This is the story of how an average housewife turned a hobby into a home based business. It is also a lesson in emergency preparedness.
Hello! My name is Deborah Robinson but everyone calls me, Deb. In everyone's life there are "life defining" events that shape us into who we are. There have been several that have impacted my life. My salvation at age 12, my first marriage..then divorce, my second marriage (this time I got it right), the birth of my children and my move from the city to the middle of nowhere Mississippi. There are two other events that truly stand out in my mind that have influenced the way I think and operate today.
1994...that was the year of the BIG ICE STORM! My husband, Bill and I had moved to the country. Bill was working for Bellsouth as a Service Tech and we had five kids at home, Lisa, Chris, Brooke, Jon and Hannah.
In just a few hours time everything was covered in ice and we were without water and phone service for 3 days and electricity for 23 days. In those days I wasn't into Emergency Preparation, we had no flashlights or at least any with with working batteries, no batteries or oil lamps on hand. I didn't have any canned food stored or food that we could eat without using our stove. When the storm hit, the stores sold out of all the essentials and they couldn't be found for miles. We live 10 miles from the nearest small town, 25 miles from the nearest Walmart. The roads were a solid sheet of ice and trees were down everywhere. Most of the businesses around here were closed because they didn't have any electricity. We did have gas heat and a gas hot water heater so we stayed warm and could take baths, which was a luxury many of our neighbors didn't have. Simple things that I took for granted like cooking and doing the laundry became mind boggling and time consuming tasks. Bill was out for days at a time putting up telephone lines and I was home alone with 5 kids. I broke down into tears of frustration on more than one occasion, but the kids remember the storm as one of the highlights of their childhood.
This experience left a lasting impression on me. I decided then and there that I would be "prepared" should there be a next time around. I can honestly say that if the electricity, water or phones go down today I would be prepared for it. I might not like it but my family could carry on.
Enter....Y2K (I took Y2K very seriously!) In 1998 I started preparing after experiencing first hand what life was like without electricity. I began by making sure I had plenty of oil lamps, oil, flashlights and batteries, then came food, medical supplies and other essentials, I STOCKPILED them! (To help you understand, I had stocked enough sugar to where I didn't buy sugar until 2004 and I still have flour stored in my freezer. I have a 500 gallon propane tank that runs my stove and one gas space heater. I filled it in the fall of 1999 and didn't have to refill it until 2001. Now you have a small idea of how seriously I took this threat.) I was learning new skills, too. I tried gardening but discovered I have a "black thumb" and realized we'd starve if we depended on what I could grow.
One of the new skills that I was interested in was soap making. My first batch of soap was made from Lard, Crisco, Coconut Oil, Lye and Water, not the most exotic soap recipe, none the less I learned a lot. I found that my homemade soap was much better than the commercial soap that I had used for over 25 years even though it was one of the mildest, most moisturizing soaps on the market. The homemade lye soap was less drying to my skin and didn't leave that tight, dry itchy feeling after a shower. I haven't used a commercial soap since that first batch in 1999.
Animal husbandry was another skill that I took on for Y2K. After buying my first pair of Saanen does, Jewel and Sweetie, from my friend, Kristie, who was also into Y2K emergency preparation, I figured that these two goats and their offspring would provide us with milk, cheese, butter, and if necessary meat for our family and others. The funny thing about this was that I was a "city girl" and knew NOTHING about raising livestock. (I have found over the years, that I can't grow beans but if you give me a half dead "critter" somehow I can usually resurrect it from the half dead.) Little did I know that these sweet creatures would win my heart and become more PET than livestock. I've had many special "goat pets", some more dear to me than others, they have brightened my days and enriched my life. My herd has changed, over the years, old friends have passed on and there are new "arrivals" every spring but I still enjoy working with and watching them.
For more information on my goats you may click here.
In April 2001, Jewel alone was producing more milk than my family could use so I started using her milk in my soap. From the first batch there was a difference in the "feel" of the soap on my skin. I was using the same base oils, but with the addition of the goat milk the soap had gone from high quality to a luxurious bar of soap. After giving soap away to family and friends I still had more soap than we could use, so in the fall of 2000 I decided to try to sell the soaps at local craft shows to raise some much needed Christmas money. The response was amazing. There were people coming to my door to buy soap for Christmas presents and as "happies" for teachers and acquaintances. To find out more about my soaps click here.
In January 2001 I decided to turn my hobby into a home based business that I named Pleasant Grove Soaps because I live in a small community called Pleasant Grove. So with the blessing of my husband and family I embarked into the business world, one far different from my world as a “housewife”. Up until this time I was known as Bill's wife and as Paxton, Lisa, Chris, Brooke, Jon and Hannah's Mom. I do everything around here: Production, Secretarial, Financial, Shipping, Purchasing, Head Goat Herder and Milker "THAT'S ME!" On any given day you will find me with my goats, making soap, getting orders ready to send out, working on my computer or just goofing off by doing the cooking, laundry, or other household fun stuff.
My soap business has grown BEYOND MY WILDEST DREAMS. Today, I ship soap all over the US from coast to coast. I have also shipped to Japan, Great Britian and Canada. The majority of my customers are individuals who have ordered my soaps or received them as gifts, and then they tell their family and friends about it. My business has literally spread across the country mostly by “word of mouth”. I started off with only soaps but now offer a fantastic Goat Milk Lotion, a Body and Massage Oil, a Goat Milk Peppermint Footcream and Candles to my product line. No one is more amazed at the growth of this business than I am. The Lord has truly blessed me first and foremost in the family that He has given me and secondly in this business that has affected so many people.
Here are a few of my favorite links for information on Emergency Preparedness.
This website offers emergency preparation for any kind of disaster.