoughts went into overdrive, but instead of cheese and ice cream, I was thinking dollars and cents (just being honest!).
Once everything was official and we were a family of 11, it became painfully obvious that adding 5 children (ages 1, 3, 4, 5 and 7 at the time) to our family (our other kids were 5, 11, 13 and 15) at once was HARD. Our children needed time to learn how to be siblings to one another, and we all needed to learn how to be a family. I was very, very thankful we had the goats at that time in our lives. I didn’t enjoy getting up early to milk them (9 hours of sleep is perfect for me!) but once I was outside it was sheer bliss because of the solitude. Nine kids makes for a not so quiet house to this introvert!
Late at night after the kids went to bed I made soap in the kitchen (along with the prerequisite yogurt, ice cream and cheese!) Occasionally, when I just couldn’t wait until nighttime, I would put a movie on for the Littles (the youngest 6) and make up a batch of French Lavender or Indian Lemongrass or anything else my heart desired.
It took about a year of soap making in the kitchen before I outgrew it. Kevin and the 3 oldest kids voluntarily gave up a beautiful pool table and helped turn the basement into “The Soap Cave”. Kevin made bigger soap molds for me, which freed up a little more of my time, and our family started selling our soap at farmers markets and craft shows. I LOVED talking to customers in person, hearing how much they were enjoying our products, and asking them which soaps were their favorites. Indian Lemongrass and French Lavender were often right at the top of the list! Patchouli Peace took me by surprise!
It’s a challenge balancing family and business. I’ll be honest, we aren’t perfect in either one, but we do our absolute best for both. Kevin and I dream of building a business that our family and our children will be honored to be a part of. A business where we can make a difference in the lives of our customers and in the lives of children, particularly orphans, around the world. We chose the name “Global Soaps” because of our diverse family and where our children were born - Georgia (our two oldest biologically born), Michigan (our youngest biologically born), China and Colombia - but even as I write this it is taking on more meaning. We want to help others in a big way, locally and globally, and we welcome you to be a part of it with us.
~ The Burgess Family Kevin and Karen Carissa, Tyler, Laurel, David, Jamie, Lyric, Bree, Diego and Brayan!