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06/17/2004 Litchfield County Times
From New Milford, Soaps From Goat's Milk
By: Pat Conway
When you enter Lisa Agee's home in New Milford, a pleasant, fresh smell permeates the rooms. There are varieties of delicious-smelling goat's milk soaps in trays on the table, on silver racks against the walls and in small gift baskets wrapped in soft, see-through fabric in pastel shades.
But the real stars of the enterprise called Goatboy Soaps are in the backyard, playing with their young, running and jumping, eating some hay and having a great time enjoying the platform on an old wooden play set. Lisa and Ryanne, the two female goats that the Agee family owns, supply the milk that goes into every bar of Goatboy soap. The company makes and sells soaps, lotions, lip balms and a face scrub. "Goats are great pets-as loving as dogs, easy to keep, fun, playful and smart," said Mrs. Agee, who co-owns Goatboy Soaps with her husband, Rick. Mrs. Agee, who has lived in New Milford since 1991, happened upon the business by chance. Her youngest son, Bobby, now 10, has a number of allergies, and while researching different products, she found soaps made with goat's milk in upstate New York and bought them for herself and her friends. And then there's the fact that Bobby had always wanted a goat. "He was passionate about goats," his mother explained. When he was 2, the family took him to the Bronx Zoo, where they purchased a goat figurine in the gift shop. When he was 8 years old, Bobby's teacher, Joe Raps, introduced a theme to the class, "Follow Your Passion." That only strengthened Bobby's wish to have a goat. His parents made several stipulations to see if he would tire of his longing. They wanted him to read all about goats, which he did. They took him to a dairy farm in New York, where he worked with the goats and learned to care for them. "He loved the work," his mother said. "He did everything." That's also where the family also delved more deeply into the benefits of goat's milk soap. Besides helping Bobby, who used an unscented bar, the soap worked for Mrs. Agee's dry skin. "Every winter, I'd scratch my legs raw," she recalled. But, after using the soap for a few months, the rawness disappeared. It has also been known to work well on dry, chapped hands and fingers.
Mrs. Agee subsequently visited a farm in Southbury that sells goat milk, and, after considerable research, developed a recipe to make soap using goat's milk. Her dining room quickly became filled with her products, which she gave to friends and family members, who loved the soaps and wanted more. Her husband finally said, "Let's do something with this." Their first brush with selling their products came at the firemen's fair in Warren in 2002. Mrs. Agee was shocked to discover that she made $600 in sales. The Agees knew at that point they had a good product that people wanted, and it was planning for the event that helped them to decide on a name. "We needed a name to call the soaps," Mrs. Agee remembered. They had affectionately nicknamed Bobby "goatboy," and the label seemed to fit the business perfectly. While further investigating the benefits of goat's milk, Mrs. Agee became a disciple of the product. And the family became the owners of two female goats, which fulfilled Bobby's dream. "Having the goats is a great outlet for him," his mother said. Bobby, whose allergies prevent him from having peanuts, poultry and shellfish, among other things, now drinks goat's milk, which, allowed him, for the first time, to eat cereal with milk. With money from their savings, the Agees started their business, and it has been a good fit.
Mrs. Agee, who worked for Merrill Lynch in Stamford and Met Life in Danbury and New Milford, is a friendly, personable woman, someone you meet and feel an instant connection with. Her husband, a consultant in information technology, handles the marketing for the products. In addition, he does the milking and helped with the birth of the baby goats last fall. Goatboy soap is made with pure, moisture-rich ingredients. In every four-ounce bar of soap, there is one full ounce of goat's milk. Commercial soap makers like to remove glycerin from their soaps so they can sell it and make a profit. But Mrs. Agee leaves the glycerin in. She also uses Shea butter instead of lard in her bars. "It's expensive but worth it," she stated. The soaps retail from $4 to $4.75. "It's been a family endeavor," said Mrs. Agee, explaining that the couple's other son, Ryan, who is 12, designed the Goatboy logo that appears on each product. And when they go to the farmers market in New Milford on Saturday to sell their products, the boys usually bring along one of the goats. Goatboy soaps are light, fragrant and soft to the skin. Mrs. Agee makes them in a variety of colors in a myriad of shapes. She has had orders for bridal showers, for wedding favors (with the couple's name and marriage date on them), for birthdays and for gifts to give to volunteers as tokens of appreciation.
Mrs. Agee has made bars with the word "Hope" on them for the Shepaug Valley Relay for Life event July 9. She is also donating 25 percent of the cost for the event that raises funds to fight cancer and honors cancer survivors. Mrs. Agee also believes that the soaps would be helpful to cancer patients going through chemotherapy who might need something mild and non-abrasive. Through word-of-mouth and the Internet, Goatboy Soaps has fulfilled a steady stream of orders. "We did 10 times more orders this Christmas than the past one," Mrs. Agee noted. "It's client driven," she likes to say about the business. She will go out of her way to make soaps in the fragrances her clients want and in the shapes they choose. One client wanted a lighthouse on the soap for a party in Rhode Island, so Mrs. Agee found a lighthouse mold to work with. Ethan and Omelette, co-hosts on I-95 radio, requested soap on a rope with their radio logo displayed. She has also used heart designs, Celtic symbols and different animals, such as a cat and goat.
One of her clients was allergic to coconut oil, so Mrs. Agee made a soap using olive oil instead. Many clients want a certain scent, which Mrs. Agee always manages to duplicate. She has a stock of 30 fragrances, but does special ones for the seasons. For fall, Mrs. Agee makes soaps in apple pie and ginger spice scents, while for Christmas, clients can purchase a candy-cane fragranced soap. In the spring, she makes a variety of florals, and for the summer she will try fruit scents. With an ever-growing customer base, orders come in from as far away as California, Ohio, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania. Surprisingly, Mrs. Agee pointed out that men are her biggest clients. "They use the soaps and love them," she said, citing one man in Philadelphia who orders a supply of shaving soap in the bay rum fragrance each month. Her customers, who range in age from children and teens all the way to senior citizens, order through the Web site, come to her home to purchase bars, or place orders through home parties. This business allows Mrs. Agee, who was born in Norwalk, to be at home when her children come off the school bus. "I like being here for them," she said. "It will be great to be able to continue to do this." Eventually, she said, the family is hoping to make and sell goat cheese. Mrs. Agee is at the New Milford Farmers Market every Saturday morning on the green.
She will also have a booth at the Bridgewater Fair Aug. 20 to 22, at the Goshen Fair Sept. 4 to 6 and at the Bethlehem Fair Sept. 10 to 12. The soaps are available at New Morning store in Woodbury and the Bath Shop in New Milford. For more information, the number to call is 860-350-0676. The Web site is www.goatboy.us.
The News-Times 2003-10-15
Goatboy Soap horns in on market for people with food allergies
The News-Times/Wendy Carlson Lisa Agee makes soap using goat?s milk, which people with allergies can use.
By Kamilla Gary THE NEWS-TIMES The News-Times/Wendy Carlson
Lisa Agee makes soap using goat's milk, which people with allergies can use. Lisa Agee is cleaning up with her goat?s milk soap business. Cleaning up her family, friends and the devoted following she has amassed in the year since she began hand-making bars of Goatboy Soap. "It's kind of taken on a life of its own,? said the perky mother of two sons, Ryan, 12 and Bobby, 10. The fragrant bars have taken over her New Milford home?s dining area. The room, which tickles the senses with such scents as apple spice, lavender, orange and blueberry, resembles a trendy bath shop with the hand-made bars in baskets on shelves awaiting packaging or on tables along the wall until they are ready to be cut into blocks. Some of the bars aren't just blocks, either. Agee?s repertoire of shaped soaps includes Irish claddaghs, American flags, angels, a set of wedding rings for wedding showers and of course Goatboy's trademark goats. Agee said her son Bobby liked goats since he was 2 and began learning about them as he got older, inspiring the company name. An assortment of the products that Lisa Agee sells. Many of the shapes are for special occasions. One of Agee's customers ordered the claddaghs the Irish sign of friendships to give to her family when she goes to visit Ireland. Agee?s journey into soap-making began when her son Bobby was just three days old and suffering from food allergies. He had to be given goat?s milk instead of baby formula and as he got older, Agee searched for other alternative foods for him. Agee went to the Internet and found a woman in upstate New York who also made goat?s milk soap. Agee said her family became hooked on the soap. She also found out that goat?s milk has a higher fat content than cow?s milk and contains caprylic acid, which creates a soap with a mild pH level between 7.5 and 9. All the attributes create a cleansing, moisturizing bar. After visiting the woman and learning to make soap, Agee said she found lard is a key ingredient in soap, which was not a very appealing concept. Instead of using lard, Agee tried a recipe using goat's milk, which comes from a licensed raw milk farm in Southbury, shea butter, coconut, palm and olive oils and for fragrance, she uses fruit and flower oils. Though she has remained true to her recipe, Agee said she can delete certain oils, like coconut oil, if someone is allergic to it. The Goatboy line includes lotion, lip balm, face scrub, and a shaving bar for men. Agee said she is looking into creating liquid soap. "People aren?t afraid to say I like that one or ?oh, I don?t like that one," Agee said. And she doesn't hesitate to offer free samples of the bars. "The best part is to give it.? The soap takes about two weeks to cure once all the ingredients, including lye, are mixed. Agee said some people are apprehensive about lye because by itself it is caustic. She said the lye produces a natural chemical reaction in the saponification, or soap-making process. She then pours the soap into special boxes or molds. Right now, she is working on peppermint soap for her Christmas rush. Jasmine has been one of Agee?s best sellers. She said the soap and loofah combinations, which have the soap already poured into the loofah sponge, are also starting to rise in popularity. Agee has customers in Wisconsin and as far away as Indonesia and Portugal. Most of her business has come from word-of-mouth. It has become so popular, Agee and her husband Rick are thinking about turning the hobby into a full-time business. Without the support of her friends and family, though, Agee said the business wouldn?t be as successful She jokingly said her friends all have big-time titles like "cost control,? and "director of marketing." Her son Ryan, is her "artistic director," and "sales manager." He created the "goatboy," used in the logo. Her friend Ilene Caruso, whom she met at her son's allergist's office, accompanies her to fairs to help sell bars. "I just want to see Lisa succeed, she works so hard at it. I help her as much as I can," Caruso said. "She pays me in soap. I just put my time into it for her." The Agee family had two new additions. Twin female goats, Lisa and Ryanne, who are about 18 months old. Agee said she plans to breed the goats one day and to use their milk. She wouldn't mind hearing the pitter-patter of more little goat feet around the yard, either. Agee thinks the family is on the path it?s on for a reason. The business has brought everyone closer. "It?s so weird how you get led in life,? Agee said. The family loves the two goats that Agee said follow her husband around like puppies. "The whole family's needs are being met." Agee tries to make 100 bars of soap a day. She said she foresees making the soap herself well into the future, as long as her family wants to continue. "I get so much positive feedback and gratification, but success for me is maintaining the happiness of my family," Agee said.
Goatboy soaps and products are available online at www.goatboy.us or by calling (860) 350-0676. Stores carrying the Goatboy line include The Bath Shop, Etc. in New Milford, Featheridge Designs in Washington Depot and Burr Farms in Brookfield.
Goatboy Soaps started in Lisa Agee\'s kitchen four years ago. Her son Bobby had numerous allergies, including one to cow\'s milk. When he was able to tolerate goat milk, he quickly became obsessed with goats.
"When Bobby becomes obsessed with something, there is no stopping him," Agee said.
Goat soap is a naturally-made soap, specifically from goat milk. It helps with skin allergies and makes skin very soft. In comparison to other soaps, which are usually made from animal fat or vegetable oil, goat soap is all natural and reserves the glycerin, which other soap companies take out.
After Bobby asked his parents for goats, they told him he could have some if he read a veterinarian manual and worked on a goat form. Bobby agreed to his parents request and worked on a goat farm in upstate New York, which he loved. After that, Bobby became known as Goatboy.
The goat farm then gave the Agee family two goats; twin sisters. Soon after, Agee used a bar of goat milk soap and loved what it did for her skin. She decided to make a batch of soap in her kitchen and gave it away to friends. Her friends quickly spread the word about how wonderful goat soap is for the skin.
For the next two years, Agee ran her business out of her kitchen, selling it on the weekends at fairs. Rick Agee, Lisa\'s husband, decided to quit his job to devote his time to the family business. Their other son Ryan drew a logo, and the name Goatboy stuck.
"Goatboy is a name you will always remember," Agee said.
The Agee\'s now run their entire business from their basement and own six goats, three males and three females.
The entire soap-making process takes one day. They start in the morning milking the goats, adding natural ingredients including Shea butter, olive oil for moisture, and coconut oil for lather. Goatboy Soaps has over 30 fragrances, made from essential oils, which include: Pumpkin Spice, Gingerbread, Unscented, and their best seller Red Clover,
"Men are my best clients," Agee said. "They love what it does for their skin."
They still sell at fairs on the weekends, but rely heavily on word-of-mouth, and their Web site: www.goatboysoaps.us. Recently Whole Foods began selling it in their stores. They sell at four or five stores in the Northeast region.
"[At fairs] we use the drug dealers approach," Agee said. If they see someone who has skin allergies, such as eczema, they give them a bar of their Unscented goat soap.
"They get hooked," Agee said.
Goatboy Soaps sell their bars for $5 per bar. They also make hand and body lotion and lip balm.
Goatboy Soaps started in Lisa Agee's kitchen four years ago. Her son Bobby had numerous allergies, including one to cow's milk. When he was able to tolerate goat milk, he quickly became obsessed with goats. "When Bobby becomes obsessed with something, there is no stopping him," Agee said.
Got (goat's) milk?
New Milford family finds help for son's food allergies and launches business
By Brian Saxton
The News-Times Online
NEW MILFORD ; They have sensuous names like Red Clover Tea, Serious Citrus and Cucumber Melon. The soaps, lip balms and lotions Lisa and Rick Agee make from goat's milk were the last things on their mind when they were trying to find ways to cope with their young sons food allergies. What they did discover searching the Internet was that goats milk suited his diet. A woman who ran a goat farm in upstate New York told me that goat's milk would be easy for him to digest and she was right, Lisa Agee said this week. For the first time, Bobby Agee, then 8, was able to have milk with his breakfast cereal without feeling sick.
It didn't stop there.
Bobby Agee not only enjoyed the milk, he developed a passion for goats and told his parents he wanted one. The Agees, who moved to New Milford 14 years ago, weren't sure whether their 3-acre homestead was the right place for goats or whether Bobby was sincere. It was only after Lisa Agee made Bobby study a college manual on goats and then quizzed him that she realized he was serious. We even sent him to work at the womans farm in New York state for the weekend,; said Lisa Agee. ;He milked 72 goats and loved it and the woman gave him two kids.
From that beginning, it didn't take long for the Agees to find another use for the milk. After some experiments we came up with the idea of making soap and decided to risk starting our own business, Lisa Agee said. Rick Agee, 48, even quit his computer engineering job in New York City. Today, working out of their basement and with six goats, the Agees cut soaps from special 100-pound molds and sell them at country fairs and on the Internet. The soaps, labeled Goatboy Soap after Bobby Agee, along with lotions and lip balms, are now carried in dozens of health food stores in Connecticut and beyond.
Jody Fagerquist, a buyer for New Morning Natural and Organic Foods in Woodbury, which carries the Goatboy line, described it as a wonderful product. It's also a local product and we like to endorse local farmerssaid Fagerquist. Bobby Agee, now 12 and a seventh-grader at Schaghticoke Middle School, helps to make the soaps. His brother, Ryan, 14, a freshman at New Milford High School, works on the marketing end of the operation and even designed the company logo.
Lisa Agee, 45, a marketing major at Sacred Heart University in Fairfield, wasn't much interested in sales until the family business developed. We've never worked harder in our lives but we have never met nicer people, she said. It'ss a much better way of life than the corporate rat race.The Agees plan to hold an open house Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at their home, 1 Murphy’s Way, New Milford.
Yankee Magazine December 2006 New England's Finest As White as the Snow That's how clean you'll feel after using Goatboy soap. The Agee family of New Milford, Connecticut, creates these bars with milk from their small herd of dairy goats. Goat's milk is known as an excellent moisturizer and as a good cleanser for sensitive skin, due to a low pH. The slight acidity helps kill bacteria and helps balance the soap's alkalinity for gentle cleaning. Goatboy soap lathers up well, and the fragrances are authentic -- the lavender actually smells like lavender from the fields. There are 29 different scents, plus unscented, offered in 4.5-ounce bars ($5). Our favorites are Serious Citrus, Red Clover Tea, and Lavender Oatmeal. 860-350-0676. goatboy.us