Growing up, city girl Livia Simpson always knew she would have a family. But she never imagined that in addition to living on a small farm just outside of Kingston with her loving husband, adorable son, and playful Jack Russell, she would also be a “mother” to over a dozen goats. However, these goats are not just pets: Livia is the owner of Liv Simple Farms, a small-scale, family-operated, goat and lavender farm, specializing in farm-fresh goat’s milk soap.
Truly a “farm-fresh business,” Livia makes all of her products from natural ingredients (including the milk from her goats) in her home and sells them at farmer’s markets, shows, a number of Kingston and area establishments and online. I first met Livia at the Queen’s Farmer’s Market, where I bought my first bar and soon became hooked on the creamy soap. I then sought her out at various festivals and fairs in town to replenish my supply and to buy for family and friends. Not only did I fall in love with the products, I loved the idea behind them. The name, Liv Simple Farms, is not just a play on the owner’s name, it is the company’s philosophy: to live simply. From soaps produced at home with simple and natural ingredients to the idea that these products should be affordable and accessible, Livia encourages us to keep things simple and fresh. This past weekend, I stopped by the farm to meet her newest litter of “kids” and to talk to her about running a home business:
1. What inspired you to start Liv Simple Farms?
I was always into making body products for myself and when we moved to the farm we wanted to have animals that we could both keep as pets and be useful. I saw an opportunity to start making the products I enjoyed from scratch using the goat’s milk and lavender produced on our own property. It was really a natural progression. Another one of the main reasons for opening a home business was that I wanted something I could do at home while raising my son.
2. Why goat’s milk? Why is lavender an essential ingredient in many of your products?
Goat’s milk is full of amazing stuff for your skin! Having it be raw and unpasteurized is even better. We use 100% goat’s milk in our soap, replacing the liquid portion of a recipe, and this makes it rich in everything good it has to offer, including vitamins A, B, C D and E, iron, lactic and caprylic acids, and various proteins and nutrients. Because of all of this natural goodness, goat’s milk can have a positive effect on various skin conditions from acne, dryness and redness, to rosacea and eczema.
I suffer from migraines, so I have long been aware of and a champion of the antibacterial and aromatherapy benefits of small amounts of pure lavender. Not only is it good for all skin types, natural lavender has the ability to blend well with all other essential oils, making for unique scents.
3. Take us through the soap making process.
The soap is made using the old-fashioned, cold process method. Our goats are milked daily and the milk is then frozen before it is mixed with the lye and a blend of fats/oils that are each chosen specifically for their unique contribution to forming a “perfect” soap. The essential oils and natural ingredients like coconut and oatmeal are then added to the mixture and the soap is poured into moulds where it sets for 24 hours. After the setting process, the soap is cut and then is cured for six weeks before it can be labelled and sold. I usually have 20-24 different types of soap for sale, so soap-making is a daily occurrence in our household.
4. What have been some of the challenges of running a business from home?
The biggest challenge has been getting myself out there. I don’t have a storefront that people walk by daily to make people familiar with my products. I need to be continually searching for opportunities to take part in shows and farmer’s markets. I need to be ready to travel and to give up my weekends when there are opportunities and to follow up with people who buy my products.
5. M: What advice do you have for someone just starting out?
You have to really want it and be patient. You have to be passionate about what you are selling/doing so much so that it drives you every day. Otherwise, it won’t work out. Success in a home business doesn’t always come easily; it can take months or even years before you start to see results.
6. What are the benefits of farm fresh products?
I think more and more people want to know what is in the products they are putting on their skin, especially with all of the additives that you usually find in them. Because the milk comes from my goats and I know exactly where all of my products are sourced, customers appreciate the fact that I can answer any questions they have about what I am selling. The public has been really receptive to my products and my story and it seems that people really like to support local farmers.
To start your own goat’s milk soap addiction, go to www.livsimplefarms.com for a list of products, events and retail locations.